Category Archives: Wine

Europe GetAways in 2017

We have 2 exciting European Group GetAways scheduled for 2017.  They may both be cruises, but they are completely different!


1-Wine_grapes07First up is the Wines of Western Europe which includes Bordeaux (France), Basque (Spain) and Portugal.  Our group will be sailing aboard the luxurious Azamara Journey.  Azamara Club Cruises is at the crossroads of where luxury and destination immersive cruising meet.  This ship only holds 694 passengers and has a wonderful mix of amenities.  She’s a perfect-sized vessel: small enough that it’s never too far from one place to another, yet large enough to provide variety on long itineraries. On our trip we will experience late evening and overnight port stays.  The Journey was completely refurbished in 2016 –  it received new spa suites in the fully renovated Sanctum spa with updated decor in marble, light wood and a cream palate. Every suite and stateroom has new beds with the same decor scheme, and the restaurants also received a modern upgrade.

Our 12 Night GetAway begins in Southampton England on September 4 and ends in Lisbon Portugal on September 16.  Along the way you will experience the worlds foremost wine region in Bordeaux, spend a day at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, wash Tapas down with Rioja wine, and sip port in the Douro Valley – and so much more.  You can find more details at our website.  We hope you can join us.


salzburg2Our second European Group GetAway for 2017 is in December.  Why December?  Christmas MarketsCome with us and celebrate the season as we cruise along the Danube aboard the Uniworld SS Maria Theresa.  We last visited Christmas markets in 2014 and everyone had such a great time that we knew we’d definitely do it again.

If you’re tired of commercialism taking over the holidays, you will be very pleased with the traditions and romance of real Christmas markets where the gifts are not mass-produced but craftwork of real quality.   Our group will begin in Budapest and sail along the Danube while visiting Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.  Every stop along the way will feature special Christmas Market excursions.  You can find more details on the itinerary at our website.

Every Uniworld ship is as unique as it’s itinerary and the SS Maria Theresa is no exception.  It’s opulent 18th century décor is a floating homage to one of the Habsburg empires most beloved ruler.  The food, drink and service on Uniworld are absolutely outstanding – and everything is included!  Call now as there are limited time promotions where even the air is included!

  As always, we can be reached at 262.538.2140 or send us an email: paul@getaway.travel or sue@getaway.travel


 

Looking Forward – 2016 Year in Travel

European vacations continue to hold great value. The US Dollar remains at historic low levels vs. the Euro. This is good news for travelers to Europe as you definitely get more bang for your buck.  Our best advice for Europe is to plan ahead – this is not a destination that typically rewards the last-minute traveler.   The best way to start planning your European vacation is to schedule a consultation with Sue.

Uniworld River Baroness Honfleur France 3-26-2009 4-32-41 AMRiver Cruising continues to grow and for very good reasons. Our clients absolutely love to take River Cruises. All it takes is to try it once and you will rave about it forever. Be aware however that not all river cruise companies are equal. You can research endlessly on your own, or you can call us to discuss. Our goal is to find out about what you want to do, how adventurous you are, what you like and what you don’t like. What are your travel dreams?  Our recommendations are simply based on you and your needs, that’s it.

iberostar-rose-hall-beach-poolAll Inclusive vacations will remain hot, hot, hot. The industry continues to upgrade old properties and build new ones. There are All-Inclusives for all tastes and budgets. Well we know you want a warm weather, beach destination, but are you looking for a romantic escape or a family/multi-generational getaway? Do you want basic dining choices or a more gourmet experience?   How does a canopy covered bed and open air shower sound? Or a private plunge pool within mere steps of your suite? The choices go on and on.  We can help narrow it down to something you will love.

According to the experts, air ticket prices are down but add-on fees are up.  The simple fact, is you need air tickets to get to many vacation destinations. They are the transportation, not the vacation.

