You certainly don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy these getaways. Each vacation includes delicious food, awe-inspiring sights, intriguing culture – and a good dose of relaxation.
Oceania Cruises brings you the union of La Reserve – the exclusive venue on board Marina and Riviera – and Wine Spectator, a popular magazine for wine connoisseurs.
The resulting La Reserve by Wine Spectator offers insightful wine seminars and tastings, as well as inspired gourmet pairings.
By day, the ships hosts wine tasting events led by Oceania Cruises’ sommeliers. By night, the venue offers dinners featuring multiple courses, each paired with exceptional wine recommended by Wine Spectator connoisseurs. The intimate space accommodates a maximum of 24 guests, while the executive chef and sommeliers share details about the wine selection and cuisine.
Seven signature dishes are served, and carefully curated red and white wines enhance the experience.
Pairings range from the traditional, such as bold, full-bodied Château Bouscaut Bordeaux and châteaubriand, to the more adventurous, like soft Spanish red paired with bay scallops – a refreshing alternative to the classic pairing of white wine with seafood.
Enjoy the wine connoisseur experience in La Reserve by Wine Spectator aboard Marina’s 12-day Nordic Pathways voyage from London to Copenhagen, departing Aug. 2, 2015.
Alternatively, depart on Riviera’s 11-day Artistic Discoveries voyage from Venice to Barcelona, departing May 11, July 25 and Nov. 7, 2015.
For more information, call Marlin Travel in White Rock at 604-538-4499 or stop by 1544 Johnston Rd.
Okanagan health retreat
For wine lovers who want to explore the best B.C. has to offer, Sparkling Hill Resort in the Okanagan Valley is close to several wineries and vineyards – including family-owned Arrowleaf Cellars, organic Baccata Ridge Winery, and sustainable Edge of the Earth Vineyard – as well as within driving distance from hundreds of other award-winning wineries.
After the daily wine tours and tastings are complete, guests can sit back and enjoy their view of Lake Okanagan in Vernon from one of 149 luxury rooms and penthouses outfitted with Swarovski crystal fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Sparkling Hill Resort’s health-focused cuisine, served at PeakFine restaurant, is prepared with European flare, and carefully paired with wines from the Okanagan Valley, including a special selection from Bounty Cellars. These “Crystal Wines” – including a 2010 Gewürztraminer and a 2011 Meritage –showcase the best attributes of the region’s wine.
After dining, guests can enjoy Sparkling Hill Resort’s 40,000-square-foot KurSpa, which includes access to seven aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms, an indoor pool complete with underwater music and a starry Swarovski crystal sky, a hot pool, an outdoor infinity pool, Kneipp water therapy, tea and serenity relaxation rooms and a fitness studio.
For more information, call 1-877-275-1556 or visit sparklinghill.com.
Tour Southern France
Admire gorgeous scenery while enjoying delicious food and wine tastings on this intimate tour of Southern France.
Nine days and eight nights start by being transferred from Toulouse Airport to the beautiful walled city of Carcassone.
For the rest of the tour, you will visit the Corbieres, Limoux and Bordeaux vineyards, while travelling through the quaint towns of Sarlat, Saint Emillion and Saint Beauzeil.
Enjoy a Canal du Midi boat ride, a cooking class, and a professional driver guide throughout the tour. Breakfasts and some dinners are included. You will be spoiled!
For more information about this vacation, call White Rock Travel at 604-531-2901 or stop by 1472 Johnston Rd.
Relax in South America
Apart from several wine regions in Europe that can be experienced on a river cruise, there are many other areas of the world that are known for their spectacular wines. On this vacation, enjoy a South Pacific cruise that takes in the southern part of Australia.
There you’ll find household names like Penfolds, Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek, plus countless boutique estates, all within the Adelaide area.
Or perhaps South America appeals? While Chilean wines are better known on the foreign market, Argentinean wine is increasing in quality and is making a global impact. Wine is also produced in Brazil, Peru and small quantities in Uruguay.
How about a 36-day cruise sailing from Vancouver all the way down the west coast around Cape Horn up to Buenos Aires? On this trip you can experience a wide variety of wine, including bottles from California, Chile and Argentina. As the world’s eighth largest wine producer, South Africa’s wine trade contributed 26.2 billion rand ($2.4 billion) to the country’s economy, with exports increasing by more than a quarter in 2013. Wine is becoming increasingly popular on the continent, but the industry is still in its infancy outside South Africa.
For more information, call Cruise Holidays of White Rock at 604-531-3307 or visit 2429 152 St., Surrey.
For Crystal Roche from Lloyds Travel & Cruises in South Surrey, wine tours have evolved from a favourite pastime into a full-time profession.
Her first introduction to wine touring was in Yugoslavia during the summer of 1987, where she enjoyed a variety of “stunning” and affordable wine.
A few years later, Roche biked through the Loire Valley and had “amazing Champagne tours down in the smoke-stained caves, remnants of the German retreat during the Second World War.”A trip to Rome years later had her eating dinner in the wine caves of a hotel just off the main train station.
Though these independent wine touring experiences were fun, today there are specialty tours and suppliers that offer a wide variety of wine experiences.
Most river cruises in Europe offer complimentary wine on board that is often sourced from vineyards that were visited earlier in the day. One of Roche’s favourite river cruises explores the Douro River in Portugal.
Here, you will experience outstanding port and come to love “green” wine – a fresh and light (and very affordable) wine that must be served ice-cold.
If you prefer to stay on ground, suppliers also have amazing Italian wine and food tours, Roche adds.
For more information about Lloyds Travel & Cruise vacations, call 604-531-8388 or drop by 12869 16 Ave., Surrey.