Tag Archives: wine

Day Trips from Auckland

Have a few days in Auckland but not sure what to see? Why not join a day or half-day tour exploring the great highlights of the town and around? Board a dinner cruise, watch a breaktaking Maori haka performance, or take a tour into the mysterious Waitomo glow caves. Below are just some of the many tours available on the North Island. Call us up to book or discuss your thoughts: 503-224-0180.

Hop-on Hop-off Tour

The hop-on hop-off buses take you around major sites of the vibrant city of Auckland. Explore Kelly Tarton’s Sea Life Aquarium, Auckland Museum, Sky Tower, Parnell Rose Park Gardens, Bastion Point Lookout and much more. Includes audio commentary in multiple languages. From 33 USD.

Dinner Cruise on Waitemata Harbour

Take an evening cruise from Auckland to the gorgeous Waitemata Harbour for a spectacular view of the city lights at night. Dine aboard a 50-foot yacht and enjoy a beautiful, scenic dinner. From 79 USD.

Photo by Sids1, Creative Commons

Whale-watching in Hauraki Gulf

Take a luxurious 20m high-speed catamaran out on Hauraki Gulf for an unforgettable viewing of whales, dolphins and sea birds. Considered one of the most biologically diverse marine parks in the world, there have been no less than 22 species of marine mammal identified in this gulf. Cruise around with a crew of scientific experts for some spectacular views of these creatures. From 131 USD.

Bungee Jump

Take the 40-meter plunge from Auckland Harbour Bridge over sparkling Waitemata Harbor. This fun, adrenaline-rushing excursion offers a number of options available, including the favorite “water touch.” From 123 USD.

photo by Graeme Churchard, Creative Commons

Hobbiton Tour

Take a small group tour through the movie set of Hobbiton. Pose for photographs in front of hobbit holes and wander the Shire for glimpses of the party tree, Green Dragon Inn and Bilbo Baggins’ house. Afterwards, enjoy lunch at The Shire’s Rest Café. From 196 USD.

Maori Tour

Explore Auckland’s historic sites from the Maori perspective. See a live performance of the Haka War Dance and explore the surrounding countryside, including the ancient forest of Tiriwa. You’ll learn about black sand beaches, native flora and fauna, and Maori legends and traditions, all from a well-versed Maori guide. From 243 USD.

Kumeu Wine Country

Sample the region’s top wines just outside of Auckland in Kumeu. Discover the wine-pioneering history of the area, stroll along the gorgeous Muriwai Beach, and enjoy tastings from several award-winning wineries. Afterwards, enjoy a fresh Mediterranean-inspired New Zealand lunch at the Solkans Estate Winery. From 147 USD.

photo by Ian Armstrong, Creative Commons

Waitomo Caves and Rotorua

Take a guided tour from Auckland to the glowworm grotto of Waitomo by foot and boat. Catch a magnificent view of Rotorua’s bubbling mud pools and geysers. Visit the Agrodome for shearing demonstrations and sheep mustering. From 267 USD.

Our agents have been to New Zealand many times and would love to share our knowledge and expertise with you! Give us a call at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Châteaux du Vin in France

Wish to explore and taste the best wines and dishes of the French countryside? WIT Agents can book reliable, unique accommodations that offer something special to your tour of France. Stay in a château for a one-of-a-kind experience! Enjoy the vineyards around Bordeaux and Burgundy, and sample the delicious reds and cheeses of this region from the comforts of your château. Sleep in a charming, venerable mansion dating back a few centuries, share French breakfasts with your lovely hosts, and tour the idyllic countryside—all for an affordable price. Call us for more details.

Photo by Jean-Pierre, Creative Commons

Châteaux of Bordeaux Region


Situated 15 minutes from Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion in St. Loubes, La Ville D’O is a charming 1850’s residence. With only eight rooms and an expansive park, the villa maintains a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. The estate has preserved its splendid appearance with elongated windows, brown stone walls, and panoramic garden views. 33450 St Loubes.


Located five kilometers from Bordeaux, the Château du Pian is an enclosed park of five hectares, famed throughout the region for its famous wines and excellent village restaurants. This authentic chateau offers three rooms and three suites, and is the perfect accommodation for nature-lovers who enjoy the regional wines. 33270 Bouliac.

Châteaux of Burgundy Region


This famed winery was built in 1842 and is only 12 kilometers from Beaune. The wine from Montrachet is an Apellation d’origine controlee and Grand Cru vineyard, producing considered some of the finest dry white wines in the world. Wander in the winery’s luxuriously arched cellars, enjoy a tasting, and explore the vineyard-bedecked countryside at your leisure. 21190 Puligny-Montrachet.


This star of the north is situated three kilometers from Beaune, with spacious rooms and views of seventeen gorgeous vineyards. The historic and elegant château displays several architectural styles, typical of Burgundian buildings from the Renaissance. Complete renovated in 2007, it consists of three large rooms and two family suites. The relatively flat land of the Saone plain allows for some unique soils and simple, thin, predominantly Pinot Noir wines. 21200 Chorey les Beaune.


A charming inn situated just 10 km from Macon, Bellevue has excellent rooms and gastronomy tours into the heart of Burgundy. 71570 Saint Amour Bellevue.


This 16th century property is in the middle of a vineyard measuring four hectares. Just 20 kilometers from Macon, the estate produces the delicious and delicate Chardonnay AOC Viré-Clessé. Enjoy a sophisticated seasonal menu to compliment the tastes of remarkable whites.

