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Sue Courtney

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Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:27 pm

Hi,

I am looking for wine travels tips for Alsace, and the German wine regions between Alsace and Frankfurt. I think I will have a week to 10 days to explore and will have a car.

Also planning on visiting Weststeriemark and Sudsteiermark in Austria. This looks very picturesque, there is a 'castle route' and I will be interested to try their sauv blanc. I do not have time to go elsewhere in Austria (ie around Vienna) so please do not suggest that. It will cut time out of my Alsace visit, which has been the top of my 'must do wine regions' for many years now.

Also closer to home for some of the forumites - the must visit wineries at Niagara-on-the-Lake. I am familiar with Inniskillin wines as they are (or were) available here and I met Donald Ziraldo when he was still with the company. Ice WIne is unique but I am a Cab Franc fan and I hear there is some mighty fine Cab Franc grown in this region. I think I will only have a day to tour this area.

Also best place to stay in for 2-3 nights, with a day doing falls touristy things and a day wine touring.

We have found out we cannot travel bus or trains with our luggage ('no checked baggage' policies exist) so now have resort to hiring a car to get to Detroit.

Does anyone hire out sports cars? That would be fun!

Looking forward to lots of tips from the people who have visited these areas.

Sue
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by JC (NC) » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:31 pm

It has been quite a few years since I left Germany. The Mosel region is gorgeous and lies in the path between Alsace and Frankfurt. Cities such as Trier or towns such as Bernkastel-Kues or Cochem have more to see and experience, but I prefer the smaller villages such as Enkirch, Traben-Trarbach, and Zell. When taking part in a Volksmarch at Enkirch (timed to coincide with their local Weinfest) I stayed at the Central Hotel in Traben. Simple but comfortable accommodations on a hillside looking over the river. http://www.central-hotel-traben.de/GB/index2.htm I stayed there three or more years in a row and enjoyed it. I would also recommend a day of sight-seeing at Burg Eltz near Moselkern. http://www.destination360.com/europe/ge ... ltz-castle

It would also be possible to arrange a cruise on the Rhine River with a stop in Rudesheim if that is your preference.

Michelstadt in the Odenwald is another of my favorite German towns. It's south (and a bit east) of Frankfurt--one source says 34 miles from Frankfurt and another source says 44 miles (about 60-70 kilometers). http://www.tompgalvin.com/places/de/hes ... lstadt.htm

I had the great fortune to live in Heidelberg on the Neckar River for three years and if you have never been there, you may want to take time to explore the old part of the town and the Heidelberg Schloss. Just writing down the names of these towns makes me nostalgic for Germany. I plan a trip to Normandy, France this year but may revisit Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2015.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Howie Hart » Mon Feb 25, 2013 11:07 pm

Niagara-On-The-Lake (NOTL) does indeed produce some fine Cab Franc, along with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. 2010 was a stellar vintage in the area and the better reds are just getting released. Here is a link to wineries in the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario with links to each of the wineries: http://www.vqaontario.com/Wineries/NiagaraPeninsula.
I've been to several and would recommend Chateau des Charmes, Flat Rock Cellars, Organized Crime, Vineland, Cave Spring, Lailey, Konzelmann, Stratus. I'm more familiar with the wineries on the US side of the Niagara River, so if you decide to cross the border, let me know. I could meet you at wineries on either side of the border.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:43 am

JC great tips. Thanks. It is always good to get a recommendation for a hotel. SImple but comfortable and clean is all we need. Traben sounds like a nice place to base ourselves for 2-3 days.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:51 am

Howie,
I never knew they did Pinot Noir there too, so that will be interesting for me. Organized Crime, what a hoot of a name!
Would you suggest a day visiting the Canadian wineries and a day visiting the US wineries?
Do you also have a link for the wineries on the US side of the border?
Thanks,
Sue
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Howie Hart » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:03 am

Visiting wineries on both sides of the border would be great if you have the time. Here is a link to the wineries on the US side: http://www.niagarawinetrail.org/pages/nwt_wineries.html. My favorite wineries are Freedom Run, Leonard Oakes, Arrowhead Springs, Eveningside, Gust of Sun and Long Cliff. One thing to keep in mind, is that most the Canadian wineries are more established and that none of the wineries on the US side are over 15 years old. This is due mostly to differences in the attitudes of the politicians in Ontario, where the grape and wine industry has been subsidized for many years vs NY State, which has done a lot less.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by John S » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:25 am

