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New American Empress season highlights Pacific Northwest wines

New American Empress season highlights Pacific Northwest wines
The American Queen Steamboat Co.'s 223-passenger American Empress is beginning its second season of nine-day voyages in the Pacific Northwest, featuring exclusive winery tours and tastings.

In addition to a number of included tours, American Empress offers premium (extra charge) excursions themed around wine.

'Wine & Spirits on Red Mountain' visits the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center, named for the father of Washington wine; Kiona Vineyards, where a tasting room gives panoramic views of the Yakima Valley and estate vineyard; and Hedges Family Estate, where participants tour the expansive estate winery and sample the wines produced on site. The tour continues to Black Heron Spirits, a quirky distillery where tastes of specialty whisky and spirits will be provided.

'From Maryhill Museum to the Vineyard' visits Maryhill Museum for an exclusive tasting of the artisanal wines of the Pacific Northwest. Participants can sample a variety of wines on the veranda with views of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood.

And the premium tour 'The Beauty and Bounty of the Pacific Northwest' features Mount Hood Winery, a 'wine to bottle' full production facility in Oregon. The estate's pinot gris, pinot noir and riesling grapes thrive in Mount Hood's rich volcanic soils and the climate of the Hood River Valley.

'Wine Walk in Spokane' offers a walk with tastings during a post-cruise stay in the eastern Washington city.

Included in the American Empress fare as part of the 'Hop-On, Hop-Off' excursions at every port is a visit to Sunshine Mill Winery in The Dalles, Oregon.  

In addition, each itinerary includes wine by the glass, on a rotating basis, from such estates as Willamette Valley Vineyards, Eola Hills, Joe Dobbes Family Estate, Fox Farm, Anelare and Maryhill Winery.    

Fares start at $3,795, double occupancy, encompassing a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, tours, wine and beer with dinner, and other amenities.