Oceania Cruises is pleased to announce the release an exclusive series of specialty food and wine focused shore excursions – Epicurean Immersions. Produced in conjunction with renowned culinary experts at Food & Wine Trails of Sonoma, California, these tours offer enriching, one-of-a-kind experiences providing an up-close and in depth look at local food and wine legacies. Each tour showcases its culinary treats at magnificent estates, centuries-old wineries and traditional restaurants; many of which are not open to the general public or only known by the most seasoned of travelers. Many of the tours include meals at some of the world’s best wineries or private homes – settings that enhance both food and drink, and will leave guests with a true taste of southern Europe.

Italy, Greece and the south of France are an epicurean’s delight and the perfect stage for this new series of culinary tours which are offered in virtually all 2008 and 2009 western Mediterranean voyages. Featuring tours in Venice, Florence La Spezia, and Sorrento, Italy; Corfu, and Santorini, Greece; Provence, France; a variety of half- and full-day tours are available. As guest participation is typically limited to 25 or 30 guests, the tours offer a unique perspective not just into the local cuisine, but the personalities that are the fabric of the region’s history and lore.

Enhancing and enriching the tours, and ensuring a truly immersive experience, each is led by a renowned expert. Noted wine experts, cookbook authors, and critically acclaimed food and wine academe such as Judy Francini, Pamela Sheldon, Judy Witts, and Padraig Fournier are among the luminaries that will personally guide guests through each Epicurean Immersion. Each is not only intimately acquainted with the local food and wine scene, but has been instrumental in designing the tours.

“We are always searching for new and exciting ways to enhance and enrich our guests’ culinary experience, whether aboard ship or ashore. With this series of intimate and in depth tours, our guests can immerse themselves in the local cuisines and wines while truly connecting with the local culture,” stated Bob Binder, President of Oceania Cruises.

Food & Wine Trails, the educational tour division of HMS Travel, organizes international food and wine tours for many of America’s top food and wine organizations.  Clients include Robert Mondavi, Beringer and Kosta Browne wineries, culinary schools like the Culinary Institute of America and consumer groups like ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers), the American Wine Society and Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

To preserve the intimate nature of these experiences, availability on these tours is extremely limited. Please consult your travel agent, or call Oceania Cruises at 800-531-5658 to reserve your Epicurean Immersions.

Best of La Spezia Experience
La Spezia, Italy

·    Chef lead cooking demos
·    Tasting of locally prepared artisan products
·    Wine paired luncheon prepared by a local chef
·    Free time to explore and shop for local wines, olive oil and other regional products

Best of Venice Strolling and Noshing Experience
Venice, Italy

·    3-hour guided walking tour through three popular campos (neighborhoods)
·    Three noshing stops for traditional bite sized snacks
·    Lunch served with wine in a trattoria

Best of Florence Strolling and Noshing Experience
Florence (Livorno), Italy

·    Walking tour of the Mercato Centrale food market with snacks provided at pre-arranged food stands. This program is personally led by Judy Witts, who has been recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine and leads one of Europe’s most acclaimed culinary programs.
·    Lunch served with wine at a local trattoria
·    Two and a half hours to independently explore Florence

Best of Santorini Wine Experience
Santorini, Greece

·    Guided tour of the Oia Village
·    Private Tour and Tasting at the Boutari Winery with a hosted wine paired lunch
·    Private Tour and Tasting at Domaine Segalas, the only Greek winery selected by Wine Spectator in their Top 100 Wines of the World
·    Free time in the town of Thira and a cable car ride down to the pier
Best of Provence Wine Experience
Provence (Marseille), France

·    Private tour of historic Chateau Bas and the estate grounds
·    Private, winery staff led tasting of their highly rated wines
·    Multi-course, Provencal luncheon served with premium wines
·    Two hours for shopping and exploring Aix-en-Provence

Best of Pompeii Wine Experience
Sorrento/Capri, Italy

·    1-1/2 hour guided tour of the archeological area of Pompeii
·    1 hour guided vineyard and cellar tour of the Azienda Sorrentino Winery
·    Winery hosted lunch paired with Azienda Sorrentino Lacryma Christi red & white wines

Best of Ornellaia Wine Experience
Florence (Livorno), Italy

·    Guided tour of the Ornellaia vineyard, one of the few wineries to ever receive a perfect “100” score by Wine Spectator magazine.
·    Guided tour of Ornellaia’s estate property and wine cellar
·    Luncheon paired with wines hosted by Ornellaia’s hospitality staff
·    Free time to explore a medieval village
·    Opportunity to purchase wines and other regional products

Best of Corfu Wine Experience
Corfu, Greece

·    Tour of the Theotoki Estate olive press and winery facility
·    Self exploration of the Estate grounds and historical document library
·    Wine and food tasting hosted by the Theotoki family
·    Country luncheon at “Spyros and Vassilis” restaurant served with wine

Best of Gragano Pasta Experience
Sorrento/Capri, Italy

·    Tour of the Villa San Marco in Castellamare
·    Guided tour of the Di Nola Pasta Company in Gragano with a demonstration of traditional pasta making and drying methods
·    Lunch or Dinner hosted by the Zampino Family in their restaurant, with traditional pasta dishes served with wine

Best of Terriccio Wine Experience
Florence (Livorno), Italy

·    Visit to a medieval village with time to explore and shop for local wines, olive oil and other regional products
·    Guided estate tour of Castello del Terriccio
·    Wine tasting presented by a member of the Hospitality Staff
·    Wine paired luncheon hosted by the winery
·    Independent time to explore the estate grounds and purchase wine