Napa Valley Wine Train With Gourmet Lunch Wine Tasting And Vineyard Tours
Combine refined wine tasting with a stylish rail journey on this 5-hour Napa Valley wine tour. Sit back and relax on board the historic wine train, admiring the passing rural Californian scenery through large viewing windows.
Head to the elegant dining car to soak up panoramic vineyard views alongside a freshly prepared three-course gourmet lunch. Tantalize the taste buds further with guided tours and tasting sessions at one or two Napa wineries along the way.
The Napa Valley Wine Train passes through St. Helena, Oakville, Rutherford, and Yountville on this linear journey, with coach transfers provided for the return trip.
What Other Napa Deals Can I Get With The Wine Pass
Two for one cave tours, discounted VIP tours, extra pours all part of the Wine Pass.
Napa Wine Train deals, including the Castello di Amorosa excursion and the one that stops at four different wineries. And yes, lunch and dinner excursion are also part of the discount on the Wine Pass.
Barrel tasting and private tours, two for one.
Hidden gems when you grow tired of the crowds at the ultra popular wineries dive deep and hit the boutiques where youll get private tastings or small group experiences, all on the Wine Pass.
Group Discounts: Groups of 8 or more are often turned away at wineries and sometimes charged more, but I know the wineries that not only welcome big groups but honor the discounts as well. Need help? Just ask!
Hotel Deals: Get additional discounts on some of my favorite hotels in Napa, including River Terrace Inn, the Westin Verasa, and Meritage Resort.
Bike rentals, hot air balloon rides, mud baths, all on the Wine Pass.
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More Details On The Napa Valley Wine Train
The Napa Valley Wine Train is an actual train that takes you on a tour of up to three different wineries in Napa Valley. There are different options, but the tour we did included meals and private group tastings to each of the wineries we visited. When I say private group tastings, I mean everyone on the train sticks together and has the tasting as a group. This was a really fun way to meet people and make friends with the people youre drinking wine with all day!
The rails that the wine train uses were built back in 1864 and were originally owned by Samuel Brannan and used to transport guests to his spa resort. Later on, he needed to sell and the railroad became property of California Pacific Railroad. Fast forward to 1984 the railroad was no longer as important as it once was, so the state of California wanted to sell the property to at least make a profit on that.
However, Napa Valley residents didnt want to see the railroad abandoned. In 1987, Vincent DeDomenico, the inventor of Rice-A-Roni, invested in Napa Valley Wine Train Inc. and they were able to buy the whole operation from California Pacific Railroad. The first passenger trip was taken in 1989 and has been running ever since.
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The Train Journeys To The North Pole During Winter
During the winter holiday season, the Wine Train transforms into the Santa Train, welcoming kids of all ages to enjoy games, singing, and live entertainment as it makes its way north to the North Pole. This interactive musical journey is complete with hot cocoa, freshly-baked cookies, and, of course, Santa himself, and is surely a treat for the whole family.
Is The Napa Valley Wine Train Worth It
If you havent heard of the Napa Valley Wine Train, its essentially a train that takes you around Napa Valley, California. The winery tours also include stops at 1-3 different wineries. It doesnt get much better than that, does it? I bought Austin tickets to the wine train for Christmas back in 2018, but I never wrote about it! Keep reading to hear about what our experience was and if I would recommend the Napa Valley Wine Train going forward!
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Is The Priority Wine Pass Worth It
You decide. If you get the pass with my discount link you pay $39.99 for the two of you. Most people go to 4 to 5 wineries in a day. Here are some standard fees:
Sterling and the Tram Ride: $35 per person
Charles Krug: $45 per person
Beringer: $25 per person
Grgich Hills: $40 per person
V. Sattui : $20 per person
That means a couple will spend $330 in tasting fees! But if you have the wine pass you pay half actually less than half because Grgigh Hills, an essential stop, lets wine pass members taste 2 for $25 . That drops your total winery fee down to $150. Add in the cost of the pass and youre still $140 ahead. Thats not chump change, thats dinner!
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What Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Napa Valley
California is known for having a mild, Mediterranean climate all year long. No matter what season you schedule your trip, you are sure to have a great time. That being said, there are some times of the year when visiting Napa Valley is more popular.
Harvest season is the peak time for tourists. The vineyard harvests run from August to October. This period is a great time to see the vineyard staff hard at work. These are some of the warmest months and have the longest periods of daylight. But dont forget that August is the wettest month for Napa Valley, so be sure to check the weather and pack an umbrella.
In addition to the vineyards, Napa Valley is known for its beautiful views and landscape. Springtime is the second-best time to visit when the hills are bursting with lush green and flowers. The weather will be a bit chillier, with daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Visitors should dress in layers and pack a jacket.