Alsace is a wonderful region to visit, one of my favourites. There are lots of options for places to stay, from many gites in a rural setting (worth looking into, especially if you want your own kitchen) to hotels of various levels in all the major tourist towns. If you stay at a hotel, I'd stay in the smaller towns, not Strasbourg or Colmar. Riquewihr is the most touristy town, but it is a beautiful place, especially at night once the tourists leave town, and the ancient buildings in town are lit up. There are several reasonable places to stay there, and 2-3 restaurants, which makes it easy to walk back from dinner! And Hugel is a great producer to visit, right in the heart of town. But many villages are nice and have moderate hotels. Eat lots of tarte flammbes while you are there! And try choucroute - Caveau Morakopf Restaurant in Niedermorschwihr is a neat place to try it, and Albert Boxler (a top producer) is 200 metres away for a great visit.

The Mosel is a great region for a first visit to Germany, as there are so many top producers in a small area. Traben is a nice village, less bustling than Bernkastel, though that is a central location and a hub of the area. Weinhaus Porn - no joke! - is a neat wine store in Bernkastel. We stayed at the Kurt Hain winery/hotel (http://www.piesportergoldtroepfchen.de/) in Piesport the last time we visited. Cute basic but comfortable hotel, they make nice wine, and it's fairly central to both the Mosel and Saar regions. Reinhold Haart (a great producer) is just a stroll down the road. If you get sick of visiting wineries (if that's possible!), Trier is a nice, ancient city to visit that's quite close (near the Saar area, too).

There are many other wine regions close by (e.g., Rheingau, Pfaltz, Nahe), but I think I'd stick to two regions (i.e., Alsace and Mosel) if you only have 7-10 days. Three regions max! Flying into Frankfurt is easy and it's only about 90 minutes to the Mosel from there (another 2 hours or so to Alsace, as I recall).

I'd stick to the Canadian side of Niagara is you just have one day. And I'd stay in the Vineland area in terms of less touristy wineries, but having said that, you have to see Niagara Falls while you are there, then take the River Road, quickly climb the Brock's Monument in Queenston, and then then hit several wineries off River Road. The quality of the wines isn't very good, frankly, so don't have high expectations. Rieslings are probably the best bet in this region, IMHO.

You'll have an awesome trip!
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:53 am

Hi John,
That is lots of fabulous info. Whereabouts in BC are you? We will have one night (and about 24 hours all up) in Vancouver.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Tim York » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:05 am

I second (or third) the recommendations for the Mosel valley and Alsace for wine tourism and even tourism without wine. The Mosel represents a bit of a detour off a straight line from Frankfurt to Alsace but is well worthwhile.

I haven't read every word above so forgive me for possible repetitions.

In the Mosel valley I can recommend the Moselschild at Ürzig for its food and location (but see caveats) though most of the fabulous cellar which was still there at my first visit in 2000 has been sold. The caveats are that the last time I was there was about 5 years ago and that it is close to the site of the notorious proposed autobahn viaduct. I'm not sure about the progress of that project but it could be very disruptive.

I strongly recommend a visit to Daniel Vollenweider in Traben-Trarbach. He is a highly talented grower and maker, is very hospitable and IIRC did a spell in a New Zealand vineyard. Other vignerons whom I have enjoyed visiting include von Schubert, Schäfer, Reinhold Haart and Zilliken. I always recommend making an appointment in Europe even at places geared up for casual visitors. One is more likely to get the owner's or winemaker's presence and/or an English speaker, if required.

In Alsace, I try to stay at Le Cheval Blanc in Westhalten, about 15km south of Colmar. It has a homespun atmosphere and good cooking. Nearby at Rouffach is the excellent René Muré - Clos St.Landelin estate. He and his son are always very friendly at their tastings in Belgium and I have marked it down for a future visit. Another excellent estate whose owner is often here is Meyer-Fonné. Then there are the big names but I don't need to tell you about those.

Between the Mosel and Alsace, the other wine-growing regions like the Nahe, Rheingau, Rheinhessen and Rheinpfalz should not be neglected. The first contains some great scenery and perhaps my favourite German grower, Dönnhoff; the second has a superb Rhine-side setting, the third is very agreeable and the last has some very pretty villages and all have some excellent growers. Stuart Pigott wrote an excellent guide with good pictures of all these regions which I still take with me on trips although it dates from the 90s. Alas a quick look at Amazon UK seems to show that it both out of print and not available second hand. Also alas; a quick search failed to locate my copy of the book.

