A region that’s been shuffled between countries multiple times, Alsace is the northernmost region in France, sandwiched between Germany and the Vosges Mountains, which isolates it from the rest of the country. Germany’s command over Alsace ended with the Nazi’s defeat in World War II, which makes Alsace the last major winemaking region in France to gain AOC status in 1962. The region has a sunny and dry climate, which is helped by the Vosges Mountains as they create a “rain shadow” effect that keeps the rain to the western side of the mountain range, while the vineyards are drenched in sun. The sunny climate and the region's layer of granite, sandstone, schist, clay, and loess soils results in grapes that thrive and ripen easily.
With about 15,500 hectares, Alsace is split into two subregions, or départments, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin, which is home to over two-thirds of Alsace’s grand cru appellations. The three major appellations are: Alsace AOC, which accounts for 74% of Alsace’s wine production, most of which are white wines; Crémant d’Alsace AOC produces sparkling white and rose in the traditional method, and makes up 22% of the region’s wines; while Alsace Grand Cru AOC only produces about 4% of Alsace’s wine production. These wines are made from Riesling, the most planted grape in Alsace, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer, with a smattering of Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner, Auxerrois, Chasselas, and Pinot Noir.