The Alsace region lies between the Vosges mountains and the French border with Germany, marked by the Rhine river. The majority of vineyards are located on the lower hillsides of the Vosges, on slopes with east and southeasterly aspects. The Vosges play a vital role in defining the region's terroir, providing protection from the prevailing westerly winds and casting a rain shadow over the area and so contributing to the low rainfall. Furthermore the glacial activity which created the mountains has also significantly impacted the region's topography and soils, which vary from sandstone, granite and volcanic rock types in the foothills, to clay-rich limestone and marlstone on the alluvial plains below. Alsace has a strong tradition of viticulture and fine wine production and has long been associated with flavourful, dry white wines such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris, which are a reminder of its German history. Ranging from light bodied to full and round, Alsatian wines have a large range of diversity for a relatively small part of France.