France: Alsace

North of Colmar

The wines of the Haut-Rhin from Niedermorschwihr to Rohrschwihr
By Sue Style

This Guide was last updated on 14 March 2011
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Wine Travel Guide: France, Alsace, North-of-Colmar

With several good places to stay and eat, the well-preserved village of Kaysersberg makes a good base.
© Mick Rock/Cephas

Wine Travel Guide: France, Alsace, North-of-Colmar
Wine Travel Guide: France, Alsace, North-of-Colmar
The map above does not cover the complete extent of this micro-region. On the left its position is indicated within the main wine region.

To see the locations for recommendations in this Guide, use the on-line maps. These fully clickable Google maps allow you to plot routes and print locations.

The heart of the Haut-Rhin

If you have time to visit only one micro-region in Alsace, this is probably the one to choose. We’re in the heart of the Haut-Rhin here, and the area featured stretches from Colmar at its southern end to Rohrschwihr at the northern end, which is almost on the ‘border’ with the Bas-Rhin (covered in the ‘Around Strasbourg’ guide). Many of the top wine names are here: Faller, Trimbach, Hugel, Deiss.

Colmar has the buzz of a small town, with its museums, shopping, restaurants and hotels, and it makes a perfect base for wine explorations. On the other hand, you may prefer the peace and quiet of one of the small vineyard villages which cluster at the foot of the Vosges - the delicious hilltop Zellenberg, for example, or one of the miraculously preserved, Hansel and Gretel-type villages of Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg or Bergheim with their medieval, multi-coloured, half-timbered houses. There’s plenty to do and see, between exploring Colmar and the villages on the Route des Vins, as well as lining up a few top tastings. If the weather is on your side, pack a picnic and take off up one of the side valleys into the Vosges – from Kaysersberg, for instance. Here you’ll find wonderful walks and – on fine days – views across the Rhine Plain to the Schwarzwald and even to the Alps.


Alsace, in the northeast of France, is flanked by the Vosges Mountains to the west and the Rhine to the east. This region is one of the driest in France; protected by the Vosges, its climate is semi-continental with very cold winters, hot summers and long sunny autumns allowing the grapes to ripen well. The vineyards, stretching for approximately 150km from Thann in the south to Marlenheim in the north, lie on the foothill slopes of the Vosges at altitudes from 180m to 360m, with a multiplicity of soils including limestone, granite, schist, gravel, sandstone and clay-limestone. Over the centuries a body of evidence has grown up showing which grape varieties are best matched to which soils.

This micro-region is in the heart of Alsace close to and the north of Colmar. Amongst the Grands Crus are Schoenenbourg in Riquewihr on a gypsum, marl and sand soil known particularly for Riesling; Sporen also in Riquewihr, on whose stony, marl soils fine Riesling and Pinot Gris are produced; Rosacker in Hunawihr with its magnesium-rich clay and marl soils, excellent for fine Rieslings; and the recently-promoted Kaefferkopf in Ammerschwihr known for its Gewurztraminer and Riesling, traditionally blended together.

Basic information

How to get there

Alsace is in the northeast of France, and Colmar is the capital of the Alsace wine region. From Paris by road the easiest route is by the A4 motorway via Strasbourg (about 4 ½ hours) and then by the A35 to Colmar. Alternatively, the N83 main road runs from Strasbourg south to Colmar and then through the vineyard areas. Ribeauvillé is 15km north of Colmar. The new TGV-Est service offers frequent trains from Paris to Strasbourg taking about two and a quarter hours and then continues (albeit not at TGV speeds) to Colmar and Basel. The closest international airport is Basel-Mulhouse (part Switzerland/part France), which is about 45 minutes’ drive from Colmar. There is also an airport at Strasbourg for European flights.

Useful information

Colmar Tourist Office,
4 Rue Unterlinden, 68000 Colmar

Tel: 03 89 20 68 92 Fax: 03 89 41 34 13

Haute Alsace Tourism Office,
1 Rue Schlumberger, 68006 Colmar

Tel: 03 89 20 10 68 Fax: 03 89 23 33 91

Ribeauvillé Tourist Office,
1 Grand’Rue, 68150 Ribeauvillé

Tel: 08 20 36 09 22 Fax: 03 89 49 08 49

Maison des Vins d’Alsace,
12 Avenue de la Foire aux Vins, 68012 Colmar

Tel: 03 89 20 16 20 Fax: 03 89 20 16 30

Alsace Wine Routes


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