European River Cruise


Explore Bordeaux Wines and Virginia Wines

Hosted by Stephen Mackey of Notaviva Vineyards

Sailing November 18, 2016

Bookings and additional information available on the Wine and Waterways web site here.


Notaviva Vineyards is proud to announce that we have been selected by the prestigious AmaWaterways cruise line to host "Taste of Bordeaux," their wine themed river cruise through the incredible Bordeaux region of France in November 2016. In addition to the AmaWaterways' exciting itinerary, Notaviva's wine composer Stephen Mackey has developed a series of onboard wine and music experiences designed to explore influence of music upon the sensory perception of wine.

1) ONBOARD WINE TASTING - "Wines of Bordeaux" Host Stephen Mackey leads a discussion of the Bordeaux wine region, including tastings of several wines. Enjoyed with Notaviva Vineyards "Ode to Joy" Meritage inspired by Beethoven's 9th symphony and "Excelsis" Petit Verdot.

2) ONBOARD WINE LECTURE #1 - "Wine and Music Pairing Experience" -- Led by host Stephen Mackey, guests will enjoy two blind tastings of Virginia wines, accompanied by diverse music playlists and and engaging, interactive evaluation of how various musical genres accompany different wine styles. Includes discussion on the science of cognitive neurology and emotional receptors as they relate to the sensory perception of wine.

3) ONBOARD WINE LECTURE #2 - "Introduction to Music Theory" -- Enjoy a carefully chosen selection of Virginia and French wines while host Stephen Mackey analyzes works from Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saens and others while explaining the core technical elements of Western music such as melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, dynamics, form and tone color. Each composer's work will be paired with an appropriate wine, and there will be fun quizzes and prizes!

4) PAIRED WINE DINNER - "Ottantotto" barrel-fermented Viognier, "Excelsis" (Back) Petit Verdot, "Ode to Joy" (Beethoven) Meritage

5) ONBOARD WINE LECTURE #3 - Wine and Music trivia challenge - compete against your fellow passengers and win exciting prizes!

Travel Gift Bonus

As an additional incentive for you to book through our local travel agency Wine and Waterways, we are offering:

  • Gift certificate for twelve FREE tastings for you and your friends to visit the Notaviva Vineyards tasting room
  • This custom branded carry-on bag for you to bring on your trip


Notaviva Vineyards wine and music cruise tote bag

You are helping to support local Loudoun business when you book through Wine and Waterways! Gift bonus is one-per-cabin based on a double-occupancy cabin purchase and will be delivered via US mail upon receipt of final payment. Additional bags may be purchased by request!

Bookings and additional information available on the Wine and Waterways web site here.


You’ll discover stately chateaux, abundant vineyards and stunning scenery as you sail along the Garonne River and its surrounding estuaries, calling upon port cities like Cadillac, Bourg and Libourne. Enjoy tastings of some of the region’s most distinguished wines and visit notable sights.

