Exclusive: AmaWaterways Offers Dedicated Wine Tours

With wine tourism growing in leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise that river cruises are cashing in on the market by offering visits to nearby wineries as optional excursions.

AmaWaterways, however, is taking the trend one step further, and launching dedicated “In Celebration of Wine” cruises this fall. Not only will guests on these cruises be able to visit vineyards and wineries by the Rhine, Mosel and Danube rivers, but American wine experts will be onboard to share their expertise.

“We’re trying to build a market for wine cruises on the Rhine, Danube and Rhone,” Gary Murphy, Ama’s Vice President National Accounts, told Luxury Travel Advisor when he came by our offices recently. “There will be lectures, and we will be shipping wines to the ship for tastings, and then going to local wineries.” Other excursions will also be available for those who would rather not go to the wineries, making the cruises suitable for couples or groups with different interests.

Murphy himself will be leading a tour in early November from Nuremberg to Luxembourg. In addition to the onboard wine tastings and excursions to wineries and wine cellars, Murphy says that he is excited about he local beer tastings (it’s Germany, after all!) and a tour of Reichsburg castle. Barry Wiss, Vice President of Communications and Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates, a Napa Valley winery, will be the resident wine expert on the cruise.

“This is the first wine cruise I’ve done,” Wiss told Luxury Travel Advisor. “I hadn’t had an opportunity to take advantage of other cruises, but when I heard about this one, I made an effort!” For his part, Wiss says that he is looking forward to sharing his love of wine with fellow enthusiasts who might not know all the different dimensions wine can have. “When it comes to wine, you never stop learning,” he says. “The wine world is always changing: There are new varieties, new laws, new exciting things. I want people to enjoy an incredible vacation with people who love wine and visiting beautiful places, and to get them more excited about wine.”

Wiss notes a high demand for wine education in the U.S., especially from the younger generation. As such, the first seminar on the cruise will be about aromas. “Ninety percent of wine is aromas, so I’ll teach people how to identify aromas in wine.” After that, Wiss will instruct guests in the art of Mastering Wine & Food pairing. “You need to understand the chemical balance to get it really right,” he says. “We’ll talk about the different regions. It will be relaxed, but educational.”

Wiss says that several years back, he and his team did a survey asking people what came to mind when they thought about different libations. When consumers and industry professionals were asked about beer, they thought about sports. When asked about spirits, they thought about parties and drinking to excess. But when asked for their thoughts on wine, they said the first image that came to mind was relaxing, socializing and talking about the finer things in life. "That's why wine cruises are popular," Wiss says. "They lend themselves to  the lifestyle."

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