A local hotelier proves it’s still possible to find under-the-radar, locally respected wineries that don’t cater to mass tourist buses along the famed Alsace wine route. These are five of the best Alsatian wineries.
Half-timbered houses, flower-lined alleys, and rolling vineyards make up the infamous Alsace Wine Route. Located in eastern France, enchanting towns like Kayersberg, Colmar, and Strasbourg are popular with tourists for its picturesque villages that boast great wine producers and cuisine heavily influenced by neighboring Germany.
Hotelier Jean-Daniel Seitz, owner of luxury boutique hotel 5 Terres Hotel & Spa in Barr, is known for restoring historic buildings with a mind for design, raw materials, and of course, wine. Born in Alsace, he began collecting wine in his teens—and now, with over 10,000 bottles and 500 references, his natural passion for unearthing Alsatian wines serves his guests well.
“We have a lot of high-class wines in Alsace, known for their pureness and richness thanks to the terroir. We are not old-fashioned, and it is exciting to look for new winemakers—tasting, talking, and enjoying,” says the self-professed oenophile.
Below, find Jean-Daniel’s favorite wineries currently waiting to be discovered on the Alsace Wine Route. A pro tip: Call ahead to all the wineries if you visit—these are not the average big-bus-load cellars.
A third-generation wine producer now led by Lucas Rieffel, a pioneer in the natural wine movement in Alsace. Considered one of the region’s rising stars, the Domaine became fully certified for organic methods in 2012. The process involves waiting 5-7 years until grapes can be harvested and used for winemaking, resulting in low yields but high quality products. Jean-Daniel loves this winery because even their regular wines are perfectly balanced and can be enjoyed without digging too deep into your wallet.
“Very beautiful vineyards in a very beautiful grand cru on Wiebelserg and Barr Kirchberg,” says Seitz. “The specialty of the Domaine Rieffel is the Grand Cru Cremant and Pinot Noir, thanks to the terroir and the natural, slow fermentation and production. However, the Grandiose Riesling is a favorite and highly recommended.”
11 Rue Principale, 67140 Mittelbergheim, France
Considered one of the forerunners of biodynamic wine, 13th generation Domaine Kreydenweiss in Andlau has a reputation for producing some of the highest quality vintages in France. However, it is Antoine Kreydenweiss who is now taking the brand to new heights, remembering his father’s philosophy: “Take pleasure in what you do.” Halfway between Strasbourg and Colmar, this 13.5 hectare winery is a special visit for both locals and tourists.
“Domaine Antoine Kreydenweiss houses a very large Riesling production with more than 120,000 bottles produced each year by this family-run vineyard,” says Seitz. “The Rieslings Kastelberg and Wiebelsberg are ones to look out for. I also like the Clos Rebberg Riesling.”
12 Rue Deharbe, 67140 Andlau, France
Albert Seltz is located in the heart of Mittelbergheim in the Lower Rhine. A 14th generation owner and winemaker, only organic wines are produced on this 12 hectare property, yielding only 80,000 bottles per year employing minimal intervention, indigenous-only yeasts, and sur lie aging.
“The king of Sylvaner Zoztenberg, the only Sylvaner Grand Cru in Alsace. Also available are cuvées Sono Contento and La Colline aux Poirier,” says Seitz. “The Gewürztraminer is very beautiful and the cellar is a nice place to visit for a tasting.”
21 Rue Principale, 67140 Mittelbergheim, France
Though André Ostertag’s winery is one of the most well-known wineries in Alsace, André himself—an author, passionate winemaker, and regular star on TV promoting Alsace wines—has pushed the boundaries of “regular” and conventional winemaking (for example, aging Pinot Gris in Oak), cementing his reputation as one of the best makers in the world. Located between Strasbourg and Colmar, Domaine André Ostertag is a short drive from 5 Terres Hotel & Spa and offers a wine course for those who want to learn in a more intimate setting. Biodynamic since 1997 and with a focus on low yields to ensure that perfect drop and ripeness, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir, as well as the Sylvaner, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer, are all well worth the drive.
87 Rue du Finkwiller, 67680 Epfig, France
Domaine Boeckel is now lead by fifth-generation winemakers Jean-Daniel and Thomas Boeckel. Extending over 23 hectares from Mittelbergheim to neighboring villages Andlau, Barr, and Eichhoffen, the aging process sets the Boeckel wines apart from other wine producers. Aged for at least 12 months or longer in large oak casks of 75 years, elegant yet characteristic Boeckel wines are controlled to perfection.
“A very beautiful historical domain and cave to visit,” says Seitz. “The wines have been aged to perfection and they produce excellent balanced wines.”
2 Rue de la Montagne, 67140 Mittelbergheim, France