For details of the earlier history of the region, see german history. Annexed by France in the 17th century, Alsace was reclaimed, with part of Lorraine, by the new German empire in 1871. The vineyards were used to produce cheap blending wines. After the twin crises of oïdium (powdery mildew) and phylloxera, hybrids to give large, trouble-free crops were planted on the flat, easily accessible land on the plains. The finer, steeper, hillside sites, formerly revered, were largely abandoned.
Following the First World War, when Alsace returned to French rule, up to a third of these better sites were replanted with the vinifera varieties. A setback occurred with the Second World War, when export was impossible, and the area was once again overrun by Germany. Replanting of the better sites gathered momentum in the 1960s and 1970s, when Alsace once again started to build up export markets.