On any given day throughout the year, a lunch train takes off on a three hour journey across the valley. It features one of a kind gourmet dining with fresh California cuisine. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a polished and personalized adventure with vintage train cars that have been restored into modern luxury. Its special event trains pepper the calendar’s of fortunate community members and visitors, and its dinners offer an evening unlike any other. If you thought it was a mode of transportation, you’d be missing out on this incredible experience.
In October of last year I had the privilege of doing a podcast with Scott Goldie, the Co-Owner, to discuss the success he has had since bringing the original train into modern elegance. What started out as a small regional offering has grown into an immensely popular must-see piece of Napa Valley. Scott and his partner refurbished old train cars, purchased a few new ones, and developed over 20 partnerships with local wineries to make the train what it is today. In the podcast, Scott mentions plans for an upcoming train station hotel – that will be just the fourth one in the country – and ideas for the Rutherford Station that will make you excited for things to come.
The attraction has garnered so much esteem that it has been featured in Food and Wine, Travel & Leisure, on Forbes.com, and even in a story in Harper’s Bazaar highlighting its path through America’s top vineyards in Napa Valley. While the Winery Tours are incredibly popular, they’re not the only ones worth mentioning. The Wine Train in Napa Valley has a number of stops you won’t want to miss.
Exquisite Tours on the Napa Valley Wine Train
The Vista Dome tour is quintessential Napa Valley. With sweeping views of the landscape, you’ll feel like you’re traveling amongst nature from the most luxurious train car available, the Champagne Vista Dome. The curved glass windows transport you through Napa sunsets at twilight or engulf you in warm and bright sunlight during the lunch hour.
This particular adventure is all about the food and sights. You’re welcomed aboard the 1952 Pullman full dome railcar with a glass of delicate sparkling wine. Executive Chef Donald Young offers a menu specific to this journey across the valley and the two-story observation style dining car makes this a private dining experience you won’t want to miss.
The Estate Tour
The Napa Valley Wine Train offers half and full day winery tours, but if you were visiting the valley for a sampling of the life here, the full day Estate Tour is exactly what you would be looking for. Not only will you get to ride through miles of world renowned grape vines, you’ll travel amongst some of the area’s renowned estates.
The four course Napa style meal begins with sparkling wine as you board, a gourmet breakfast trio, light lunch, lavish dinner, and the pastry chef’s daily creation during your return. You’ll spend an hour each at Domaine Chandon, a pioneer of sparkling wine, the 150 year old HALL St. Helena, and the stately chateau of Inglenook, owned by Francis Ford Coppola and his most wonderful wife, Eleanor. You can even get a little insider view of what it was like growing up at the infamous Inglenook from my sit down with the esteemed Robin Daniel Lail. Experience the roots of a one of a kind winery, enjoy the area’s history, and contemporary art as you walk amongst the vines.
Upcoming Special Events
If you have the privilege of visiting Napa Valley, do yourself a favor and book one of the few daily tours for a memorable experience.
Happy Hour Hop Train & Tequila Train
As many young adults are now indulging in beer and spirits, the Wine Train has a new offering dedicated specifically to them. I spoke with Rob McMillan on my podcast about the recent drop in wine sales, in some part, due to interest in spirits (skinny drinks) and believe these new train tours are exactly what Napa Valley needs to attract the next generation.
The Happy Hour Hop Train offers tasty bar bites and two pints of craft beer from Palisades, brewed with the same care and attention to detail as Napa Valley wine, all on an Open Air train car. The Tequila Train is a two hour adventure with two drinking courses from the world’s best sipping tequila, Casa Dragones! There is a Mexican themed tasting menu and traditional Latin tunes. Each special event train offers an unexpected way to savor wine country.
Grgich Hills Estate Saturday Evening Winery Tour
If you’ve ever wanted a private walk through a legendary winery, the Grgich Hills Estate tour is an exclusive two hour evening journey by motorcoach, right into a one hour tasting with VIP treatment. You’ll sample delightful Grgich wines paired perfectly with rich cheese, all alongside a three course gourmet dinner.
At the beginning, the Wine Train would take guests to multiple Napa Valley wineries for a concert series. The Grgich Hills Estate was among some of the first wineries to be featured here and has since become a favorite stop along the rail. It’s no wonder the partnership has allowed for this special event.
Plan Your Ride on The Wine Train in Napa Valley
If you’re organizing a trip to wine country, the Napa Valley Wine Train needs to be on your itinerary. I have watched the transition of this somewhat forgotten rail car attraction morph into an extremely successful and unique blossoming venture. Napa Valley is blessed to have the owners, Scott Goldie and Greg Brun, their creativity, sense of adventure, and contribution to many wonderful changes in the valley – making it a privilege to live and visit here.
Don’t miss the Murder Mystery train which runs at least once each month until November, or the Santa Train that received acclaim from National Geographic. It’s a very exciting time in the valley and we are so lucky to have attractions like this. I can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures on the Wine Train. And, if you’re looking for a place to stay, consider one of the best Napa Valley resorts to call home while you’re here.