As soon as my bags landed in Northern California, I knew I had to give Napa Valley wine country a visit. Being a bit of a self-indulgent whino, it would be blasphemous not to. Even better than just taking a drive and enjoying the scenic views to the area, I was also partaking in a classic train ride along the Napa Valley Wine Train!
The Napa Valley Wine Train provides a three-hour 36 round-trip journey that starts from the train station in the historic town of Napa all the way through the valleys and hills to the village of St. Helena and back. Abroad, the guests can enjoy lunch or dinner inside fully restored cars from as far back as 1915.
Besides having a multi-course meal, we also have the option of disembarking for a winery visit at one of the nearby vineyards along the railroad track. When I heard about this experience, I grabbed my older sister and asked her to be my plus one. Luckily, she gave an enthusiastic yes!
We arrived on a bright and early Saturday morning. A little bit bleary-eyed despite the hour drive, I wondered if the train was going to be packed of passengers. Lo’ and behold, it was. My sister gleefully snapped pictures while exclaiming how is it that so many people are ready to get drunk at 10 am? I shrugged and said we were doing the same thing!
As soon as we arrived, we were treated to a private tour of the cars before the rest of the passengers embarked. Besides the regular dining cars that have been fully restored to it’s pre-1920s glory, we were able to visit the kitchen where all the food was prepared locally.
I really liked the lounge cars where every single soft suede sofa seat is swiveled towards the windows for optimal scenery enjoyment. It felt totally nostalgic and reminded me of the quaint old days when trains were considered luxurious and it was actually fun to relax and take in the great Native American land.
Besides the dining cars and lounge cars, we also had the fancy Vista Dome car where diners can enjoy lunch or dinner while in a special elevated observatory – basically dining in style and extra privately. The Vista Dome dining car has been refurbished using Honduran Mahogany paneling and brass accents. There is an even extra special menu provided by Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald. Oo la la.
After the tour, we were led into a regular dining car to begin our meal – that started with a complimentary tasting of wine. I ordered the pumpkin squash soup to start with. It was creamy smooth and thick and did it’s job of reminding me that Autumn was here. As my main, I went with the pan-seared bacon wrapped pork medallion while our dining mates – a lovely couple from Texas went with the roast beef tenderloin.
After the meal, it was ready for us to disembark for our winery tour at Grginch Hills – a separate post.
Lovely Napa Valley
After a well informative tour of the winery, we were a bit toasted to say the least and gladly climbed onboard to get dessert and digest all of our libations. For dessert, we both chose the creme brûlée – a subtly sweet choice and enjoyed the scenic rolling hills and valleys in our window. The sun was high overhead which brought out the colors of the fall foliage.
My sister looking quite merry with her glass of wine and creme brûlée.
After getting back to the train station, we disembarked and could hardly move. I hate to say it but I couldn’t believe I was actually all “wine-ed” out. I never thought that possible! We strolled and explored the busy corners of Napa Valley town and called it a day.
The Napa Valley Wine Train is definitely a fun and luxurious experience. It is definitely not cheap and prices go up if you decide to do a winery tour while on the trip. I would consider it a once in a lifetime experience and most definitely during a special event like a milestone birthday or anniversary. Most of the passengers were couples or groups of couples on holiday and/or celebrating a momentous occasion.
Read about the stop at the Grgich Hills Winery Estate as one of the stops on the wine train!
Many thanks to the Napa Valley Wine Train for this magical opportunity. As always, no fakin’ in the makin’ – all thoughts and opinions are mine.