In the Grip of the Grape
A European-style wine cruise close to home in Portland
By Suzanne Morphet, Victoria Boulevard Magazine
ON A RECENT WINE CRUISE I learned a few surprising things: a higher alcohol content doesn’t make better wine; the smaller the grape, the more concentrated the flavour; and most importantly, you needn’t go to Europe for a river cruise that takes in award-winning wineries, spectacular vistas and rich history.
In fact, you need go no further than Portland, Oregon. That’s where Un-Cruise Adventures has launched its new wine-focused cruise that takes in four rivers, nine wineries and countless moments of swirling and sipping, both on board and off.
Our home for the week is a replica coastal steamer — the SS Legacy — similar to the ships that plied the Columbia River from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. It’s casual yet elegant, with lots of wooden cabinetry and turn-of-the-century décor. The ship can accommodate 88 passengers, but on this cruise, there are just 63. (A couple from the San Juan Islands occupy the spacious Owner’s Suite on the top deck and over the course of the week, they reveal they won a $217 million lottery in 2013.)
Leaving Portland, we waste no time getting down to the business of pleasure. While our ship waits for us near The Bridge of the Gods on the Columbia River Gorge, we visit three wineries our first day — two in Oregon and one in Washington.