Strasbourg, France has an indescribable charm and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old town is very walkable to see the sites such as the magnificent Cathedral Notre Dame, La Petite France, and quaint timber houses. Every February, around the second or third weekend there is a wine expo that feature France’s Independent Wine Growers ‘Vignerons Independants’. The Association of Independent Wine Growers Expo comprises over 10,000 French wine producers from all over France’s wine regions to present their wines at direct prices. Wine enjoyers travel from many miles just to attend this event to stock their cellars and add their collection. Be sure to bring a trolley or hand cart of appropriate size for easy handling of your purchases.
I stay at the Hilton Hotel because of its proximity to both the expo and the city tram for trips to old town Strasbourg. There are many diverse cafes and restaurants to choose, yet, I usually eat at The Ramen Shop for my fix of authentic ramen noodles. I have lived in Japan and come to appreciate Ramen Houses, so YES I am a bonafide RAMEN HEAD as these shops are certainly hard to find outside Japan.
To take a respite from wine tasting during the expo I like to visit a couple of Strasbourg’s museums. This year I wanted to learn more about the town and regional culture; so glad I checked out The Alsatian Museum and The Historical Museum of Strasbourg. Visiting Strasbourg this time of year coincides with Valentine’s Day and the city is creatively decorated with this theme in mind, so naturally, there is a very romantic vibe in the air.
I have been to this Vignerons Independants wine expo a few times over the years and realize that it is too overwhelming or impossible for me to cover all the producers in just a few days, so every year I select just a couple of wine regions to explore. For me, I like to do my homework to research and plan which wineries and wine regions to delve into further. This year I explored Savoie and Jura wine regions because right now I’m into alpine wines. I also checked out the three new appellations that were added to Cotes du Rhone Villages last year; Sainte-Cecile, Suze-la-Rousse and Vaison la Romain.
This expo allows me the opportunity to meet with the vintners and/or the family representing their wines. Indeed, it is a pleasure to take in personal vertical, horizontal, and portfolio wine tastings with the wine makers. With this accessibility I can chat up the vintner to ask questions such as the location of the vineyards, a particular spot for certain vineyards, cellar potential, family wine lineage, what foods to pair, viniculture practices or unexpected hardships that went into that bottle of wine, etc. It’s definitely an edifying experience for me and will try to go every year while I’m living in Europe.
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The Delong 100 Grape Varietal Challenge encourages all wine enjoyers to expand their wine drinking horizon by seeking out unusual grape varieties. These past few years, I have tasted over 180 grape varieties. After all, there are over thousands of grape varieties world wide. With so many wine grapes, styles of wine, and wineries to explore, wine is an educational adventure. So grab your virtual passport and come along with me on a Grape EdVenture™ around the world.