Châteaux of Rhône Valley


Forty kilometers from Lyon in the Rhône valley, this vineyard is a stunner. With views of the Rhône river, a water level terrace, excellent cuisine and vine-strewn hillsides, this is one estate not to be missed.

All of our agents are well-versed in France and would love to share our knowledge and expertise with you. Photo above is representative and not one of the actual properties. Contact us for more information on these lovely chateaux: info@wittravel.com and 503-224-0180.

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Filed under Europe, France, Luxury Travel, Travel by Taste


Imagine yourself at a table in Mendoza city. Food is terrific and tasty. The dishes in front of your nose are a myriad of delights: regional cheeses; salmon, trout; baked beef served with chimichurri sauce; locro, a dish of maize, beans, and pig’s feet; fried empanadas; tomatican, cherry tomatoes cooked with spring onions and eggs; Figassa butter bread; carne a la olla, meat and white wine stew in an iron pot; and spicy humita en chala sauce.

All of these tasty and hearty dishes are served with the finest wine of the province. Home to two-thirds of Argentina’s entire wine production, Mendoza has steadily been climbing the ranks of the finest wine regions of the world. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, these vineyards cultivate acres of Criolla Grande, Cereza, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay. These vines arrived with the Spaniards and share a common ancestry with the grapes in Chile and Peru.

The city of Mendoza herself has no end to sights and attractions. Explore one of the many parks, Mendoza Museum of Modern Art, the beautiful Plaza Espana. Just 14 km of town is the historic 1890 Casa de Fader, once home to the famous artist Fernando Fader. The heart of Mendoza is easy to navigate; you can walk or take one of the many affordable taxis around town. Stay at a downtown hotel for easy access, near the Plaza Independencia, a fantastic four blocks teeming with hustle and bustle. Wander down the nearby Sarmiento road, plop down at a café, watch the locals meander by while you sip on 6-peso-espresso.

Like all wine regions, the Mendoza province is best sampled in a private car—which gives you the flexibility and freedom to visit winery after winery. Keep in mind to book ahead well in advance, perhaps even with a professional—many wineries prefer if you arrive on a tour. For the best convenience and bang for your buck, you can fly from Buenos Aires and book a guided tour that will show you around. Wineries are still establishing themselves as an industry in Argentina, so your vineyard tours will likely be informal but with plenty of tastings. Many businesses don’t have the infrastructure or roads to handle too many tourists yet, so it’s best to organize a tour beforehand with a travel agent. Just remember: don’t drink and drive!

Want to sample the best of Mendoza’s Malbecs? Speak with our agents at Willamette Intl Travel for more information and suggestions for your Argentine itinerary. Call us at 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.


My favorite recipe for chimichurri

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

8 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 lemon wedge (juice of)

1 tablespoon diced red onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt



1.       Pulse parsley in processor to chop.
2.      Add remaining ingredients and blend.
3.      Separate sauce into equal parts.
4.      Use half for basting or marinade, and half for table service.

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Filed under Argentina, South America, Travel by Taste

Travel Tips: Bringing Home Wines from your Vacation

You’re outside on the porch of a charming tapas restaurant in La Rioja, enjoying the aromas and sultry flavors of the best tempranillo you’ve ever had. There’s a faint air of melancholy over your head—you will be returning home in tomorrow, and mourn your last drops as they gradually trickle down your throat. If only you could ship bottles home without hassle! Many a traveler has had this very dilemma—but despair not. Willamette Intl Travel offers some tips to avoid weighing your suitcase down or breaking those precious bottles.

–          Pack well: To avoid the risk of breakage, stuff your bottles in a sock and store in a water-tight plastic bag. Smothering with clothes will protect it from shifting during the flight. Make sure the outer shell of the luggage is hard—no duffel bags.

–          Share with your friends: If you have traveling companions, talk them into dividing the bottles among you—but beware! Don’t give your wine away to a fellow oenophile, or you may never get it back!

–          Weigh the bottle: A bottle typically weighs three pounds, so consider this when you are sticking them in your already overstuffed suitcase. There’s also the price: if you bring more than 1 liter, customs tend to require payment of 3% in duty tax.

–          Invest in a wine suitcase: For the frequent traveler/oenophile, consider buying a wine suitcase with a stainless steel shell that protects and withstands extreme temperatures. This can be a considerable investment though, so think before you buy.

–          Check the distributor list: Maybe, just maybe, that perfect blend you found in Mendoza ships to the USA. Do the research, and you won’t have to do the hauling.

–          Avoid wineskins: These containers have some benefits–and might be a great protective container for land travel–but the downside is that they are not resealable. WIT Agent Nancy has had the repetitive experience of wineskins being opened by the TSA and resealed with duct tape! “At least they didn’t drink the wine,” she says dolefully. “There has not been a time this hasn’t happened.”

–          Ship it: laws governing wine shipment differ state by state, but it’s definitely worth it if yours does. Some wineries will even waive shipping charges.

–          DO NOT attempt to stick it in your carry-on: Since 2001, TSA safety regulations prohibit liquids larger than 3.4 oz past airport security checkpoints (unless purchased in duty-free stories beyond). They’ll just confiscate your bottles, and you’ll have to say goodbye then and there!

Good Luck and A Votre Santé!

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Filed under Travel by Taste, Travel Tips