Cheap will remain, well….cheap. While the dictionary defines cheap as inexpensive, it also defines it as something of poor quality or shoddy. Continue to be cautious about anything advertised as cheap, supercheap, ultracheap, etc. A fantastically cheap vacation is not a good value if it is actually craptastic (this is our official industry word for cheap vacations!). Everyone wants good value and that’s where we help – get the best value for your money that actually gets the vacation experience you are looking for. Will it be cheap? We certainly hope not.

The best things in travel continue to come to those who plan ahead. For example, how about planning 2017? You may not be ready yet, but we are. We have 2 special group options worth considering.

Join us in January 2017 for our GetAway on the Getaway.   We will do all the following:  go down the highest water slides at sea, attend award-winning Broadway shows, experience Iron Chef dining, walk the plank and be endlessly entertained and pampered.   Book now and choose between Free unlimited drinks, Free Specialty Dining, Free Shore Excursions or Free WiFi.

In September 2017 we will be hosting a very special Wines of Western Europe group on the Azamara Journey.  Beginning in England, we will sail to France, Spain and Portugal.  Azamara specializes in unique itineraries that include overnight stays in many ports.  Our group will be in Bordeaux, one of the world’s foremost wine regions for 3 days.  But that is not the only World Heritage region we will visit – see our web page for all the details.

Waterfalls & Wine 2015

Our 2015 Waterfalls & Wine tour in the great Pacific Northwest was a tremendous success.

Heading out from Seattle, we went to see our first waterfall.  Snoqualmie Falls did not disappoint with an amazing double rainbow – this was truly a sign of all the good times to come.

Snoqualmie Falls - double rainbow

Snoqualmie Falls – double rainbow

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a great start to the tour

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Even at the falls, there is an opportunity to taste wine.

Our next stop was in Yakima at Gilbert Cellars – Hackett Ranch.  The hospitality was warm and welcoming, the wines were tasty and the scenery was outstanding.

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Happy folks in the lavender

Gilbert Cellars

The ladies are mesmerized

After a delicious catered lunch at the Hackett Ranch, we departed for Walla Walla, the town so nice they named it twice.  The group checked in a the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel.  This was our home for 2 nights while we explored the nearby wineries.

Day 2 began at L’Ecole – where the wine was very nice, but I think everyone agreed that our second stop of the day at Northstar was truly a hit.

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Wine tasting and lunch on the patio at Northstar

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After lunch we head to the vines to hear about Washington wines

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and then on to the wine blending class where everyone made their own red wine blend from 4 different barrels of Merlot, 1 Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 petite verdot

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the blend is starting to take shape

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the group shows off their personally crafted wines

After eating lunch and crafting our own red wine blends there was still another winery stop to make.  At Long Shadows we experienced a custom tasting and tour that included barrel sampling.

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keep it coming!

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the sadness and shock of seeing an empty fermentation tank

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Keep your wine thief handy, we’re having a barrel tasting

On day 3 everyone packed up for our journey to the waterfalls along the Columbia River Valley…but of course we stopped at a winery along the way.  Columbia Crest in Horse Heaven Hills.

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Our server at Columbia Crest for the reserve tasting was charming, engaging and a true delight. Look at all the happy faces

After a brewpub lunch stop we travelled along the Columbia River Gorge, with brief stops at 5 waterfalls.

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Amazing view of the Columbia River

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Evening of day 3 found us just outside of the Willamette valley.  For dinner we took over our hotel lobby, ordered pizzas and everyone brought a bottle of wine to share.  Day 4 began in the picturesque Dundee Hills.  Our first stop was Archery Summit.

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Our tour of Archery Summit had frequent stops to taste wine.

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Pretty bottles all in a row

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Just one of many vineyard views in Dundee Hills

The group loved Archery Summit and did not want to leave…except it was time for lunch.  So off we went to our tasting, tour and catered meal on the patio at Domaine Serene.

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side by side comparisons

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our tour at Domaine Serene begins

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After Domaine Serene, we had a special musical interlude

and then on to our next stop – Durant Vineyards

 

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the dancing continues

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outstanding views from Durant vineyards

Our final wine tasting in Willamette Valley was at Soter Vineyards

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artsy photo of Soter glass

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the gang continues to have fun

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is it time to dance again?

