Alsace is separated from the rest of France by the Vosges Mountains. It is on the foothills of this mountain range that most of the Alsatian vineyards are planted. The soils are geologically complex, contributing to the broad range of styles produced. The Vosges shelter the vineyards from rain carried on the prevailing winds, making Alsace one of the driest regions in France.
As Alsace was for a long time part of Germany, it is not surprising that the grape varieties commonly used here, and the instantly recognisable shape of the bottles, come from the Germanic tradition. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and Muscat are the most commonly planted varieties, as well as increasingly Pinot Noir.