Wine lovers, take note. When Holland America Line’s new cruise ship Koningsdam debuts next spring, cruisers will be able to blend their own wine and drink it with dinner. At BLEND, a unique venue onboard the 2,650-guest ship, passengers can participate in a “tasting table” that accommodates 10 guests who will create their own blend from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. The wine blending sessions will be held daily for a fee, and reservations are required.
The venue is being created in collaboration with Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington State’s oldest winery. “At the core of every Holland America Line cruise is our desire to offer unique, immersive and innovative experiences, and BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle is all of those things and more,” says Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. “The BLEND experience on Koningsdam is designed to appeal to everyone, and it will be exciting for our guests to create an exclusive wine tailored to their personal taste that they can enjoy onboard with our exceptional cuisine.”
After viewing a welcome video by Bob Bertheau, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s winemaker, guests will learn interesting information about the history of Washington wines and winemaking, examine soil samples, and see how different vineyard sites impact the flavors and style of the wine. The Cellar Master also will instruct guests on what characteristics, flavors and nuances to look for in the wine from each barrel.
Guests then sample the five unique wines, featuring such varietals as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the winery’s Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge Estate vineyards, and make tasting notes on what they like about each. The blending begins in a graduated cylinder, with guests determining how much of each wine to include in their personal bottle.
After the personalized wine blend is put into the bottle with a stopper, guests will be able to create their own label to add a personalized touch. The wine will then be sent to The Dining Room or another restaurant, where it will be waiting for the guests to enjoy with their evening meal. Alternatively guests can take the wine blend to their stateroom to enjoy at their leisure.
Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle pioneered vinifera growing in Washington State and has been producing classic European varietal wines under the Ste. Michelle label since 1967. The winery owns 3,500 acres of vineyards in the Columbia Valley of eastern Washington, including Canoe Ridge Estate and Cold Creek.
Following its debut in April Koningsdam will cruise in Europe for the summer season before repositioning to Fort Lauderdale for winter sailings to the Caribbean.