As you may have read in my last post, I recently spent a long weekend in the Alsace – the lovely French region on the German border with loads of influence from both cultures! I based in Colmar and toured around a bit, including taking a wine tour through Gueberschwihr, Eguisheim, Turckheim, and Riquewhir with Ophorus Wine Tours. This post is all about my tour, some parts of which are doable on your own, while others are probably easier with a local guide. As always, details on the tour and the individual vineyards are below!
Our tour was a full day wine tour and started with a pick up at 9:00 in the parking lot of Colmar’s only movie theatre. It was just us, one other American couple and our tour guide, Myriam (who was FABULOUS!). Before departure, Myriam gave us a quick overview of the day and some maps and then we were off to…the charming and tiny village of Gueberschwihr!
The first tasting of the day was held at Goldert Grand Cru in Gueberschwihr, France. Gueberschwihr is a tiny, beautiful village located 12 kilometers south of Colmar, and prominently on the Route des Vins (the route linking the wine towns in Alsace). Driving into Gueberschwihr, we viewed the iconic white Hollywood-style signs identifying the Alsacian wine houses, and upon arrival at Goldert, we were immediately introduced to the proprietor. He gave us some history on the wine house and we then proceeded to a very generous tasting with his wife in the cellar of their home! Amazing! From my count, we tried at least six white wines. While I am not a huge white wine fan, the wines were very reasonably priced and we brought a few home with us! Side note – the Alsace is not known for its reds.
The proprietor also picked a selection of grapes fresh off the vines for us to try! What service!
Goldert was by far my favorite tasting of the day! I enjoyed the homey ambiance and the time the proprietor took with us. It was also a heavy tasting – don’t skip breakfast!
After finishing our tasting at Goldert, we drove from Gueberschwihr to Eguisheim (8 kilometers/15 minutes). Eguisheim is yet another ADORABLE Alsacian town, and it recently was voted France’s favorite small town! And I can absolutely see why. In returning to Alsace, I will definitely stay in Eguisheim. I mean, look at these buildings and flowers!
We took part in a wine tasting at Masion Emile Beyer in Eguisheim consisting of about three wines, including a Sylvaner, a pinot gris and a Crémant. The tasting room is just off the main square of Eguisheim and is very modern and welcoming. Unlike Goldert, this one is probably doable on your own.
After our tasting at Emile Beyer, Myriam gave us 1.5 hours to grab lunch and explore Eguisheim.
There was a really cute chestnut festival in town, but it was raining, so we opted to lunch inside at a traditional tarte flambée restaurant, Kas’Fratz. The tarte flambées were delicious (and almost the only thing on the menu…) but the service took the full 1.5 hours. I guess it was a busy Sunday…
After lunch and before our third tasting, we stopped to visit the World War II monument dedicated to the U.S. Army on the hill overlooking Sigolsheim and Kientzheim. The U.S. flag was flying and the views were gorgeous. Definitely stop here if you are traveling with a veteran or relatives of veterans, especially those from World War II.
Our third stop of the day was in the charming small town of Turckheim (9km/15 minutes from Eguisheim). Differentiating it from other Alsatian towns, Turckheim has a Medieval wall and three doors (portes) opening to the Munster Valley (yes, the cheese!), the Routes des vins and the roads to Colmar. Turckheim also has some interesting folklore associated with it, including dragons and a Night Watchman. And most importantly, Turckheim has a train station, unlike the other towns that we visited, making Turckheim very easy to visit on your own!
After snapping some pictures, we had a wine tasting at Alsace Grand Cru Brand François Baur. This winery has been around since the 1700s and even has a legend surrounding certain of its red wines referred to as Sang du Dragon (blood of the dragon).
We tasted several white wines at François Baur, including and a 2009 Grand Cru Brand Reisling, a 2011, Gewurztraminer, a 2011 Grand Cru Brand Pinot Gris, and a 2015 pinot noir (finally, a red!).
One thing I really liked about François Baur is that on the back of each bottle is a guide to identify how sweet the wine is (sec is dry, liquoreux is sweet), at what temperature the wine should be served, how long the wine can be aged and what it pairs well with!
