Here’s our complete guide to oenological experiences old and new.
1. A wine in every port
Sample a different wine in every port on a week-long voyage from Monte Carlo to Barcelona on Regent Seven Seas Voyager. From Livorno, Italy, guests can sample Tuscan wines. At Civitavecchia, near Rome, they can visit a winery at Cerveteri, while Naples brings the chance to savour wines produced from six grape varieties that thrive throughout the region. In Marseille, it’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and, finally, in Palma de Mallorca, a visit to a bodega. From £3,699 per person for a seven-night cruise departing Nov 5 2018 (02380 682280, rssc.com).
2. Transatlantic tastings
Combining Old World and New World wine tastings, this voyage on Silversea’s Silver Whisper sails from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale via Casablanca and Madeira. Passengers will be able to sample 33 varieties of premium Italian wines and 19 varieties of American, under the instruction of Monty and Sara Preiser, co-founders of the American Fine Wine Competition, and Giuseppe Vaccarini and Gennaro Buono, former best sommelier in the world and the best sommelier in Italy respectively. Buono will also host an introductory sommelier course leading to a recognised qualification. From £4,900 per person for a 13-night voyage leaving on Oct 18 2018 (0207 340 0700; silversea.com). Excludes flights.
3. Truffle hunting in Burgundy
You can dig for truffles in a forest as well as enjoy wine on a voyage on the 12-passenger barge L’Impressionniste. The excursion, with a specially trained dog and a harvester, is included on a cruise that takes guests through the picturesque Ouche Valley and offers visits to historic cities such as Beaune, the unofficial wine capital of Burgundy, and Dijon. There’s no hard work involved: the barge comes with six crew, including your own chef. From £3,450 per person for a six-night voyage departing on Oct 14 and 21 2018 (01753 598555; europeanwaterways.com). Excludes flights.
4. Happy champers in Champagne
Take a trip on the new luxury eight-passenger barge Belmond Pivoine along the Marne to Châlons-en-Champagne with a chance to taste some of the region’s finest sparkling wines while watching the harvest play out across the fields. Outings can include viewing the sorting and pressing of the grapes, a hot-air balloon flight over the vineyards at Reims, or a visit to the family-run champagne house in Ludes, exploring cellars that were used to hide members of the RAF during the Second World War. From €5,640 (£5,064) per person for a six-night voyage departing Oct 7 and 14 2018 (0845 077 2222; belmond.com). Excludes flights.
5. Spanish vintage wine trail
The luxury 112-passenger yacht SeaDream has a wine voyage from Barcelona to Malaga, including a visit to a cellar in the chapel of a 16th-century monastery in Ronda, a tapas trail through Cartagena, and tasting lesser-known vintages in Mallorca. Other ports include Ibiza and Gibraltar. During evenings on board, guests can meet visiting winemakers and enjoy top cavas and sherries matched with degustation dinners. From £3,866 per person for a seven-day cruise, leaving on Oct 20 2018 (0800 783 1373; seadream.com). Excludes flights.
6. Rhine and rosés
Taste the fruits of the Rhine on a cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, taking in Alsatian and Rheingau wines, Rüdesheimer coffee and Kölsch beer. Sail by vineyard-clad hills dotted with castles, with stops including Cologne, Strasbourg and Riquewihr, on the 156-passenger ship AmaStella. Rieslings, gewürztraminers and crémant rosés are among the offerings.
From £1,865 per person for a seven-night cruise departing on Nov 12 2018 (0800 320 2336; amawaterways.co.uk).
7. French vineyard tour
French company CroisiEurope offers a river cruise from Martigues in Provence to Chalon-sur-Saône, visiting renowned vineyards and authentic terroirs. Guests on the 158-passenger Mistral travel through the Cassis vineyards, then the region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They also get to visit the Vivarais vineyards, a rustic terroir with mineral warm wines, before exploring the hillside of Tain l’Hermitage, the birthplace of syrah and one of the most prestigious vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône. From £844 per person (cruise only) for a five-night voyage, leaving on Oct 16 2018 (020 8328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk). Excludes flights.
8. Greek wine odyssey
Azamara is taking its newest ship Azamara Pursuit on a voyage from Venice to the Greek islands, including four late-night departures to allow guests to make the most of their visits. Among the excursions en route to Athens are owner-led vineyard tours in Katakolon, a visit to an organic wine farm in Monemvasia, and an evening tour and tastings in Santorini’s most acclaimed winery. Other islands on the voyage include Patmos and Corfu. From £2,506 per person for 10 nights (cruise only), leaving on Oct 10 2018 (0844 493 4016; azamaraclubcruises.co.uk).
9. Vintage delights in Australia and New Zealand
Swap autumn for spring and enjoy Australian and New Zealand wines on Holland America Line ship Noordam as you sail from Auckland to Sydney. In Napier on New Zealand’s North Island, guests can taste up to seven vintages at the nation’s oldest winery at Hawke’s Bay. From the port of Picton, on the South Island, they can explore Marlborough with either a visit to three wineries or a trip to the beautiful home of Cloudy Bay. Tasmania also offers award-winning cool-climate wines, and in Melbourne guests can sample shiraz, chardonnay and pinot noir in the Yarra Valley. From £2,759 per person for a 14-day cruise, leaving on Nov 8 2018 (0344 338 8605; hollandamerica.com).
10. Washington wineries
With more than 900 wineries growing 70 varieties of grape, Washington State in the Pacific northwest is now the second biggest producer of premium wines in the US. Find out more as you sail from Portland, Oregon, to Clarkston, Washington state, on American Pride, a Victorian-style paddlewheel boat. Excursions include: a tasting at the Italian-inspired Cascade Cliffs Winery beside Columbia Gorge; a guided tour of the Hamilton cellars in Richland; and a visit to the Basalt Cellars in the Lewis Clark Valley.
On board an expert will run tastings and pairings. Next year the route will be served by the first modern US riverboat, American Song.
From $5,085 (£3,939) per person for an eight-day voyage on Sept 1 2018 (001 203-458-5700; americancruiselines.com). Excludes flights.