Whether you’re a train fan, a wine fan, a foodie or a combination of those The Wine Train is sure to meet and exceed your expectations.
Housed in an unassuming station in Napa Valley, The Napa Valley Wine Train provides a culinary experience unparalleled by any other and fully customizable to your taste. The train is beautifully restored and tastefully appointed and offers all of the comforts of a restaurant plus the addition of spectacular views.
The Wine Train is a three hour, 36-mile round trip ride with a meal of your choice (lunch or dinner) and spectacular views of the vineyards of Napa. The tracks were laid in the 1800’s as a way of getting to Calistoga by rail. While the Calistoga leg of the tracks no longer exist, the ride goes from downtown Napa north to St. Helena and then back. Diners are afforded a slow, chef-prepared meal, excellent wine list, attentive service and the opportunity to check out the train between dinner and dessert.
Prior to boarding guests check in and can stroll through the gift shop, sit in the plush waiting area, or speak with staff who are experts in their knowledge of the area. Boarding is quick and painless after a welcome speech, and then diners are off to enjoy an experience like no other.
Meals On Wheels
Chef Kelly MacDonald oversees a menu with high end, fresh ingredients that complements the wine list. Diners choose an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert early in the ride and then have nothing else to think about for the remainder of the trip except the views. The staff is well-trained, and highly attuned to food allergies. As with any dining experience, it is courteous to mention allergies upon booking in order to allow the staff to best accommodate you.
The menu changes a few times a year to highlight the wines and seasons and offers a good selection of seafood, red meat and poultry and a vegetarian option. All food is expertly prepared in one of the on board kitchens – make sure to check these out when going for a walk to check out the rest of the train.
There are two dining cars, a pullman and vista dome. The vista dome is the more costly of the two experiences and well worth the price. No matter which selection you make, you’ve made the right one.
Lunch and dinner are available on the train with lunch options ranging from bbq to gourmet. For an unforgettable honeymoon, milestone, or proposal, book the vista dome dinner.
Customizing Your Experience
Prior to booking, you have a few choices to make. Besides dinner and lunch options, there are options within each to customize your meal experience from more casual to fine dining. Additionally, there are winery tours that can be booked. The winery tours often include private tours at times when the vineyards are closed to the public. You can learn more about these on the Wine Train website to select the best experience for you – be it Chardonnays, sparkling, or lesser known wines.
Five Tips To Maximize Your Trip On The Wine Train
- Consider the amount of daylight during your trip and book accordingly. If it’s winter and getting dark earlier, book the gourmet lunch rather than a dinner in order to get the best views. Even in spring, the way back is often during twilight and nightfall.
- See the train. So many people get comfortable and don’t walk around and check things out – you will regret this. Get up, walk around. And talk to the staff – the staff of the Wine Train loves the train and is happy to share favorite things – be it views, the kitchen, or the view off the back of the train.
- Try something new. Ask your server about about pairings, newer wines, and suggestions based on what you like and don’t like. Being able to name a few wines or wine qualities you enjoy will be helpful. This way you can walk away with a new appreciation for something other than your go to wine.
- Leave the little ones at home. Children are likely to not enjoy this experience. It is a long ride, a slow meal, and more of an adult activity. If you don’t have a sitter or other arrangements, consider the barbeque lunch for a far more casual experience.
- Splurge! This is a vacation activity that should include a little wiggle room in your trip budget. Consider it a full experience, not just a meal or a tour, and take advantage of all the Wine Train has to offer.
There is no other experience in Napa like The Wine Train. Be sure to book your experience well in advance and be prepared for an unforgettable ride through the vineyards.
1 CommentLeave a comment
This will be on my bucket list