There’s really only one thing you need to know about Wine on the River trips: Once you’ve done one, there’s no going back.
No other whitewater trip will ever live up to a Wine on the River experience. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with “normal” rafting trips. In fact, what the guides pull off on your typical trip is impressive. If you’ve ever had Dutch oven brownies after a steak dinner on the beach, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here. It’s just Wine on the River trips take your vacation to a completely different realm.
For starters, your guides will step aside so a professional chef can take over dinner every night. Not just any chef, either. Before your trip, ask the locals for the names of some of the best restaurants in the area. There’s a good chance that the talent behind one of those spots will actually be preparing their gourmet creations for you riverside. If that’s not the case, then you’ll have some other rock star chef who’s been flown in just because they’re that good.
And you might not think whitewater rafting and wine country destinations would be two of the same, but it’s likely you’ll find yourself passing through a well-established wine region on the way to the river. So, boxed wine might be your traditional go-to beverage for outdoor adventures, but that’s most definitely not what you’ll find on these trips. What you will find is a vintner from a regional winery who has joined the trip specifically to share their finest wines with you.
Just how much wine are we talking about? I’m not really sure how they get that many bottles to fit in the boats, but I can most-assuredly tell you there’s more than enough to go around. Oh, and get this, you won’t be drinking your wine out of a red Solo cup, or even one of those plastic wine glasses that are popping up at picnics everywhere. Nope, you’ll be sipping out of a stemless wine glass.
But let’s go back to the food for a moment. Imagine yourself sitting at a table with linens (yes, table and linens!), in the middle of the most beautiful and remote place you’ve ever been. Let’s set the scene and say smack in the middle of the Wild & Scenic Rogue River canyon where you’ve spent the entire day working up your appetite by paddling through Mule Creek Canyon’s narrow and rocky walls.
Now, imagine yourself sinking your teeth into one of the best meals you’ve ever had. It starts with a shrimp and scallop ceviche appetizer served on homemade tortilla chips and topped with a dollop of spicy red sauce. That’s paired with a fruity, river-chilled Viognier that balances all of those flavors that are dancing around on your tongue. Then, for dinner, you’re served braised lamb osso bucco on top of a creamy risotto that’s drizzled with mint remoulade and paired with a big, juicy Syrah. At this point, you don’t have room for dessert. Not until you see the picture-perfect crème brulee placed before you, that is. Yes, the chef did pack his blow torch. Pop goes another cork. The winemaker brings on the dessert wine.
That, my friends, is Wine on the River. Every. Single. Day. I can’t make this stuff up. That little scenario above is straight from my last trip. You’ve been warned.