Northern Michigan winery

Northern  to host wine-tasting river cruise trip in France

When looking for new ways to provide entertaining experiences for their wine club members, the Left Foot Charley team came up with a bold proposal that would have fans dusting off their passports: a river cruise to Bordeaux, France. It will combine world-class wine tasting with a dash of Old World culture, as well as a variety of itinerary possibilities.

The initial journey from the Traverse City vineyard will depart in May 2022 aboard the AmaDolce, a river cruising ship from AmaWaterways’ European fleet. The trip is open to anybody interested in wine and travel, not just members of LFC’s burgeoning wine club. Bryan and Jen Ulbrich, co-owners of LFC, will be in charge.

“Iconic châteaux, timeless vineyards, and delectable wine tastings abound as we visit Libourne, Blaye, Bourg, Pauillac, and Cadillac for a 7-day journey through this ancient wine region,” according to the tour’s description. Private group wine tastings, guided tours, vineyard excursions, and riding along the Dordogne River will keep you busy during the day, while you spend your nights visiting the villages.” The trip details will be discussed at a special Bordeaux and Barrels event on Oct. 14 at LFC.

Left Foot Charley’s director of sales, Kristy McClellan, said the tour concept came up while the team was brainstorming fresh and unusual experiences to give wine club members. ” Bryan and she have discussed taking trips for there own education, and that they have a great deal of respect for the wines produced in Bordeaux.

It’s possible that some of LFC’s growers will accompany them. The urban winery, which produces around 5,000 cases per year, collaborates with a group of roughly 20 Traverse City area farmers who harvest the grapes for LFC’s boutique style wines. While the vineyard produces a wide range of grapes and ciders, its Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir, and Kerner – a light German-style wine – stand out.

Kim Schmitz, a river cruise specialist, is the LFC trip’s travel coordinator. She’s enthralled by the alternatives accessible to cruise passengers. While some guests will be concentrating on wine tasting and vineyard history, others will be able to go on bicycle daytrips and explore the various towns the cruise will pass through for the day.


“they are going to all of those small villages,” Schmitz explained. “they  can go out on their own and see how well your French works out.” Guests can plan ahead of time or wait until the day begins to see what their group wishes to accomplish.

A total of 140 passengers can be accommodated on the voyage. While they are not required to be a member of the LFC wine club to sign up, there will be exclusive events on board for club members. The winery employees who are going on the vacation also intend to buy local wines and have on-board tastings while on the ship.

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