One of my favorite places in the world is Alsace. There is something magical about the vineyards and hills and the mixture between German and French cultures. And, did I mention the food and wine!
We don't have a car and so visiting the small wine towns and villages can be difficult, but it's possible. I generally take the train to Colmar (a wonderful city in its own right - more in another posting). There is a bus station located right outside the train station where you can catch a bus to several of the wine villages. The photo below is of the stained glass windows in the train station cafe. They are hidden in one of the side dining rooms. The restaurant is not bad.
These buses run very intermittently (often only three or four a day) and it can be hard to get information about them. However, many of the buses are operated by the French Railroad's TER (regional train) company, so they are included in the train arrival/departure information systems.
My favorite train arrival/departure information system is from the Swiss National Railway, the site is very clean and easy to use. Here's the English Version. Compare it to the French version ... oh my god what a disaster, but that's another subject.
To use the Swiss system simply enter your starting point (you can choose Colmar) and your ending point, in my case I choose Riquewihr - which is a wonderfully picturesque village from the middle ages (lots of tourists, but for good reason). Another good option is to take the bus to Ribeauville (it goes through Riquewihr on the way) and hike to Riquewihr or even on to Bennwihr.
When you board a bus at the train station you need to buy your ticket in advance, there are machines in the waiting hall. When you board in the villages you can pay cash to the driver (who can usually make change). The drivers I have encountered - while they did not speak much English - are very friendly and helpful.
Also, be sure you check the schedule for the return bus and find out exactly where it stops ... as I mentioned the buses run very in frequently and you don't want to miss them. (As it happened my bus was about 25 minutes late on the return trip which gave me lots of anxiety, but it eventually arrived.)