36-waterfallsandwine-035 At Soter even old friendships were made new again!

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A sincere thank you to everyone that joined us on the 2015 Waterfalls & Wine tour.  We look forward to our next journey together.

Seattle – Cruise Gateway to Alaska & Our Waterfalls & Wine Tour

Seattle, Washington is a very popular cruise port, especially for round-trip inside passage cruises to Alaska.  Seattle is also the launching point for our 2015 Waterfalls & Wine Tour.

Seattle is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and sits at one of the most unique spots in the United States. A narrow isthmus sandwiched between the Puget Sound & The Olympic Mountains on its west, and Lake Washington & the Cascades to its east.

Port of Seattle as seen from deck of cruise ship

Port of Seattle as seen from deck of cruise ship

As a visitor, you should explore Seattle at your own pace. You may opt to visit sites such as the iconic Space Needle with its wonderful 360 degree view of the city, waters and mountains surrounding it. Close by is the Chihuly Garden & Glass with its stunning sculptures in the glass house.Pike Market Seattle 320x240

Seattle has world-class museums such as the Pacific Science Center and the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum celebrating Seattle’s vibrant music scene and contributions to pop culture. While in Seattle, why not stop by the original Starbucks Coffee Shop located in the bustling Pike Place Market?

Post Alley

Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells as you nibble your way down to Post Alley or the Seattle Great Wheel. There are plenty of things to do in Seattle, but don’t stay out too late on Friday night June 19, as you need to hop on our luxury tour bus on Saturday morning where you will join up with some of our clients returning from an Alaskan Cruise.  From there you will head out for Waterfalls and Wine.

Wine & Waterfalls – sneak peak!

On our 2015 Wines & Waterfalls Tour – Sunday, June is the day of our Walla Walla, Washington wine exploration. We have personally selected 3 amazing wineries for you to visit. Our first stop is the family owned artisan winery – L’Ecole.  lecole 5 (3)

L’Ecole is located in a historic 1915 schoolhouse, which is the cornerstone of the brand as it is the centerpiece of their wine labels.lecole 5 (1)

L’Ecole grows and makes 100% of their terroir-driven, distinctive wines. L’Ecole has been honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine for 12 consecutive years as Winery of the Year. Decanter magazine named the 2011 L’Ecole Ferguson as the best Bordeaux blend in the world. Not just the best in Washington or in the US, but the best in the world!  Unfortunately the 2011 Ferguson is sold out now, but there will still be plenty of amazing wines to taste during our visit.

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Agency Exclusive Waterfalls & Wine Tour

We are very pleased to announce that we are now accepting deposits for our June 2015 Waterfalls & Wine tour!  Perfectly timed to coincide with our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise group, this is an agency exclusive tour – not available anywhere else.

winery oregon (2)Whether you are a wine novice or connoisseur, prepare yourself for an amazing time as we explore the wines and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.  Our group tour embarks from Seattle, Washington on a wines and waterfall focused journey through Washington State and into Oregon, ending in Portland.  Along the way you will view some of the areas most amazing waterfalls and sip wine at award-winning wineries.   Taste the big Merlots of Walla Walla Valley, the supple Chardonnays of Horse Heaven Hills, and the sleek sexy Pinot Noirs of Willamette Valley.  You will even create your own red wine blend to take home.  The waterfalls are not only amazing to view, they are extremely accessible.  You won’t be taking long hikes to see them, as you need to save your energy for sipping wine!   For all the details and pricing information – please visit our web page.

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Snoqualmie Falls

2015 Waterfalls & Wine Tour

Waterfalls & Wine

Our research is almost complete! In June 2015 we will be hosting a very special Waterfalls & Wine tour in the Pacific Northwest. From the supple Pinot Noirs of Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the Powerful Merlots of Walla Walla Washington, we will cover the wonderful world of Pacific Northwest Wines. Our wine country travels take us along the Columbia River Valley where we will view amazing displays of easily accessible waterfalls. You do the packing and leave the rest to us.

While we are firming up plans with wineries and hotels – mark your calendars – full details are coming soon!

