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Wine o'clock! Drink your way around California's stunning wine country with Princess Cruises

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Princess Cruises takes travellers all over the world to explore the planet's most fascinating destinations and eat the finest foods. With the line's Wine Country cruises, you can now sample the very best wines, too.

Wine, according to French chemist Louis Pasteur, is "the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages,” so it's our firm belief the drink should be savoured to the max on a cruise holiday.

For some of the best wines in the world, you'll want to head to California, and the good news is, Princess Cruises will not only show the crème de la crème of the Californian coast, but it will also serve you oodles of vino along the way.

The popular cruise line offers six and seven-day Pacific Wine Country itineraries entirely dedicated to, yup, wine, with cruises sailing the west coast of the USA and even up to Canada.

From sipping on glasses of plonk onboard Princess' ships to partaking in wine tastings guided by renowned experts, you'll return home with a deeper appreciation of, well, grapes. Talk about small but mighty.

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Princess Cruises Wine Country itineraries

Princess Cruises sailings will take travellers to all the top Californian wine hotspots.

There's Santa Barbara - home to virtuoso vintners and gorgeous views, San Francisco - from where you can check out the world-renowned wine regions of Napa and Sonoma, Monterey - another world-class wine domain, and San Diego - home to Valley of the Sun.

You'll also travel into Oregon to visit the city of Astoria. The nearby Willamette Valley is famous for its whopping 600 wineries well known for pinot noir. Glug glug glug.

- READ MORE: What you didn't know about food and drink on Princess Cruises -

For all this, you'll be based onboard one of Princess Cruises' superb ships, with sailings offered on Crown Princess, Discovery Princess, Grand Princess and Majestic Princess (in 2022) and Ruby Princess.

The latter, which recently became Princess Cruises’ sixth MedallionClass ship back in service, is San Francisco's hometown cruise ship. Ruby Princess is sailing to sought-after destinations including Mexico, Hawaii, the California Coast, Alaska and the Panama Canal on five- to 15-day cruises through 2023. And yes, there's wine here too (more or that later). Hic.

Numerous excursions on the Pacific Wine Country itineraries will help you make the most of your trip. Head out into the American countryside and visit the best tasting rooms on the West Coast only steps away from the vineyards.

Santa Barbara is home to virtuoso vintners and gorgeous views. Credit: Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises Wine Country shore excursions

In Santa Barbara, there are two options, one on two wheels - Cycling Through The Vineyards - and one on no wheels - Wine Tastings & Picnic Lunch.

On the former, you'll be biking on a specialised hybrid bike with an upgraded gel comfort seat so no need to worry about comfort.

The scenic excursion starts in Ballard Canyon (highly regarded for its red wines made from Syrah and Grenache) and sees, you guessed it, guests cycling across vineyards belonging to an impressive 16 different vintners.

- READ MORE: What's it really like to cruise onboard Sky Princess? -

You'll continue your journey through quaint family farms and equestrian ranches and stop in Solvang, a Danish-themed village known for its festivals, wine-tasting rooms and delicious food. Nom Nom Nom.

Alternatively, if cycling isn’t your style, hop onto a motorcoach to Santa Ynez which features the ideal Mediterranean-style climate for growing grapes.

Here, sample one of the award-winning wines from small, boutique producers, learn about the process of winemaking and delve behind the scenes to learn how a humble grape turns into wine.

Solvang is a Danish-themed village known for its festivals and wine-tasting rooms. Credit: Shutterstock

As the name of the itinerary suggests, you'll be able to tuck into a fresh picnic at one of the wineries among the verdant hillsides. Al fresco at its best!

Over in San Francisco, there's a whole host of exciting itineraries on which you can explore this amazing (and very hilly) city.

To make sure you get your vino fix, though, hit the Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country excursion. Wineries around the town of Sonoma are noted for their fine Chardonnays, Cabernets, Merlot and Riesling.

- READ MORE: Princess Cruises reveals 2023-2024 Australia & New Zealand holidays -

On this excursion, you'll benefit from gorgeous views of San Fran as you drive out. Admire the impressive Golden Gate Bridge rising into the landscape and pick out famed spots such as Alcatraz, home to the well-known abandoned federal prison, and Angel Island, the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay.

Then - wine time. There are two vineyards scheduled with private wine tastings plus a private guide to answer all your burning questions. If your query is simply "When are we drinking the wine?" (we were all thinking it) you'll be glad to know there are tastings as well as tours here, along with time to purchase bottles of the good stuff to take home (yes, aunty Sheila, this case of Cab Sav really is all for me...).

Vines Wine Bar has been voted one of the best wine bars at sea. Credit: Shutterstock

On select Princess cruises, you can also visit San Diego. During the Temecula Wine Tasting excursion, you'll visit Vitagliano Vineyard, a family-owned establishment boasting the finest Tuscan varietals across Southern California.

Then, over at Mount Palomar Winery, home to a staggering 55-acres, you can sample six Bordeaux and Italian styles of wine amongst panoramic views of the vineyards and rolling hills. Slurp slurp slurp.

Still keen for more wine back onboard? Fear not, Princess has got your back (no vouching for your head the next day, however). Onboard all Princess ships, the Chef’s Table offers a wine pairing option and a wine tasting session of a selection of award-winning wines, with Suite guests able to enjoy this experience at no additional charge.

- READ MORE: Personalise your dining & tuck into unique dishes with Princess Cruises -

What's more, Crown Princess, Grand Princess and Ruby Princess all offer Vines Wine Bar, voted one of the best wine bars at sea by USA Today and boasting an impressive collection of wines and champagne.

Meanwhile, those sailing on Majestic Princess can quaff Yao Family Wines, an ultra-premium label from Napa Valley, with vintages brought to Princess by NBA hall of fame Yao Ming. Wines are paired with special dishes in the Yao Family Wines Winemakers Dinner.

So, whether you're a wine novice looking to learn what makes the different drinks unique or an experienced oenophile eager to deepen your appreciation, there's plenty on offer with Princess on and off the ship.

Bottoms up!

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