November 18, 2016 EMBARKATION
Welcome to Bordeaux, where you’ll board your luxurious river cruise. Meet your fellow passengers this evening during a delectable Welcome Dinner.
November 19, 2016 CADILLAC
Arrive this afternoon in Cadillac, a region renowned for its sensational white wines. You have your choice of two tours today. The first option is a visit to the Sauternes wine region, where you’ll taste the highly sought-after sweet wines made here. As an alternative, you can choose to see the historic Roquetaillade Castle, a fortress which was initially built in the 10th century by Charlemagne as his army advanced toward the Pyrenees.
November 20, 2016 PAUILLAC
Today, you will enjoy a tour of the lovely village town on the Left Bank of the Gironde estuary known as Pauillac. Situated in the famed Médoc AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée, a government controlled destination of origin which signifies where grapes are grown), Pauillac’s gravelly soils are renowned for producing some of the world’s finest Bordeaux wines – especially those made from the Merlot grape variety. You’ll be able to dabble in local blends this afternoon at an authentic Médoc wine tasting. Return to the ship for a wonderful dinner, and then spend the evening as you please – we will be docked in Pauillac overnight.
November 21, 2016 PAUILLAC - BLAYE - BOURG
Take in the riverside scenery this morning as we make our way from Pauillac to Blaye. North of Bordeaux, this small town is best known for its red wine and historic significance. Today, you’ll be able to enjoy an excursion to the city’s 17th century citadel – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – which was built by famous military engineer Major Vaubon. From the top of this famous fortress, you can admire fantastic views of the impressive Gironde estuary. Return to the ship for a delicious lunch and prepare for an afternoon in Bourg. Ideally situated at the confluence of the Dordogne and Garonne, this historic village still lives inside medieval walls. Built during Roman times and later fortified by the English, it is filled with rich architectural tradition. Here, you’ll be able to see the home of legendary French corsair, Jean Bart. The ship will remain overnight in Bourg.
November 22, 2016 BOURG - LIBOURNE
This afternoon, you’ll arrive in the wine-making capital, Libourne. Two of Bordeaux’s most elite wine regions are very close by – St. Émilion and Pomerol. First, you will have the unique opportunity to savor exquisite blends during a tasting at a cave in St. Émilion, an old historic village known for its picturesque architecture and historic vineyards that were first introduced to the land by the Romans. Afterwards, enjoy a panoramic tour of the celebrated landscapes in Pomerol. The ship moors overnight in Libourne.
November 23, 2016 LIBOURNE - CUBZAC - BORDEAUX
Start your adventure today with a tour of the magnificent Château D’Montaigne, a stunning 14th century castle which was the family residence of the philosopher, Michel de Montaigne. As an alternative you can visit a well-preserved local bastide town which was fortified during medieval times. We also offer an optional tour for guests to explore the flavors of Bergerac, a wine-growing region in the southern part of the Dordogne department that is home to 13 AOCs. Return to the ship for lunch as we cruise to Cubzac. This old town near the Dordogne once served as a watchtower during the Middle Ages and contains many historic treasures. While here, you’ll taste wines from the Côtes de Bourg region. We sail to Bordeaux this evening where we will dock and indulge in a spectacular Farewell Dinner with your Captain. Later on, take in the brightly-lit sights on an illuminations cruise of this magical city.
November 24, 2016 BORDEAUX
Today you’ll see the elegant port city of Bordeaux on foot. The breathtaking capital of the wine world is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, with over 360 historic monuments within its borders, it is also classified as a “City of Art and History.” You’ll have an opportunity to experience much of the rich culture and architecture here, including a tasting at the wine museum. An optional tour will also be available for those who wish to see Cognac, a place best-known for its unique, double-distilled spirit and six prominent AOCs. Tonight, the ship will stay in Bordeaux.
Bookings and additional information available on the Wine and Waterways web site here.

About Stephen

Stephen Mackey is the co-founder and wine composer at Notaviva Vineyards, a Virginia farm winery located about one hour west of Washington, D.C. in scenic Loudoun County. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, he embarked upon a career in live audio engineering. Spending most of the 1990’s touring the world with artists such as Bon Jovi, Matchbox20, Amy Grant, Julio Iglesias, Midnight Oil and Tanya Tucker, Stephen visited over forty countries on six continents before leaving professional audio for subsequent careers in online marketing, digital media business development and executive technology management. Exposure to diverse cultures, cuisines, wines and music around the globe has greatly influenced the Notaviva brand identity, which prides itself as being the only winery in the world that pairs wine with music.

Stephen and his wife Shannon founded Notaviva in 2003, after they purchased an abandoned cattle farm on a leap of faith. With neither agricultural nor winemaking experience, their shared vision for crafting fine wines and memorable customer experiences has defined the mission for the winery, which is based on their core value of authenticity. Filmed by HGTV, the construction of the expansive handcrafted timber frame tasting room, which doubles as the family’s home, was featured in the reality television series “Dream House.” Though originally aired in 2008, the series has been syndicated to the DIY network and continues to be enjoyed both on television and the Internet. Building a custom home with thousands of hours of sweat equity, in front of television cameras while working two full-time professional careers, and Shannon pregnant with their second of three boys, the Mackeys were introduced to the world as a loving, determined couple ready to face the challenges of the wine industry to see their dream come to fruition.

When the tasting room opened in 2008, both Notaviva’s wines and brand identity were immediately recognized for their quality, uniqueness and approachability. Producing several styles of wines for their diverse demographic of patrons, Stephen has sought to craft wines in a minimalistic approach. By preferring to focus on sound viticultural techniques and healthy, clean fermentations, Notaviva’s wines have consistently earned medals in regional, national and International competitions. With two gold medals in the renowned 2013 Indianapolis International Wine Competition and subsequent ratings in Wine Enthusiast magazine, Notaviva’s wines have proven themselves amongst world-class talent.

At ease with visitors from all walks of life, from tradesmen to Fortune 100 CEOs, and from rock stars to great-grandmothers, Stephen’s quick wit, intellect and personality always make guests feel right at home. Whether recounting roadie stories, explaining organic chemistry, discussing the sensory perception of wine or chatting about Beethoven, his passion for Notaviva, love of his family and zest for life are contagious.