Wine-themed river cruises are popular in Europe, particularly along the Rhine and Moselle rivers. You don’t have to travel to Europe, though, to enjoy one of these cruises. They’re also available in the United States on the Columbia River. The wine-themed cruises are roundtrip from Portland, Oregon and are usually offered in April, August, September and October.
There are two companies that offer wine-themed river cruise packages – American Cruise Lines and Un-Cruise. Each cruise line features its own onboard dedicated wine-expert, who accompanies guests during their visits to the vineyards and wineries and who also hosts a few wine-related seminars directly on the ship.
American Cruise Lines – Wine-Themed River Cruises
The “Columbia River Wine Cruise” itinerary is available in April, September and October. It’s an 8-day cruise that takes place on both the Columbia and Snake rivers aboard the 120-passenger Queen of the West.
The trip begins on the Columbia River in Portland. To begin the journey, the dedicated wine expert presents guestss with two wine-themed seminars during days one and two of the cruise. In the first course “Wine 101,” guests are introduced to the grapes and wines that are native to the Pacific Northwest. And for the second course, “Oregon Food & Wine Pairings,” the onboard wine expert demonstrates how to properly pair the regional wines with local cuisine.
The remainder of the wine-themed cruise is spent visiting local wineries in Washington, including Hamilton Cellars, Bookwalter Cellars, Barnard Griffin Winery, Aniche Cellars and Vineyard, and Domaine Pouillon Winery.
Un-Cruise – Wine-Themed River Cruises
Un-Cruise is another company that offers seasonal wine-themed cruises in the Pacific Northwest. While it isn’t dedicated solely to river cruises, Un-Cruise is becoming a dominant supplier on the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The river cruise itinerary is similar to the one offered by American Cruise Lines in terms of destinations visited. However, the company has its own wine experts who accompany guests both onboard and during the land tours. There is also a difference in the wineries that are visited.
The 8-day Ameritage wine-themed river cruise takes place along the Columbia, Willamette, Palouse and Snake rivers. There are four departures available from August through September aboard the 88-passenger S.S. Legacy.
Some of the wineries visited include the AniChe Cellars, Bergevin Lane, Dunham Cellars, Maryhill Winery and Springhouse Cellars. A wine expert or two will be onboard to talk about the regional wines, discuss food and wine pairings and offer wine-tasting. During the land tours, the wine expert will also be available to answer questions guest may have about particular grapes, the vineyards or wine production.