Where to ski, hike and cycle in the vineyards of Alsace

With the Rhine on one side, the Vosges range on the other, and around 10,000 miles of marked trails in between, Alsace invites you to get out and explore. Many winemakers here feel a strong sense of connection to nature, evidenced by organic or biodynamic farming, as well as their love of outdoor adventure. Here, a few share their favorite places to hike, bike, and ski.

Marie Zusslin from Domaine Valentin Zusslin hiking in Alsace. / Photo courtesy of Marie Zusslin

Lunch and hike

Marie Zusslin is part of the 13th generation to run Domaine Valentin Zusslin, so we can say that she knows the estate.

“One of my best spots is around the lakes: Green Lake and White Lake, very close to the city of Munster,” she says. “Park at the Auberge du Schantzwasen, grab your hiking bag and hike five hours for a great view – you can sometimes see the top of Mont Blanc.”

Don’t worry if five hours sounds like a long hike.

“After three hours, take a break in a traditional inn and have lunch: soup, tart (meat pie), roïgabrageldi and smoked collar (roasted potatoes and ham) with a nice bottle of pinot noir from Alsace”, explains Zusslin. “Then to digest, you have to walk on the summit and smell this good smell of the specific flora and hear the pretty sound of the cowbells.”


Close to the house

In Trimbach, Pierre Trimbach and his brother run the day-to-day business, which means far-flung exploration can be a challenge. Fortunately, he finds something to have fun where he is.

“I love walking through the vineyards in the fall, when the colors change from bright green to yellow and orange,” he says. “When the weather is nice, we can see the Black Forest in Germany and the Swiss Alps from Clos Ste. Hune, our famous vineyards.

“In winter, I love to ski. I have traveled the world for skiing, but recently have focused on teaching my favorite sport to my granddaughters Jeanne, six, and Emma, ​​three, as I taught to my daughters. Lac Blanc, Bagenelles, there are many beautiful places with magical views.”

Jean Claude Rieflé of Domaine Rieflé cross-country skiing at Lac Blanc Alsace. / Photo courtesy of Jean Claude Rieflé

In the Vosges

Jean-Claude Rieflé, owner and winemaker of Domaine Rieflé, and his son Paul, sales manager, are both members of the Club Alpin Français. They often hike in the Swiss Alps, but the Vosges mountain ridge also offers beautiful places to practice their favorite mountaineering sport: ski touring.

A 30-minute drive from the wine estate drops them off at the foot of the Grand Ballon, the highest peak in the Vosges. They call it “their local Kilimanjaro”. Climbing through magical winter forest landscapes is a unique experience rewarded with beautiful descents. How about winter camping with friends, enjoying a cheese and Alsace wine fondue around the fire?

The Vosges mountains are truly a four-season playground for everyone, the pair say. In summer, hiking and mountain biking are the most popular activities. The long-distance hiking trail, Grande Randonnée n°5 or Big Trail, from Amsterdam to Menton, crosses the ridge.

A walk for all occasions

Nestled in the picturesque village of Kientzheim, Domaine Paul Blanck offers easy access to hiking trails, which Philippe Blanck takes full advantage of.

“Most of the time, I explore the Vosges on foot,” he says. “The Kaysersberg valley offers varied landscapes that alternate between vineyards and mountain landscapes. I often leave on foot from my home in Labaroche or from the Kientzheim wine estate. The landscapes are magnificent and there are few walkers. The paths are very well marked and easy to access. »

Sometimes he takes company along the way. “In Labaroche, I often come across stags, wild boars, roe deer,” says Blanck. “In Kaysersberg, from the top of the Schlossberg Grand Cru, the view of Kaysersberg is spectacular.

But the real fun happens on the weekends.

“On Sundays, I have more time and I can easily walk for five hours, go around the Wormsa valley with the climb to the Hohneck,” he says. “The walk from the Col du Wettstein to the Lac des Truites is rewarded with a meal at the Forlet farm inn, on the edge of the lake. Visiting the Petit Ballon in Wasserbourg is easy to do with children.