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Rick Montgomery
March 1, 2021 | Rick Montgomery

A Trip To Italy

Few places in the world capture the global imagination of travel more than the central Italian province of Tuscany.

A trip to Italy – especially if it’s a first one – is not complete without a visit to the great city of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the breathtaking hill towns that dot the rolling countryside all the way south to Tuscany’s other great city of Siena. 

When it comes to wine, everything is held together in Tuscany by the great indigenous grape of Sangiovese. For hundreds of years the ancient blend of Chianti was the law of the land until a powerful Tuscan count named Antinori went against the tide to import and grow French grapes. The new blend of Sangiovese with Bordeaux varietals, became known as “Super Tuscan.”

Having become a fan of Super Tuscans during my 13 years in Italy, I was both relieved and amazed to discover that Brian Carter’s Tuttorosso perfectly captures the essence of Super Tuscan wine at a price point that is unbeatable. I love that Brian, like Count Antinori before him, also broke from tradition by adding the Southern Rhone grape of Syrah to the mix! 

Brian has also made a 100% Sangiovese for his “One” series of wine. His spectacular 2015 Sangiovese transports me directly to Tuscany every time I taste it. 

Even though it might be too soon to travel, it’s never too soon to plan a trip! I recommend flying into Florence and traveling one way south to Rome. It’s just 2.5 hours on the main highway between these two great cities so what I love to do is book an Airbnb or Vrbo in the middle of it all, perhaps somewhere near Montepulciano, and then take “hub and spoke” trips all over the place. 

You can buy olive oil where Pavarotti bought it on Lake Trasimeno, climb the towers of San Gimignano and taste the way Sangiovese took to the different soils of this volcanic landscape, including the Nobile di Montepulciano or the Brunello di Montalcino.

For those of you who want to travel off the path, be sure to make your way to lesser traveled Northeast Tuscany where you can visit Saint Francis’s hallowed “La Verna” and pop into the very house where Michelangelo was born.

For more wine travel ideas, email me at

Buon viaggio!


Rick Montgomery

General Manager at Brian Carter Cellars Tasting Room and Wine Bar

On the New Vancouver Waterfront

660 Waterfront Way

Vancouver, WA. 98660


Time Posted: Mar 1, 2021 at 10:35 AM Permalink to A Trip To Italy Permalink
Brian Carter Cellars
February 5, 2015 | Brian Carter Cellars

Bordeaux River Cruise

Bordeaux River Cruise: A week in French Wine Country

with Paul Gregutt of Waitsburg Cellars,
Brian Carter of Brian Carter Cellars,
Chris Peterson of Avennia Winery

 Join these Washington winemakers for seven nights in Bordeaux aboard the River Royale, a 130-passenger cruise ship sailing on the Dordogne, Garonne, and Gironde Rivers. This vessel sails from Bordeaux on Sunday, July 19th to Sunday, July 26th. Come early and stay late to enjoy Bordeaux, Paris, or Normandy after seven nights on the river. Explore Pauillac, Medoc, Saint Émilion, Libourne, Bergerac, and the city of Bordeaux. Visit Chateaux, tour cellars, and experience the wine that put Bordeaux on the map.

River Royale will cruise the three rivers that define the region, the Garonne, Gironde, and the Dordogne. In addition to the shore excursions and wine events provided by Uniworld, guests will have the opportunity to enhance their holiday with visits to renowned wine producers and chateaux in the area.

Extras aboard ship include a private seminar by instructors from l’Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux. We’ll also have an evening of tasting to compare the wines from the Bordeaux region with Bordeaux-style Washington Wines. You’re encouraged to bring whatever special bottles you might have found while ashore to enjoy with dinner or to taste with friends.

Opportunities exist to join small group excursions to visit First Growth producers in Medoc such as Mouton Rothschild and Chateaux Margaux. In contrast to the more established producers, tours will also be available to more contemporary wine makers in the area who are creating great wines.

River cruising is the easiest and most affordable way to tour Europe in comfort and style. Ships dock right in the heart of the towns and villages along the river. The itinerary is designed to maximize your time in each port of call.

Take a walking tour through a medieval village. Experience a winemaking course at the prestigious l’Ecole du vin. Join a small group to explore centuries old chateaux or taste one of the many “garagiste” producers that are establishing themselves in the region.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early for 2-3 nights in Bordeaux prior to sailing. The area is known for its vintages, but is incredibly rich in history, architecture, and natural beauty. Indulge yourself in additional wine experiences or tour the countryside.

It would be a shame to travel to France and not spend time in Paris. Stay three nights after the river cruise to experience the City of Lights. I have a hotel on the Left Bank near the Luxembourg Gardens that is a perfect place to wrap up your holiday.

Cruise Dates are July 19th to 26th, 2015

Tour program costs

Seven nights in Bordeaux on an all-inclusive river cruise ship, sailing the Garonne, Dordogne, and Gironde Rivers
Prices start at $3284 per person (category 3), based on double occupancy. - July 19th to July 26th
Optional pre-cruise stay in the city of Bordeaux for 2 or three nights. - July 23rd or 24th to July 26th
Optional post-cruise stay in Paris for three nights. - July 26th to July 29th
Optional Normandy D-Day beaches tour following the Paris stay option. - July 29th to August 1st

What your cruise includes:

• Seven nights’ accommodation aboard the ALL-INCLUSIVE River Royale
• Welcome reception
• All meals aboard ship
• Complimentary wine, beer, spirits, and soft drinks
• Uniworld Shore Excursions and tours as outlined
• Shipboard gratuities and Port Taxes
• Free WiFi access on aboard
• On board wine tasting and discussion
• Airport Transfers (Bordeaux Airport) on July 19th and 26th
• Access to optional wine excursions and tastings throughout the week

Paris and Bordeaux extensions include accommodations, tax, breakfast, local sightseeing, and airport ground transportation. Paris extension also includes TGV Rail from Bordeaux to Paris. Extensions are hosted by a representative of Northwest Travel Service.

Round trip airfare is available for as low as $1450. Business class options start at approximately $2800 round trip.

An initial deposit of $2000 per cabin is required to confirm your reservation.
Balance of payment for the cruise is due by January 15th, 2015.

Additional discount for check payment is determined by category. Check Discount is:
$400 per cabin category 1
$350 per cabin, category 2
$260 per cabin for category 3

Special discount of $600 per cabin is available to guests of Brian Carter Cellars.
Only 14 cabins remain available.

For reservations or more information, visit A full brochure is available by contacting Brad Cilley by email or phone at 425 313 1691 or

Northwest Travel Service
4271 257th Place SE, Issaquah, WA. 98029
425 313 1691