From winery to river to altar: an AmaWaterways love story.

Falling in Love with Wine

Jeff and Kristen Patten met in 2010 while throwing strikes on the same bowling league. Kristen was well-traveled: China, England, ocean cruises. Jeff had never been out of the country. Regardless, a spark ignited and, after several months of dating, the couple headed out to California’s Temecula Valley for their first-ever wine tasting excursion at Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyards.

“I wasn’t too thrilled about going. I was more of a beer guy,” admitted Jeff. “I am so glad that Kristen got me to go!”

Amazed at how much they enjoyed the wines and how welcoming the Wilson family and staff were, Jeff and Kristen immediately signed up to become members of the wine club. Little did the head-over-heels couple know they were about to fall in love with something even more spectacular: AmaWaterways’ wine-themed river cruises.

First AmaWaterways Experience

A long-time partner of AmaWaterways, Wilson Creek Winery just happened to be promoting an upcoming Romantic Danube Wine Cruise. Jeff and Kristen were immediately intrigued with the prospect of a romantic getaway and booked the November 2014 cruise hosted by Mick Wilson, whose parents founded the winery.

“We both fell in love with AmaWaterways as soon as we got to the ship,” said Jeff, recalling the first moment they met the attentive crew. Kristen agreed. “It was as if we were being welcomed home.”

In addition to warm, inviting atmosphere on board, Jeff was enamored with the cuisine. “The way the chefs worked to pair the food with the areas in which we were sailing was awesome. I started turning away the menu because I knew whatever the chef recommended would be incredible.”

The One with the Proposal

Not long after they returned home, Jeff and Kristen booked another AmaWaterways Wine Cruise with Wilson Creek on the Enchanting Rhine, but it wasn’t until they scheduled their third cruise, Taste of Bordeaux, that Jeff cooked up a life-altering plot: proposing to Kristen on the river. “With the adventures AmaWaterways has allowed for us to have, I couldn’t think of a better way to continue on our next adventure in life than on an AmaWaterways river cruise.”

Unbeknownst to Kristen and the friend Jeff had invited to join them on board, an engagement ring was hidden in Jeff’s luggage as they boarded the AmaDante in Bordeaux. The nervous fiancé-to-be had no plan; he was simply searching for the perfect spot to ask for Kristen’s hand.

And suddenly, there it was. “On one of our excursions, there was a secluded patio overlooking the vineyards of the Château de Pressac. I asked our friend if she could take our picture, and that’s when I pulled out the ring.”

Kristen was completely taken by surprise. “My heart was racing so fast. When he got down on one knee, I completely lost it. It was truly magical and being surrounded by the beautiful vineyards made the moment even more memorable.”

News traveled quickly to their excursion group, who greeted the newly engaged couple with a resounding cheer as they boarded the bus back to the ship. As if that weren’t enough, following dinner that evening, the couple was serenaded by accordion, presented with a special dessert and congratulated personally by two crew members they had met on previous cruises. “The crew really helped to make that day extra special,” reminisced Jeff.

Cheers to the Happy Couple

“A Wine Cruise in Bordeaux might just be one of the most romantic places to get engaged – and to toast your life together with Bordeaux wines,” said Liz Barrett, AmaWaterways’ Manager of Sales & Business Development, Wine Cruises. “I’m thrilled that Jeff and Kristen have become a part of our AmaWaterways family through our wonderful partnership with Wilson Creek Winery.”

Wedding bells rang on September 29, 2018, at Wilson Creek Winery, where the couple was first introduced to river cruising. “We are both so glad that we found Wilson Creek and that they helped us find AmaWaterways,” concluded Jeff, who is looking forward to the couple’s next sailing aboard AmaMagna in October 2020. “AmaWaterways has added so much adventure into our lives and we look forward to celebrating our anniversary on board for years to come!”

Toast to new adventures in the French wine capital as you enjoy our Taste of Bordeaux cruise.


Hero Image Photo Credit: Chrysti Erman

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