Kirchberg de Ribeauville is a named vineyard of the Alsace Grand Cru appellation in the commune of Ribeauville in Alsace, north-eastern France. It is one of three Grand Cru vineyards which sit above the northern side of Ribeauville, each occupying a distinct section of the hillside. Kirchberg, whose name means 'Church Hill', is the highest and most westerly of the three, and should not be confused with Kirchberg de Barr, 16 miles to the north. Geisberg occupies the section lower down and closer to the town below, while Osterberg occupies the eastern section, as its name ('East Hill') implies.
(© CIVA / Z Vardon)
Covering 28.5 acres (11.5ha), the Kirchberg site rises steeply above the town from 885 to 1150ft (270–350m). Its south-westerly aspect means that it is exposed to the full force of the afternoon sunshine throughout the growing season, resulting in rich, ripe wines. As Kirchberg is one of France's most-northerly vineyards, this sunny exposure is particularly important in cooler years, when grapes in less favorable locations may struggle to ripen.
The bedrock beneath Kirchberg de Ribeauville is composed of stratified marlstone and limestone, formed in the Triassic and Jurassic periods respectively. This is covered by a thin layer of relatively free-draining soil made up of loose sandstone and even traces of gypsum, a saline mineral found in only a few Alsace vineyards. There is also a significant clay component in the soils here, with good water-retention properties that often prove valuable in Alsace's characteristically dry climate.
The climate throughout Alsace is of continental type with particularly low rainfall – a result of the rain shadow cast by the Vosges. The mountains also provide protection from the prevailing westerly winds, making the Alsatian summer one of the driest and warmest in the northern half of France. At the other end of the temperature scale, the winters here are cold; it is not uncommon to see Alsace vineyards lined with snow.
Apart from a few notable exceptions, all Alsace Grand Cru wines are varietals and may be made from Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris or Muscat. Kirchberg de Ribeauville is dominated by Gewurztraminer and Riesling, as is the case for the majority of Alsace's Grand Cru vineyards.