Luxury of wine tasting and touring all at the same time.
I’m in Napa Valley which means I’m definitely doing some wine tasting. Options are to drive, take a tour shuttle or… hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train and roll my way through California wine country, all while relaxing in style. Guess what, I’m choosing the Wine Train! Comfortable chairs, a three course luncheon, wine to enjoy and I don’t have to drive. There is no better option in my opinion for a leisurely afternoon in Napa Valley. Joining me on this part of my 30 Days In SF adventures are my buddies Geoffrey & Daniel who know more about the Napa wine scene than anyone I know. It’ll be the first time on the train for them as well so it will be a brand new adventure for all of us. All aboard the Wine Train I’m ready to choo choo through wine country.
The Wine Train is located directly across from the Westin Verasa Napa Valley Hotel at 1275 McKinstry Street, if you are staying at the Westin like I am then all you have to do is walk across the street to board the train. Once inside the waiting room we realize that even though it’s January we won’t be the only wine lovers on the train. It looks like a full train for sure.
Before we board the train we are lucky enough to be met by the Director of Marketing Kira Devitt who gives us a personal tour of the train cars and a brief history of the 25 year old Napa Valley Wine Train. If anyone should know about the Wine Train and its history it’s Kira, not only is she an employee but she’s also the Granddaughter of the founder of the train and the man who invented Rice a Roni, the San Francisco Treat! We tour the Champagne Dome car which is how I will travel the next time I take the Wine Train, welcome glass of champagne and an amazing view from the second level of the train. We also get shown the kitchens that are on the train. These prepare all the meals in real time for all the guests. Full three course lunches which include house made desserts. You’ve got to be able to work well in tight moving spaces to master these kitchens.
Our private tour over it’s time for the other passengers to board. This particular train package is the Express Lunch which lasts for three hours and means we don’t get off the train. Other options are available and include winery tours by bus but for my first time I just want to enjoy the train. Once boarded you are assigned to either the early or late lunch seating. We are in the early seating and escorted to our assigned table with our own personal waiter. A welcome glass of wine gets the journey started as we begin the adventure.
The first two courses of lunch are served in the dining car and after making our selections we sit back and enjoy the view as we roll through wine country. A creamy Chowder is the Soup du Jour followed by Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin is my lunch. Delicious and cooked perfectly for me. Of course the real star of the menu is the landscape that rolls past as well eat.
As we enjoy our lunch the scenery rolls by. Every now and then our waiter Mark will come over to share some anecdotes and useful facts about the wineries we pass.
When we’ve finished our lunch it’s time to move to the dessert car and those that were in that car move up to the dining car. Here every seat has a view and the view is only enhanced by a glass of wine from a Napa winery of course. A glass of wine some dessert and just relaxing taking in the view. It’s January so of course the vines are bare but they still look fantastic and I can only imagine what it looks like in the full glory of Summer.
The vineyards just keep rolling past and we even roll past a Napa Valley institution Gott’s Roadside which is famous for their burgers. Our attendant even says it’s worth the 45 min waits that people often have to stand for because it’s so popular.
From start to finish our journey is three hours. We’ve seen vineyards, rolled through four towns and gotten a great sense of the Napa Valley area. Geoffrey and Daniel enjoyed it and even got to see some sights they never notice when they drive through on their tasting weekends.
This was just one of many packages and offerings available on the Wine Train. I hear they have evening journeys, Murder Mystery trains and of course winery tours packages as add ons as well. It’s not just a train or a restaurant it’s an experience and one I loved! In fact it far surpassed my expectations. Next time though I’m going for the Champagne Vista Dome.
30 Days In SF Over the course of 30 posts I’m exploring Where to Stay, Where to Eat and Drink and What to Do in San Francisco and the Bay area. I won’t get to everything awesome but I welcome your suggestions and if I don’t get to it on this visit there is always the next time!