River Cruise AmaWaterways brings U.S. winemakers to European wine regions By Michelle Baran / October 11, 2017 Share 1 AmaWaterways has numerous wine-themed cruises through Portugal's Douro River Valley. -- As part of its ongoing effort to continuously grow its popular wine-themed sailings, AmaWaterways has introduced more than 50 wine-themed itineraries for 2018, up from 34 in 2016 and 17 in 2015. But there is more to Ama's wine program than simply developing more cruises that go to and through the great wine regions of Europe. The secret sauce to the river cruise line's program is not just what's in the bottle, but in the winemakers, winery owners and expert oenologists, predominantly U.S.-based, who host the trips, many of which have devoted followers. "The variety of North American wine regions represented by the wine hosts, as well as the expertise and guidance shared during the trips, have contributed to making these wine cruises so popular," AmaWaterways said in a recent release about the 2018 wine program.AmaWaterways passengers at a wine tasting in Pinhao, Portugal. The 2018 line-up showcases husband-and-wife winery co-owners, wine-making families and a whole host of female wine entrepreneurs. They include Martin and Megan Clubb, co-owners of L'Ecole N 41 in Walla Walla Valley, Wash.; Anthony Bell, winemaker and owner of Napa Valley's Bell Wine Cellars; Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo, founders of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Tex., which helped re-introduce the concept of winemaking in Texas; and Amelia Ceja, president of Ceja Vineyards in Napa, Calif., and the first Mexican-American woman to be elected president of a winery. "Since introducing the concept of wine cruises more than seven years ago, we continue to see an increased interest from our guests, and plan to expand even further our partnerships with the North American wineries and wine experts hosting these incredible adventures," stated Ama president and co-owner Rudi Schreiner. AmaWaterways' wine sailings include educational lectures about wines and wine tastings hosted by the winemakers. They also include shore excursions such as visits to private cellars, vineyard walks and meeting with local vintners. The wine sailings take place in France's Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace regions; Germany's Moselle and Rhine valleys; Austria's Wachau and Portugal's Douro River area.