Are you thinking about trying a river cruise? If you’re a wine lover, consider a wine-themed cruise. But what does that mean? On a river cruise through a wine region, you can expect to drink the region’s wine. However, on a wine-themed river cruise, guests enjoy the wine the ship serves AND the wine brought onboard by the hosting winery. It combines wine tasting, education and, of course, gourmet food.
On a recent Amawaterways river cruise, we tasted wine from the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley – Hermitage, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and Cotes-du-Rhone. But the Sonoma County winemakers who joined the cruise brought cases of their wine from twelve Petaluma Gap wineries (a new AVA within Sonoma County). And they hosted four afternoon wine tastings and four winemakers’ dinners.
When we weren’t hiking the terraced vineyards of Tain l’Hermitage or sipping red blends in a Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery, we were tasting the luscious pinot noirs, creamy chardonnays, and robust syrahs of Petaluma Gap. Many Petaluma Gap winemakers specialize in making Rhone style blends. It was fun to compare and contrast the Rhone and the Sonoma wines.
How to Find a Wine Cruise
Chances are one of your favorite wineries is already planning a wine-themed river cruise. If not, AmaWaterways now offers nearly 50 wine cruises throughout Europe. Expedia Cruise Ship Centers also advertises a wide variety of wine cruises.
How to Prepare for Your Wine Cruise
Pick a place you’ve always wanted to visit and choose a wine-themed cruise in that location. You’ll be surprised at the choices. A wide variety of rivers all over Europe, the Mississippi River in Louisiana, the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, and the Mekong River in Vietnam, all have river cruises. You can even take a luxury Africa wildlife and safari river cruise for wine lovers.
Bring friends. It’s more fun if you have wine-loving friends to share the adventure. But if you can’t convince anyone, don’t worry, because you’ll meet plenty of other fun-loving people like you onboard.
Try the region’s wines in advance. For example, my husband, Gary, and I hosted a French-themed dinner for our travel partners ahead of time, serving, of course, Rhone wines.
And most importantly, have fun!
Next up for me – Portugal’s Douro River!