Washington Grapes, Mountains & Waterfalls

Washington AVAs

Washington state ranks second in the US in wine production, behind only California.  Washington has twelve federally defined American Viticultural Areas (AVA) with all but one in Eastern Washington. The largest AVA is the Columbia Valley AVA, which extends into a bit of northern Oregon and encompasses most of the other Washington AVAs. These include Walla Walla , Horse Heaven Hills, Wahluke Slope, Lake Chelan, Naches Heights, and Yakima Valley, which in turn also encompasses Rattlesnake Hills, Snipes Mountain and Red Mountain.   In our short trip to the area, we traveled through the majority of these locations!

Horse Heaven Hills

Grapes were first planted in Walla Walla by Italian immigrants a very long time ago – it was in the 1950s and 1960s, the precursors of the state’s biggest wineries (Chateau Ste Michelle and Columbia Winery) began.  While many grape varietals thrive throughout Washington, the dominant ones are Rieslings, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  In our opinion the big boy is the Merlot with bright intense flavor and lush texture.  It is said that in California, Merlot is added to Cabernet Sauvignon to soften it, but in Washington, Cabernet Sauvignon is added to help soften the Merlot.

 

Besides the wine, the state has gorgeous scenery.  Check out our videos at Snoqualmie Falls and Mount Ranier below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our version of the Oregon Trail

The Oregon trail is an historic wagon wheel route, originally laid by fur trappers and traders that connect Missouri to Oregon.  Settlers used it to come west and stake out claims for land.  While the land journey is certainly a great trip, we took an air journey and flew into Portland.  Portland is an interesting and somewhat quirky town with many unique and interesting neighborhoods to enjoy as well as a highly accessible and enjoyable downtown area.  The Columbia and Willamette rivers run right through the heart of Portland, but they are not the only liquid assets here, which seems to have a micro brewery on every block.  For this trip, we were not there for the beer (sigh), but simply using it as our jumping off point to get to the Willamette Valley in search of grapes.

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The Willamette Valley has emerged in recent years as one of the premier wine producing regions in the country, even garnering international notoriety. The valley is home to over 300 individual wineries The climate, latitude, and geology is particularly suited to the production of top-quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris.  The Willamette Valley is a huge appellation that includes six sub-appellations: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton.

As we are still travelling, here is just a quick photo overview as it is almost time to get out and explore some more.

Stoller Family Estate in Dundee Hills.  Beautiful tasting room and great 100% Estate grown wines.

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Sokol Blosser Winery – the Evolution blend is easily found in the midwest.

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Durant Vineyards – one of our favorite stops!

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Archery Summit – Great wines and a unique (to this area) wine cellar tasting room

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Not just horsing around in Napa Valley

Today we are in iconic Napa Valley.  Our first stop is not the usual tourist hot spot.  We have an appointment at Tamber Bey.

Tamber BeyAccording to their website: “Vintner Barry Waitte founded Tamber Bey Vineyards in 1999, when he purchased a 60-acre vineyard in the Yountville Appellation and an 11-acre property in the renowned Oakville Appellation. This marked Waitte’s entry into the wine business as a grower. He immediately hired vineyard manager Josh Clark to plant and farm the properties with the goal of growing premium Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Dijon Chardonnay.”

Tamber BeyThe winery itself is located at the Sundance Ranch (an homage to Robert Redford – friend of the owners) in Calistoga, a world-class, 22-acre equestrian facility that is dedicated to training top performance horses. . The tasting room is located in the original barn clubhouse. The 16-stall barn surrounds the courtyard, where guests can taste wine and mingle with the horses. A spectacular view of Mount St. Helena and the Palisades frame the setting.  The wine barrels are currently stored in what was originally a horse show ring.

The wines were great and the setting was awesome!  Sue’s favorite was the Dijon Chardonnay and Paul’s was the Rabicono red blend. This is a great setting for a stop with our Napa winery group with Vino Etcetera .  We are still looking for a few dedicated wine enthusiasts to get the group on it’s way!