It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s finest wine regions star a curving river or postcard-worthy oceanside view. Historically, waterways provided trade access for finished wines and, from a viticultural point of view, bodies of water help regulate the climate and produce high-quality grapes. Most of these destinations can be accessed by picturesque countryside drives, but this mode of transportation undoubtedly has its disadvantages.
For your next trip, skip the car rental and opt instead for a vino adventure by sea (or river) with a renowned cruise line. Once you leave the transportation to these experts, you’ll be able to cover more ground and properly steep yourself in the terroir of each region — and indulge in local wine to your heart’s content.
Each of this yacht fleet’s Wine Voyages is designed to further acquaint you with some of the world’s most delicious destinations while enhancing your knowledge of food, wine and the way the two pair together.
Days are filled with tastings and guided winery tours, while nights are for Winemaker Dinners that feature a chef-curated degustation menu paired with cuvees (specialty blends) from visiting winemakers.
Upcoming Mediterranean itineraries include seven-day voyages from Civitavecchia (just north of Rome) to Valleta, where you’ll deepen your understanding of chianti while discovering the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, and Barcelona to Malaga, a trip for sipping cava (Spanish sparkling wine) in idyllic island settings like Ibiza and Mallorca.
This luxe river cruise line has more than 60 wine excursions planned in 2020, all throughout Europe. Each one is hosted by an expert who leads tastings, dinners and classes on board, often offering a comparison between New World wines and the Old World vintages enjoyed on land.
Each stop features a range of outings, from active (bike rides) to a gentle pace (walking tours). You’re also free to explore on your own. Oenophiles will be immersed in the food and wine of each region while they get to meet vintners and collect rare bottles to take home.
Upcoming itineraries include explorations of the Danube (Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary), Rhine (France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland), Duoro (Portugal, Spain), Bordeaux (France) and Rhone (France, Spain). Or traverse multiple waterways with experiences like a castle- and wine-focused trek through Germany and Luxembourg on the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Main rivers.
WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) partnered with Cunard in 2016 to launch the first industry-recognized wine and spirit course to ever be provided on a transatlantic or worldwide cruise line.
Take the Level 1 beginner’s course to taste different varietals and learn about storing, serving and pairing alongside food, while Level 2 dives deeper into grape varieties, wine regions and labeling terminology. Globe-traversing liner Queen Mary 2 gives you an intimate setting that’s perfect for both close-knit classes and relaxing at sea in a sprawling library or Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Several transatlantic cruises offer certification this fall and winter, including a Literature Festival on the Sea (November 10-17) from New York to England.
Enhance your vino knowledge with a curated Wine Voyage aboard this luxury cruise liner. Exciting opportunities include an upcoming 18-day itinerary starting in Singapore and ending in Sydney, and a 12-day trip from Lisbon to London via Bordeaux.
Vineyard excursions are paired with on-board experiences to help deepen your wine understanding. You might experience a sommelier-led tasting on the water before exploring local wineries on a private tour.
Silversea wine ambassador Lawrence d’Almeida has curated a collection of 160 different bottles representing every major wine region and grape in the world — roughly 70 of these sips come complimentary during your cruise. D’Almeida is also on board every wine-themed voyage to share his expertise and answer any questions you may have throughout the journey.
Since partnering with the James Beard Foundation in 2016, Windstar has taken its culinary cruises to the next level, providing some of the best epicurean delights you’re likely to experience on open water.
Each intimate session features a James Beard-recognized host chef and sommelier and delivers the chance for one-one-one interaction as you taste the freshest ingredients from each port paired with the region’s best wines.
Upcoming trips include Quintessential Croatia (featuring plenty of wild truffles), a 10-day exploration of North America’s West Coast (San Diego to Vancouver) with visits to popular wine regions like Sonoma and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and a London-to-Lisbon sail with stops along the coasts of Britain, France, Spain and Portugal, where you’ll savor the regions’ best cider, bordeaux, txakoli (Basque sparkling wine) and port.
Exceptional dining has always been essential to Oceania cruises, but now the luxury liner has partnered with tour company Food & Wine Trails to present high-end vino-themed cruises that take you off the beaten path to discover local culture and cuisine.
Highlights include an upcoming South American journey hosted by Duckhorn Portfolio winemakers. The January 2021 cruise begins in Mendoza, where you’ll do a deep dive into malbec before stopping for a wine-fueled tango in Buenos Aires, tasting hard-to-find local wines in Montevideo and hitting fun-filled stops along the coast of Brazil.
The boutique cruise line also offers experiences in beautiful destinations that aren’t wine regions (Alaska, Tahiti and Scandinavia, for example), but each excursion is hosted by handpicked hosts (winemakers, sommeliers and chefs) to ensure you are still sipping the finest vintages for the entirety of your getaway.