Sheltered from oceanic influence by the Vosges mountains, the Alsace wine region enjoys practically the lowest rainfall in France (only 400-500mm per year) and is blessed with a semi-continental climate, sunny, hot and dry.
Situated on the sub-Vosgian foothills, at an altitude of from 200 and 400 metres, the vineyards take maximum advantage of their exposure to the sun, particularly as the vines are trained along high wires. These specific advantages of the Alsace vineyards favourise the slow, extended ripening of the grapes, giving wines with very elegant, complex aromas.
The geology of Alsace is a real mosaic of soils, made up of granite, limestone, gneiss, schist, sandstone and many more. Such a wide variety of soils, covering about 15,000 hectares, helps to bring out the finest characteristics of each grape variety, while the imprint of a particular terroir gives each Alsace wine its individuality, complexity and own unique hallmark.
The Alsace Wine Route
Over the past 50 years, the Alsace Wine Route has contributed to the success of Alsace wines. It has become famous all over the world for the exceptional natural beauty of its scenery, for how easy it is to follow, and for the way it makes the visitor feel close to the region and its winegrowers.
The Alsace Wine Route winds its way from north to south, for more than 170 kilometres, along the eastern foothills of the Vosges. This delightful itinerary runs across a succession of undulating hills, through pretty villages with narrow streets of flower-decked, half-timbered houses, clustered around their church steeple.
Visitors can easily explore the heart of the vineyards, along numerous vineyard paths leading to the crest of each slope, where signs explain the work of the winegrower and the diversity of the grape varieties.
They are welcomed into winstubs and tasting cellars to instantly discover the traditional appeal of the vine and the wine.
15,500 hectares of AOC vineyards in production, mainly found at an altitude of 200 and 400 metres
The total annual production of white wines from Alsace amounts to an average of 150 million bottles, that is 1.15 million hectolitres
In 2007, a total of 38 million bottles were exported, which equates to around 25% of the total sales of Alsace wines
More than 90% of the total Alsace wines production is white wines, which equates to about 18% of the total French production of white wines (excluding sparkling wines)
About 1.7 million bottles were exported to the UK in 2006, an increase of 5.6% in volume and 4.6% in value compared with 2005 sales
Total industry turnover for Alsace wines in 2007 of €480 million