Two Old Broads Abroad
Part 2 .....Riquewihr, France and the Alsace Region
Five women in one little German car with a stick shift! What a hoot! And to add to the fun, Inge’s Aunt Doris had never been out of Bahlingen and she must have been 60 years old! I was quite honored that she wanted to go with us and she truly had a great day.
The Breisach Winery is huge! There are massive wine barrels in a room large enough to hold Arrowhead Stadium, each one beautifully carved with the name of the town it represents and decorated with carved flags, slogans, castles, grapes and any other symbol they thought represented their town. Some were truly works of art! As in Burkheim, it is important that the grapes and wine remain separated and carefully logged as to whom it belongs. It will be bottled with the name of the area included on the label.
It is the law, and they don’t mess around with that particular law!
They didn’t seem to care that I was wandering around taking photos, but it was such a big place I tried to stay with in hearing distance of the other 4 of my traveling companions.
After the winery, we crossed the Rhine and went in search of the grape in France! What a great experience! We had lunch at a real French Bistro! I couldn’t have much of what was on the menu, so I had to settle for dessert. We were in Colmar, an ancient little city full of cathedrals and interesting little shops. There is a small canal running through the city, and they have become known as “Little Venice”. Once again the colors and the cobblestones and the sounds and aromas make for some wonderful memories!
There was no way to prepare me for our next destination….Inge just let me drop into the middle of it and watched me hyperventilate! Once again we were driving through vineyards, surrounded by the golden hillsides with rows of vines undulating with the rise and fall of the terrain. We parked outside the old wall of the village, wandered down to a gate. I was still so taken by the vineyards behind us that I really wasn’t thinking of where we were going, all I knew was it was a village called Riquewihr.
Do you remember Dorothy arriving in Oz, when the black and white film turned to color? Well, you can call me Dorothy! I stepped into the middle of a small medieval French village.
It seems so strange to think of the history that took place there at that gate. Being just a few miles from the Rhine, I know World War II had to have invaded the peace and tranquillity of this tiny village. I refused to search for signs of the war. I decided to think of the 3 Musketeers, of bread baked in outdoor woodburning ovens, of children and small animals playing games along the cobblestone streets. And, of wine!
If you ever have the chance to visit France, please don’t overlook the opportunity to visit the Alsace region. Riquewihr is a very small town situated in the very heart of the Alsatian wine-growing area. The reputation of this tiny hamlet continues to grow due to the excellent wine, but the picturesque nature of the old streets and dwellings make it a must for anyone who wants to see what ancient France was all about.
The Alsatian Vineyards have been in this area for over 2000 years! The grapes include the Riesling, Tokay, Gewurztraminer, Muscat and both red and white Pinots. Their individual qualities make it possible to use these wines, and these alone, as an accompaniment to a fine meal from the aperitif to the dessert. To walk across their meticulously maintained hills and to visit their cellars, gives you the proof that when they moved from the wonderful old wine presses and huge wooden barrels, they did so to improve their methods and make great advances in the art of making wine.
If I never take another trip, if I never experience anything new again, I’ll always have my day in Riquewihr.
I bought some wine to take home to Fritz, and once again we drove through the vineyards on the way home to Bahlingen. Tomorrow I would leave with my friend Inge to seek out the vineyards of Northern Italy, the home of my ancestors.