After out tasting, we visited the cellar, which used some really old school barrels for aging!
After our tasting, it was back on the bus to our final stop…Riquewhir!
Our final stop, Riquewhir, was an 13km/20 minute drive from Turchkeim. Myriam gave us 20 minute to explore Riquewhir’s main street, which is super cute and, like Colmar, is very reminiscent of the town from Beauty and the Beast! I used my time to quickly peruse Riquewhir’s famous Christmas shop and visit one of its bakeries for a Klughopf, Riquewhir’s famous cake (a few shops were giving away free samples of small Klughopfs).
If I were to visit on my own, I would plan to visit spend 2 hours here, longer with lunch. Riquewhir has lots and lots of adorable shops to occupy your time and so many opportunities for photographs. The town is also small, so its easy to split up and meet back later. I would note that the Christmas shop is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside and you have to follow a set path throughout the entire store. You could get stuck in here much longer than expected if its busy!
After quickly exploring Riquewhir, we visited a vintner specializing in Crémant d’Alsace, Alsace’s champagne-esque wine – Dopff au Moulin! Dopff has been making wine since the 1500s and Crémant d’Alsace since 1900. Dopff is certainly Alsace’s most famous Crémant d’Alsace producer and well worth a visit. Our visit to Dopff took place in its tasting room right on the main street of Riquewhir. We tried a riesling variety, a rosé Crémant d’Alsace and a standard Crémant d’Alsace! Each were excellent and reasonably priced.
After our final tasting, Myriam dropped us off at our starting point, the movie theatre in Colmar! I found this to be a great tour that was well worth the time and money. The tastings were plentiful, Myriam was knowledgable and accommodating and I saw parts of Alsace that I never would have seen on my own! I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone with limited time in Alsace.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Ophorus Wine Tours: Reservations can and should be pre-made online, as tours are limited to 8 people. The cost from Colmar is €125/person. Pick up in Colmar is in front of the CGR cinema (easy to find). Our guide, Myriam, was excellent, knowledgable and accommodating. I would seek her out as a guide if taking this tour.
Gueberschwhir: Limited information on the tiny town of Gueberschwhir.
Goldert Grand Cru: There is not a lot of information online about visiting Goldert in Gueberschwhir. Visiting and tastings seem to be by appointment only. Recommend visiting the website (linked) for the most recent information and contact information!
Eguisheim: Very useful town website in English!
Domaine Emeile Beyer: 7 Place du Château, F – 68420 Eguisheim. Tél. : (33) 03 89 41 40 45. Fax : (33) 03 89 41 64 21. E: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Monday – Saturday 8:00 – 12:00 and 13:30 – 18:00 (longer in July and August).
Kas’Fratz : rue du Chateau, 68420 Eguisheim, France. Closed Monday. No website. Reservations not required.
Turckheim: Truckheim’s Tourism Website. Loads of information, in English!
Vins François Baur: 3, Grand’rue 68230 Turckheim – Tél. 03 89 27 06 62. Open year round Monday – Saturday 9 – 12:00 and 14:00 – 18:00. Sunday 9:30 – 12:00 and 14:30 – 18:30.
Riquewhir: Riquewhir’s town website. Useful information in French, German and English.
Dopff au Moulin: 2 av Jacques Preiss, 68340 RIQUEWIHR – France. T.+33 (0)3.89.49.09.51. E. email@example.com. Open daily 10:00 – 18:00 (last entry at 17:30), except 25/12. Of all the wineries we visited, this probably the easiest to visit on your own. Dopff is English-speaking friendly and has useful information, including pricing, on its website.
ON A BUDGET
Unlike other parts of France, such as Bordeaux, you do not need to pre-reserve a wine tasting. You can just walk in and pay for a tasting. Further, while not in the main towns of Strasbourg or Colmar, all of the châteaux that we visited were located in a town. So you can visit on your own. Keep in mind in evaluating the cost of the tour that the tour takes into account the cost of all wine tastings and transportation. Lunch is on your own!