If you are looking to visit Napa Valley on a budget, you should visit during the winter months . This time is a great way to experience Napa Valley without the crowds of tourists. During this time, wineries, tours, and hotels are the cheapest.
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This Is What It’s Like To Spend A Day On The Napa Valley Wine Train
Reviews for the Napa Valley Wine Train are quite favorable from wine enthusiasts, and this is what to expect on your ride through wine country.
Passengers on Napa’s Wine Train dine in a first-rate restaurant, see the characteristic landscape, and tour vineyards in one afternoon. Nostalgic visitors to wine country will love how the company has refinished 1951 Pullman train cars. It’s a chance to travel back in time for a day and imagine Napa as it was before becoming a world-famous wine producer. Both wine and train enthusiasts will get a huge kick out of the experience. A day on the wine train is a way to kick back, relax, and get to know Napa at its best.
All The Food On The Napa Valley Wine Train Is Freshly Prepared In A Specially Fitted Kitchen Car
The kitchen is adjoining the dining cars, and all the ingredients are of the highest quality, humanely raised, hormone free meats and fresh, line-caught fish. The whole experience is reminiscent of a by-gone era of travel, with impeccably trained and attentive waitstaff and first class food. Julie and I decided wed each order something different, so we could sample a bit of everything. We also shared the Napa Valley flight of wine which included a sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon, to go with our entrees. The first course, was a choice of the baby lettuce salad with candied walnuts, and smoked goat cheese or the soup du jour. The soup that day was a delicious tomato bisque with house made croutons. Julie and I switched the soup and salad halfway, so we were each able to enjoy a bit of both.
Cream of tomato soup with house made croutons.
Entree choices include beef, pork, chicken, fish as well as a vegetarian dish. I chose the Roasted Beef Tenderloin on cambozola toast with sautéed vegetables, which was absolutely fantastic! Julie opted for the Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Pork Medallion on black truffle hash browns with roasted vegetables in a chardonnay-mustard reduction. Each dish came out cooked exactly to our specifications and hot. The beef was cooked to perfection, with a delicious cabernet reduction, and the cambozola toast was divine!
Roasted beef tenderloin with a cabernet reduction and cambozola toast.
Chocolate Tiramisu Truffle.
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What You Need To Know About The Napa Valley Wine Train
The Wine Train makes four to six trips weekly, but the schedule varies by season. Cost varies by type of trip, and whether you have a meal. You can get their current times and prices on their website. Reservations are required.
You will spend two to three hours on the train, but allow extra time to get there and get on board before departure time. The station is at 1275 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA, not far from the Oxbow Market.
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Can You Experience Napa Valley Without A Tour
Absolutely! You dont have to go on a tour to visit Napa Valley. However, there are some pros and cons to going it alone. The best thing about creating your itinerary is that you get to see the exact locations you want. You dont have to stick to the 4 or 5 wineries on the tour itinerary. This option is great if you already have a few favorite venues.
While you can create your own wine road trip, there is a risk of impaired driving. Even with spitting out the wine during a tasting, you can still get alcohol in your bloodstream from what is absorbed in your mouth or swallowed over multiple tastings. With a tour, you will have a designated driver.
The other concern is the cost. Wine tasting fees typically range from $20-$40 per person per winery. These tasting fees can add up quickly and easily be equal to the cost of a tour.
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Napa Valley Wine Train Options
The Napa Valley Wine Train isnt cheap. A train trip alone is the least expensive way to go. Youll pay more for a meal, and theres an extra charge for the winery tours offered with the lunch trips.
For a dinner trip in the Vista Dome Car, youll spend as much as you might in a fancy San Francisco restaurant. And that doesnt include beverages, service charges, and tips. For the same price, you could see the scenery on a drive up Highway 29 and back to Napa on Silverado Trail, enjoy a tasting and food pairing at Signorello Vineyards and dine like a king at one of the areas top-end restaurants.
The Wine Train offers a variety of lunch and dinner options. The Pullman cars seat 130 people at a time, with two seatings on the three-hour trip. If you choose this option for an afternoon trip, its best to get the later seating so you can watch the scenery before the sun sets and eat on the way back.
Other special trips, winemaker dinners, murder mystery trips, full-moon trips, and seasonal excursions are available.
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How Our Experience Was
Austin and I did the Legacy Tour which was a total of six hours and took us to three different wineries. We arrived at the train station around 10am and boarded the train shortly thereafter. We were greeted with some sparkling wine and a tasty treat. The train was beautiful. It had a vintage feel to it with large windows so we could see all of the rolling hills and vineyards as we passed.
The wineries we were supposed to go to were Mondavi, Charles Krug, and V. Sattui. However, something was going on with Charles Krug and we couldnt stop there, so they took us to Beringer instead. All three wineries were incredible. They gave us a short tour, then a tasting, and then gave us time to either walk around the property or decide which wines we were going to buy to take home with us.
