The experience of wine is like nothing else. The enjoyment starts well before anything is consumed. It’s in the discovery of regions and varietals, learning which vintages exceed your expectations and whether you prefer a cool climate or warm climate. For many of us, wine is a cerebral experience. But sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the work. This is especially true when it comes to pairing wine and food. While there are plenty of restaurants that combine good food and wine, today we’re going to look at one of the coolest ways to spoil yourself when it comes to wine: The Napa Valley Wine Train.
The Napa Valley Wine Train
The train is a restaurant on wheels. It is gorgeously appointed and takes diners on a 36 mile round trip from Napa to St. Helena past several vineyards of varying sizes. Here’s everything you need to know.
Options: Dining & Tours
Looking to do a wine lunch? Want to splurge? The Napa Valley Wine Train offers multiple options to meet your needs --- and it’s more than just dinner!
Gourmet Express. Enjoy a multi-course gourmet and a glass of wine in the train’s refurbished 19-15-1917 Pullman Cars. Diners enjoy a welcome drink in the 1915 Pullman lounge car followed by dinner in a 1915 or 1917 Pullman dining car. The experience is 3 hours and starts at $146/diner.
Vista Dome. Perfect for a special occasion, reserve your spot in the lush 1952 domed Pullman dining car. You’ll have a welcome glass of sparkling wine upon boarding and enjoy a multi-course gourmet meal. The ride lasts 3 hours and starts at $221/diner.
Quattro Vino Tours. For a little over a year, guests have been raving about the newest addition to the Napa Valley Wine Train. This series celebrates Napa with a sparkling wine tasting, four-course Napa Valley-style meal planned by executive chef Donald Young, and then tastings at three of Napa’s iconic wineries.
Guests choose from three different tours.
The Legacy Tour includes a six hour train tour of Napa Valley, tastings at three family-run winemaking locations, and 4-course Napa style meal. Tickets start at $329/guest. The day is a perfect way to enjoy Napa by starting with a light breakfast and glass of bubbly before disembarking from the train at the Robert Mondavi Winery for a private tour and tasting. After, guests get back on the train to enjoy their choice of lunch while they head to for private tour and tasting at Charles Krug. Following this guests enjoy a savory cookie crisp and infused water while taking in the sights on the way to Sattui Winery. After this, the journey concludes with a ride back while enjoying a dessert course and cheese course.
The Collective Tour includes the same meal and tour setup but has a different feel. On this tour, guests will visit a cave, check out a whimsical winery and learn winemaking at a certified Napa Green winery.
The Estate Tour is a visual pleasure so be sure to charge your good camera and take lots of pictures. Board the train for a welcome glass of sparkling wine and light gourmet breakfast. The first tour and tasting are at Domaine Chandon. Guests will next travel to Hall Wines, enjoying soup and salad with the view. The final destination is Inglenook with dinner en route. After Inglenook board the train and look at everyone’s pictures while eating dessert.
The wine train also offers a variety of special events.
Above & Beyond
As a frequent traveler in and around various wine regions, I can attest to the following: this is one of the best experiences you can have in wine country. And considering that most wine countries know how to be welcoming, that’s saying a lot. The staff at The Napa Valley Wine Train are beyond accomodating. They are responsive and do what they can to ensure the most exceptional visit to each diner.
Servers are attentive without being overbearing. They are also very aware of the danger of food allergies and take impeccable notes. Our party had two people with serious food allergies and we were impressed with our Daniel’s diligence.
What To Expect
Everything will be taken care of for you and the experience runs on time. There is the obligatory picture as you board the train but other than that you won’t feel like a tourist. The evening is incredibly personal.
You’ll find ample parking at the station. Check in is quick and easy and there is a cute shop where you can get any number of wine country related merchandise from books and tools to a souvenir magnet. There is a lock bridge so this is the perfect spot for taking your relationship to the next level.
The train has a very strict no cancellation policy that is enforced in order to keep things fair and allow everyone who wants one to book a table in a reasonable amount of time. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the policy, which is shared when making a reservation.
If you’re thinking about a trip to Napa Valley in the future, be sure to make a reservation for lunch, dinner or one of the new Quattro tours. You will walk away even more in love with wine.