Cruise Con­nec­tion

An Un­cruise Ad­ven­tures wine cruise spot­lights vine­yards of the Pa­cific North­west.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - What’s Inside - BY JUDI CUERVO

I t’s 10: 30 a.m. and I’m at the 20-acre Mt. Hood Win­ery, Ore­gon’s 2016 Win­ery of the Year. In the glass be­fore me is a gold medal– win­ning 2015 Es­tate Pinot Noir that bears aro­mas of ripe cherry, pome­gran­ate, and rasp­berry ac­cented by sub­tle cedar over­tones. I swirl. I sniff. I sip. I’ve be­come re­ally good at this since board­ing Un­cruise Ad­ven­tures’ S.S. Legacy for a 7- day Rivers of Wine–themed sail­ing down the Columbia and Snake rivers. Since our de­par­ture from Port­land, Ore­gon, our diminu­tive, 86-pas­sen­ger ves­sel has trans­ported us down­river, nav­i­gat­ing the locks that dot these his­toric wa­ter­ways, past mag­nif­i­cent, ev­er­chang­ing vis­tas that bring this re­gion’s wines their unique and di­verse char­ac­ters. From the lush, green hills of the cooler, rain-drenched west to the desert-like east­ern area, grapes — so many va­ri­eties of them — thrive, just wait­ing for cre­ative wine­mak­ers to trans­form them into su­perb, and of­ten award-win­ning, pinot noir, caber­net sauvi­gnon, chardon­nay, ries­ling, mer­lot, and more.

I’d been in­trigued by Un­cruise Ad­ven­tures’ al­most-all-in­clu­sive S.S. Legacy (tours and all bev­er­ages are in­cluded; gra­tu­ities are not) ever since her 2013 de­but. A replica coastal steamer filled with pe­riod fur­nish­ings and charm­ing turn-of-the-century ac­cents, her most pop­u­lar sail­ings fol­low the path of Lewis and Clark’s leg­endary Pa­cific North­west ex­pe­di­tion.

This week, how­ever, our ex­plo­ration fo­cuses not on the two ex­plor­ers, but on the glo­ri­ous va­ri­etals of five Amer­i­can Viti­cul­tural Ar­eas (AVAs), or United States grape-grow­ing re­gions: Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla, Red Moun­tain, Columbia Val­ley, and Wil­lamette Val­ley. We’re vis­it­ing 10 winer­ies in seven days and are be­ing treated to evening wine pre­sen­ta­tions and wine pair­ings dur­ing the sump­tu­ous meals that S.S. Legacy turns out.

And, be­tween sips, we’re learn­ing things. Se­ri­ously.

Wine 101

The su­perb wines pro­duced in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon are the re­sult of the su­pe­rior soil and land­scape cre­ated from mil­lions of years of vol­canic erup­tions, mov­ing glaciers, plate tec­ton­ics, and the Mis­soula floods that de­posited grape-lov­ing silt all over the re­gion at the end of the last Ice Age. A cli­mate de­fined by long warm days ( up to 15 hours of day­light in the most north­ern ar­eas) and crisp nights cre­ates an ideal en­vi­ron­ment for grapes that will pro­duce bal­anced vin­tages ( heat bring­ing up a grape’s su­gar and cool de­vel­op­ing the fruit’s acid) while gen­tle winds pre­serve acid­ity in warm years and pre­vent rot in rainier ones.

Dis­cover va­ri­etals, vine­yards, and vis­tas of the Pa­cific North­west on an Un­cruise Ad­ven­tures wine cruise.

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