Around lunch time, we had the choice of a couple different options on board. Austin and I each got a different meal, but both were fantastic. We were amazed that food that good could be made on board a train! We were also served dessert on our way back to the train station after the third winery tour.
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Napa Valley Wine Train Locomotive Roster
·#52 GE 65-tonner: Originally owned by the U.S. Navy.
·#70 MLW FPA-4: Originally owned by the Canadian National and later VIA Rail.
·#71 MLW FPA-4: Originally owned by the Canadian National and later VIA Rail.
·#72 MLW FPA-4: Originally owned by the Canadian National and later VIA Rail.
·#73 MLW FPA-4: Originally owned by the Canadian National and later VIA Rail.
Today, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers everything from dinners in dome cars and murder mystery specials to wine tours of the local area.
Along with the trains former Milwaukee Road dome car it also features diner and lounge cars for the journey.
In total, the railroads trains are typically nine cars in length and totally restored, featuring a splendid custom livery of green, red, and gold.
All in all, with regal interior designs using mahogany and other fine materials a trip aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train is certainly a unique, memorable, and lasting experience not afforded by most other tourist trains.
To learn more about everything the Napa Valley Wine Train has to offer please to visit their website .
There you can find out when their trains operate, pricing for both standard excursions as well as specials, how to reach the railroad.
Additionally, they provide information about taking local winery tours, and how to take the train for weddings and large group charters.
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Wine Tasting Etiquette What To Wear And Where To Spit
Bay Area Answers Fun Fact: Enotourism is the proper name to describe tourism for the purpose of tasting, consuming, or purchasing wine.
When visiting Napa Valley wineries, there are a few basic rules of etiquette that you should follow.
First, visiting Napa Valley is intended to be an elegant experience. You will be visiting some fine establishments, so you want to dress the part. Its frowned upon to show up dressed as a tourist in swim trunks and flip flops. Tour guests should dress up a little. Dresses, slacks, dark washed jeans, and nice shirts or polos are ideal. Be sure also to wear comfortable shoes as you may do a little walking during your tour.
The purpose of wine tasting is to enjoy the scents and taste of the wine. Tasting is not the time to overindulge. Guests who cant control their behavior or consumption may be asked to leave the winery. This disruption not only ruins your experience but also for your fellow tour companions.
How do you taste dozens of wines without getting intoxicated? You spit it out. Most people consider spitting disgusting and rude behavior. When attending a wine tasting, this is not only acceptable but is encouraged. The reason for this is that as you drink, you lose your ability to taste and enjoy the wine properly. Most wineries supply a special bucket or container for spitting wine into. If you dont know where to find it, just ask.
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River Rails & Wine Trails
Enjoy winery tours along the beautiful Napa Valley wine trails, including Napas Silverado trail, lined with 36 wineries and breathtaking vineyards.
Day 13:00 Check-in River Terrace Inn
Day 210:00 4:00 Beau Tours winery tour12:30 Picnic lunch
10:30-4:30 Gourmet Lunch experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train2:30 Evening Explore Napa4:30 Depart Napa
*Wine and drinks aboard Wine Train are not included. Tasting fees are not included. A 2 night minimum applies. Package is based on 2 adults. All package attendees must be 21 years of age to participate in wine tasting tours and activities.
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Dining Experience : $235
The Napa Valley Wine Train offers a couple different dining options, the first bring the Vista Dome. The Vista Dome train is unique in that the sides are almost entirely glass to give you the most incredible views of Napa Valley. The dining experiences are different from the winery tours in that youre not actually stopping at any wineries.
The lunch tours include a 3 hour train ride and the dinner tours are 2 hours total. They each come with a multiple-course, gourmet meal.
You can find more info on the Vista Dome here!
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Is The Wine Train Worth It
I think it depends on which tour/dining experience you choose. As I mentioned this above, if youre looking for a full day tour, Id recommend the Legacy Tour or the Estate Tour. I LOVED Castello Di Amorosa, but I just cant justify paying around $350 per person to go there when you can go there for a tasting on your own and have an incredible time!
I will say, though, the Legacy Tour was worth it. We got to try out different wineries that wed never heard of, we had a delicious meal, and we got to ride on the historic railroad. Best of all we could drink as much wine as we wanted, because we didnt have to worry about transportation between wineries!
As for the dining experiences, I feel like thats a personal decision. Both the lunch and dinner options make for one expensive meal, but its the experience that can make it worth it for some people.
I hope this article was helpful for you and Id love to know if youve been on the Napa Valley Wine Train, or if youre planning to go. It was such a memorable experience for us and I know it will be for you, too!