Alsace Location and Climate

  1. Where is Alsace?
    • Between the 47th and 49th parallel north in the northeast corner of France along the German border
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  2. How large is Alsace?
    • North-South: 75 miles (120 km) long (Cleebourg to Thann)
    • East-West: 1.2 - 9 miles (2 - 15 km) average width
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  3. How much rain does Alsace receive each year?
    • 15.5-19.5" (394-495 mm)
    • Note: Alsace is one of the driest areas in France because the Vosges Mountains block rain-laden clouds; the west side of the Vosges get 90" (2,286 mm)! Colmar, which lies directly east of Honeck peak, receives very little rain.
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  4. How much sunshine does Alsace receive each year?
    1,800 hours
  5. Describe the climate of Alsace
    • Spring: mild but coulure is a problem. Plain vineyards are trained high to mitigate frost damage while vineyards on slopes are trained closer to the ground to maximize heat and reflected sunlight.
    • Summer: short and warm, dry, and sunny with sporadic thunderstorms and hail; drought can be a problem.
    • Autumn: long and sunny but cool at night with increased humidity (enables noble rot); thunderstorms and hail are possible
    • Winter: long and cold which puts vines in dormancy (important for Riesling)
  6. What months provide favorable vine growth in Alsace?
    April to September: typically there are 100 days between flowering in June and harvest in September
  7. T or F? Morning fog and spring frost are common in Alsace
    False: The "mountain effect" makes Alsace sunny, hot, and dry. This means that sunshine curtails the formation of fog and cold air masses disperse across the Rhine plain so frost is rare.
  8. How does the Alsace climate affect wine grapes?
    A slow, extended ripening of grapes resulting in elegant wines of vibrant acidity with complex flavors and aromas
  9. T or F? Weather in Alsace is nearly uniform
    False: whatever affects one area does not necessarily impact another
  10. T or F? Global warming has impacted traditional weather patterns significantly
    True: less predictable with more frequent drought, heat, rain, and hail. Examples: 1980 (cold), 2003 (heat), 2006 (rain/rot), 2007 (hail).
Card Set
Alsace Location and Climate
Wine Scholar Guild Alsace Master Level Program