You and your friends have organized a successful wine tasting club. You have done everything right for each monthly meeting:

  • Decided in a formal or informal format
  • Created a theme like “Wines from Chile,” “Best of California Cabernets,” or “Favorite Vacation Wines”
  • Secured appropriate wine tasting supplies and accessories such as glasses, rinsing pitchers, trash cans, drinking water, soft bread or crackers, and a tasting evaluation form for each member.
  • Time allocated for research enrichment shared by members or an external presenter, such as a local wine merchant or winemaker.
  • Focused on food and wine pairing with the theme of the meeting.
  • Mailed or sent out a newsletter with the upcoming meeting location, agenda, topic, and other details, as well as a review of the last meeting’s tastings, upcoming wine-related community events, etc.

    You have done well. Membership has grown and your group of like-minded people are now the best of friends. Where can you go from here? Plan a trip for your group to a wine country! Start with a short trip, perhaps a three- or four-day Napa Valley cruise. After a successful wine vacation or two, plan a longer trip to the wine regions of France, Germany, South Africa, or even Australia and New Zealand.

    The small ship cruise line, Cruise West, offers two itineraries to enjoy the California wine country in September and October. Winemaker’s Choice it is a perfect four-night trip to delve into the world of food and wine. The renowned Culinary Institute of America is the setting for a cooking demonstration and wine program, and enjoy unparalleled dining at venues like Auberge de Soleil, perched high with a magnificent view of Napa Valley, or a limousine tour designed specifically for cabernet lovers ready to sample some unique local wines. You’ll also have the opportunity to stroll through charming Sausalito and celebrated Sonoma.

    “Vine Culture” is a weekend cruise focused on wine, with tastings and educational discussions with winemakers at port calls. Savor fine wine, splendid landscapes and panoramic views of the rich Carneros growing region at the entrance to the Wine Region. As well as a stop in the charming town of St. Helena, you’ll enjoy a three-course lunch at the cave theater at Clos Pegase and a tour of this winery’s comprehensive art collection. In Sonoma, you’ll visit the Benziger winemakers and take a tractor-drawn trolley ride through their vineyards to see their vines firsthand. Sample champagnes from noted winemaker Domaine Carneros while taking a break on their stunning terrace at an afternoon reception.

    Both itineraries begin and end at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and the opportunity to schedule an extra day to explore that city’s unique features in more detail can be easily arranged.

    Cruise West ships feature a casual dress code, an inviting atmosphere, a stylish crew and a dining schedule dictated by the day’s activities, so everyone feels comfortable on board. And because guests on board tend to be energetic travelers seeking new experiences, they’re generally open to making friends along the way. Enjoy wine tastings on board, organized by representatives of various wine institutions. Recommended for beginners and wine connoisseurs who want to see the California wine country from a unique perspective. All in all, it’s a satisfying way to explore California’s wine country. Start planning a wine country tour for your group today. An escape for the senses!