However, with just a week, you will need to be very selective and, if it were me, I'd confine it to the Mosel/Saar/Ruwer valleys and Alsace.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Ted Richards » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:47 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:I never knew they did Pinot Noir there too, so that will be interesting for me.


Here's some rather biased suggestions:

If you're going to try Niagara Pinot Noir, you must try Le Clos Jordanne, particularly, "Le Grand Clos", their top wine. It's very Burgundian in style, and I think it's in the same league as good (but not great) Burgundy. It's only available at Jackson-Triggs winery, since they don't have their own tasting room yet. Flat Rock Cellars is my second favourite Niagara Pinot Noir. And yes, you're right, Cabernat Franc does very well in Niagara, better than other reds except maybe Pinot Noir.

You should try and get to Southbrook [disclaimer: owned by a friend of mine] if only to see their architecture (see their web site http://www.southbrook.com for pictures) and to try their Cassis and Framboise. Other must-see wineries are Coyote's Run, Tawse, Malivoire, Lailey [again, the winemaker is a friend of mine]. I also like Rosewood, Lenko (the tasting room is his mother's kitchen) and Fielding. The first five are noted for their Pinot Noir.

I'd highly recommend staying in Niagara-on-the-Lake, rather than NIagara Falls. It's a nice little town. Two B&Bs that I particularly like are Britaly (http://www.britaly.com/) and Newark Manor (http://www.newarkmanorniagara.com/), but there are more than a hundred B&Bs in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's a major tourist destination what with all the wineries and the Shaw Festival.

You should dine at The Charles Inn, right on the main street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, The Stone Road Grill, 5 or 6 blocks from the Charles Inn, and only 2 blocks the from Newark Manor B&B, and if you have a car, Treadwell's in Port Dalhousie, a half hour drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

My wife and I go to Niagara-on-the-lake several times a year, and there's usually some special event on there (see http://wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/events). My favourite is A Pinot Affair in the fall. Let me know when you're coming and perhaps we can get together. I'd also be glad to point you to more information about the wineries or the B&Bs. I live in Toronto, an hour-and a half drive from Niagara.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Bill Hooper » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:23 pm

Sue, My offer stands to show you around the Mittelhaardt (Pfalz), give you a vineyard tour and pop some bottles at the winery if you'd like. PM me the dates (roughtly.)

Cheers,
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Steve Slatcher » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:35 pm

We've visited Alsace a few times. Last time we stayed in Hotel Schoenenbourg, which might fit the bill for you. It is modern and comfortable, and very conveniently situated a short stroll from the walls of Riquewihr. It has its own car park, which is good for Riquewihr, and backs onto the Schoenenbourg vineyard. If you want character in a hotel go somewhere else, but this one is very practical.

I think others have already mentioned the key information about Riquewihr, but if you do decide to go there I could provide more detail if you wish.

Do you already know which producers you want to visit, or are you looking for advice on that too?
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by John S » Tue Feb 26, 2013 7:34 pm

Sue Courtney wrote:Hi John,
That is lots of fabulous info. Whereabouts in BC are you? We will have one night (and about 24 hours all up) in Vancouver.
Sue

It depends when you are arriving. Basically, I am based in Vancouver for much of our summer, but not at other times. Timing is everything!

I may be going to NZ again this year, around November probably, so maybe I'll be able to reciprocate while I'm in Auckland if you are there then!
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Gary Kahle » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:30 pm

Sue, You can take the recommendations from Ted Richards to the bank! We visited Niagara-on-the-Lake last year and enjoyed it a lot thanks to Ted's advise.
And... I'm drinking Coyote's Run Pinot Pinot Blanc as I type.
Cheers, Gary
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:07 am

Thanks Ted and thanks Gary for endorsing Ted. Not sure I want to taste framboise and cassis, but NOTL sure sounds like a very interesting area vinously.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:19 am

Steve Slatcher wrote:We've visited Alsace a few times. Last time we stayed in Hotel Schoenenbourg, which might fit the bill for you. It is modern and comfortable, and very conveniently situated a short stroll from the walls of Riquewihr. It has its own car park, which is good for Riquewihr, and backs onto the Schoenenbourg vineyard. If you want character in a hotel go somewhere else, but this one is very practical.

I think others have already mentioned the key information about Riquewihr, but if you do decide to go there I could provide more detail if you wish.

Do you already know which producers you want to visit, or are you looking for advice on that too?


Riquwihr sounds ideal and the hotel sounds nice but at current exchnage rate is NZ$200 / night so would be looking for something a little more modest. WIll want a place with perhaps a small kitchen to stay for at 4-5 night. So ...

