We left the Rhine River to drive inland to the Alsatian Wine region of France. The country side was beautiful even through the rain drenched windows. Once off the highway we were on narrow streets with the Vosges Mountains as the backdrop. These quaint towns were filled with vineyards, beautiful churches and many old buildings. One bridge we drove through was so narrow the bus only had inches on each side to navigate through, glad I was not driving.
We arrived at the Lorentz- Klipfel Winery for our wine tasting. The Klipfel family has been making wine in this region for the past 6 generations. We sampled several wines including a Reisling, a Pinot Noir, a Gewurztraminer and a Pinot Gris. Some wines were very dry and others were very sweet. Mr. Klipfel taught us how to tell the age of the wine by the color of the rim and how it clings to the glass. We also learned that in the old days they used candles in the wine making room to detect carbon dioxide from the fermentation process. If the candle went out it was time to leave the room since that was an indication of too much carbon dioxide in the air. He also spoke of when he was a young boy; his chore was to clean the wine barrels by going inside the barrel to give it a thorough cleaning. This was his chore because he was the smallest to fit inside.
On next stop was the town of Obernai, a very picturesque town square with cobblestone streets. This is another fortified town with a city wall built around it that still stand today after hundreds of years. There were many old buildings and half timbered houses. In the center of the square was the 6 Buckets Well dating back to the 1500’s. A tradition around Christmas time in this region is the giving of Gingerbread Men Cookies to the children on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day in France. According to a French myth, three children got lost in a forest and were found by a wicked butcher who then took them to his shop and hid them in a barrel. Six years later they were rescued by Saint Nicholas, so in France they now celebrate the occasion by giving gingerbread men and small gifts on December 6th.
Tonight will be our last night in France and we will arrive in Mahnheim, Germany for our trip to Heidelberg.
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