Do It Here, Then Do It There: Wine Tasting in Oregon, Winery Tours in Tuscany
West coast residents are lucky to live next to some of the world’s most incredible wine regions. Even the most sporadic wine drinker is familiar with Napa Valley and probably Napa’s neighbor to the west, Sonoma. Oenophiles also might be familiar with California’s central coast and the alluring earthy notes of varietals growing in Santa Ynez Valley, with its Pinot Noir made famous in the movie Sideways. When it comes to Pinot Noir, however, there is a new(er) player in town, Willamette Valley. Located in central Oregon, Willamette Valley makes for an excellent wine getaway.
Once you’ve checked Willamette Valley off your wine bucket list, head overseas on a wine cruise, specifically one that stops in Tuscany.
But before we get to the wine-filled wonders of Tuscany, here’s why you’ll also want to do a wine getaway in Willamette Valley — and how you can turn such a getaway into a wine cruise.
Do It Here: Wine Tasting in Oregon
Willamette Valley is located about an hour’s drive from Portland but feels a world away. Shallow hills covered in vines are framed by huge mountains in the distance and accented with the pine trees and other foliage that makes the Pacific Northwest such a great playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
The wineries of the Willamette Valley that are located on vineyards often have large patios and huge windows from which you can take in the views.
In downtown McMinnville, one of the main tourism towns for the Willamette Valley, you can walk from tasting room to tasting room, many of which are located on 3rd Street, McMinnville’s main street.
One thing to know about wine tasting in Willamette Valley is that the majority of your tastings are going to be Pinot Noir. You might try five different Pinots at one winery — and no other varietals. Even in central California, known for its Pinots, you’ll likely only find one or two on a tasting menu. In Willamette Valley Pinot Noir may be all you find on the tasting menu, which might surprise west coasters used to the variety of wine tasting flights you can typically find up and down California or even in Washington.
For some west coasters it might make sense to drive to Willamette Valley but if you want to make it an unforgettable vacation, cruise there! That’s right, you can experience the wines of the Willamette Valley during a Pacific Coastal cruise shore excursion while in port in Astoria, Oregon.
On the Willamette Valley Wine shore excursion, you’ll depart Astoria and go on a scenic drive through the countryside of Oregon before making stops at two Willamette Valley wineries. You’ll get to enjoy a tasting at each of these wineries. The shore excursion also includes a picnic lunch, which you’ll eat while taking in a scenic view.
Do It There: Wine Tours in Tuscany
One you’ve explored the wine regions of the U.S. west coast, like Willamette Valley, travel further away and head abroad to the wine region of Tuscany.
Tuscany is more than just rolling green countryside, hilltop towns, and gorgeous sunshine. It is also home to a vibrant wine region with famous varietals named after the towns in which they are prevalently grown. Sip Brunello di Montalcino in the walled city of Montalcino. Head to tasting rooms and wine caves for some Montepulciano d’Abruzzo while in the charming town of Montepulciano. If white is more your preference, try the Vernaccia di San Gimignano while exploring the ancient town and towers of San Gimignano.
You can easily visit the wine regions of Tuscany while on a Mediterranean cruise. Cruises that dock in Livorno, Italy, or La Spezia, Italy, offer shore excursions that take you around Tuscany for some wine tasting. Livorno and La Spezia are known for being the gateway ports of call for Florence and Pisa, but if you’re a wine lover, skip the big cities and head to the tranquil nature of Tuscany and its winding vineyards.
Here are a couple Tuscany wine shore excursions to get you dreaming:
Wine Tasting in Tuscany and Scenic Countryside Drive: Take a leisurely drive around the Tuscan countryside and see gorgeous vineyards and olive trees. During this shore excursion you’ll visit a Tuscan winery and tour the wine cellar as well as the winemaking facilities where you’ll learn more about how wine is made and bottled. You’ll also get to try some wine alongside some traditional Italian appetizers.
Wine Tasting in Tuscany: On this aptly named shore excursion, you’ll be taken to a vineyard and winery in Tuscany where you’ll do a wine tasting of reds and whites, plus get a tour of the winery and grounds.
Shopping Tour and Gucci Wine Tasting: If you don’t mind tasting local wine away from the wineries and vineyards of Tuscany and you love shopping, you may love this unique shore excursion that combines a day trip to a luxury outlet mall in Tuscany with a wine tasting on the gorgeous terrace connected to the Gucci store.
Ready to turn that wine vacation dreaming into reality? Plan your perfect cruise via Celebrity Cruises, or speak with your travel agent.