I don't care which producers I visit. I am not a name chaser. Sometimes visiting the locals who don't have big international reputations can yield some delicious surprises. I love gewurztraminer and I think Alsace will be heaven.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:21 am

Tim York wrote:I second (or third) the recommendations for the Mosel valley and Alsace for wine tourism and even tourism without wine. The Mosel represents a bit of a detour off a straight line from Frankfurt to Alsace but is well worthwhile.
...

However, with just a week, you will need to be very selective and, if it were me, I'd confine it to the Mosel/Saar/Ruwer valleys and Alsace.


Thanks for your advice Tim. Will check out some of the places your suggest. Nice to see another plug for Traben-Trarbach.

Sue
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Steve Slatcher » Thu Feb 28, 2013 4:18 am

Sue Courtney wrote:WIll want a place with perhaps a small kitchen to stay for at 4-5 night. So ...

Sipp Mack has holiday lets. We did not stay there, but they gave us a very good tasting and are nice people. Also speak very good English - Mrs Sipp Mack (as it were - cannot recall her name I am afraid) is American.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:40 am

I have usually stayed at Equisheim, 5 miles from Colmar, very central all round I think.

http://www.hostellerie-des-comtes.fr/page.php?id=0
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by David Creighton » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:42 pm

i've been going to NOTL almost 40 years - wonderful town. the chamber of commerce has a reservation service. they ask you questions and then suggest some places giving some info. they will make the reservations for you as well. they have info on what is actually available for your dates rather than just the full list. staying in town is nice and the town is beautiful (voted prettiest in CA) at least drive around the village to see the variety of homes. if it is warm, have a cool one at the Angel Inn.

at least as interesting as the wineries is the theatre - the Shaw Festival - said to be the finest in NA. google it for the schedule. if you have any interest in theatre at all, this is a must.

two wineries that have not been mentioned: Colaneri and Ravines. the former produces only wines using part or all appassamento - drying some or all of the grapes before winemaking. the lone exception the last time i was there was a very good pinot noir. these wines are much better than you might expect - in fact some like the Syrah are outstanding. highly recommended!

crossing into CA from the US can be difficult. if you have a smart phone you can find a website called 'border wait times'. the one right in the city of Niagara Falls is usually the fastest but isn;t that easy to get to. the bridge at Lewiston is always the busiesst - it can take an hour or more easily. very early or very late is best. if you do use the bridge, exit immiatly after and to go to the Falls, turn right and to NOTL, left or straight - can't remember - (the other way). this is the Niagara Parkway - basically along the river and the most scenic route.

if you do go to the Stone Road Grill - I do - share the house made charcouterie with a glass of dry riesling. reservations at all restaurants a must. be sure to visit the park at the mouth of the river for a view of the fort on the US side. if you want to picnic, my favorite place to get food is the Epicure and then drive through town past the golf course hugging the lake till you come to the small Ryerson Park. lovely view including Toronto across the lake on a clear day. have fun!
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:47 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:I have usually stayed at Equisheim, 5 miles from Colmar, very central all round I think.

http://www.hostellerie-des-comtes.fr/page.php?id=0


Warning about the music next time please :) I had my speakers up loud!
Looks a lovely little hotel Bob. Is € 125 about standard for 2 people, do you think?
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Sue Courtney » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:49 am

David Creighton wrote:i've been going to NOTL almost 40 years - wonderful town. the chamber of commerce has a reservation service. they ask you questions and then suggest some places giving some info. they will make the reservations for you as well. they have info on what is actually available for your dates rather than just the full list. staying in town is nice and the town is beautiful (voted prettiest in CA) ...


Great advice David. I am really looking forward to trying NOTL Pinot Noir and now Syrah! A whole new vinous adventure awaits.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:01 am

Sue Courtney wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:I have usually stayed at Equisheim, 5 miles from Colmar, very central all round I think.

http://www.hostellerie-des-comtes.fr/page.php?id=0


Warning about the music next time please :) I had my speakers up loud!
Looks a lovely little hotel Bob. Is € 125 about standard for 2 people, do you think?


Ooooops sorry. :mrgreen:
Rate is about average for the area.
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Re: Vinous travel tips wanted: Alsace, Germany, Austria, Niagara

by David Creighton » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:48 am

in alsace i like to stay in colmar. lots of good restaurants to walk to. plus there are museums and such to visit. i've stayed at two places near the petite veneuse. colombier is the nicer place but is more expensive and does NOT have parking. Turenne is a block away and has its own parking which is really nice.
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