Travel Tuesday: The Napa Valley Wine Train

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One of the things that had been on my “bucket list” for awhile was a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train in Napa Valley, California, and in May, Darcy and I finally booked our passage. We were on a short holiday in San Francisco and took a day trip down to Napa to enjoy this special tour. Leaving from the Fairmont downtown, it was a pleasant 90 minute drive to McKinstry Street Station in Napa where it departs from.  

Their website says it best: “The Napa Valley Wine Train provides a relaxing three-hour, thirty-six mile round-trip journey from the historic town of Napa, through one of the world’s most well known wine valleys to the quaint village of St. Helena, and back. Guests aboard the Wine Train enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner inside a fully restored 1915-1917 Pullman Dining Car or 1952 Vista Dome car as they pass the vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley. They also have the option of pre-purchasing a winery tour.”

Darcy booked us for a lunch trip (They also do dinner) and we were seated in the Cabernet car, which was on the end, allowing for easy access for some outdoor photographs.

Upon arriving, we were greeted with a complimentary glass of wine and one of the best hors d’oeuvre plates I have ever eaten as far as fresh, amazing flavors go. Considering this girl eats in Paris once a year, that is really saying something about how good amazing the food was… We had the option to purchase a flight of wine to go with our hors d’oeuvres and both agreed that was a fabulous idea. Darcy chose the flight that included two reds and two whites. I chose the dessert wine flight…

The interior of the cars was beautiful. No detail spared. Gorgeous, comfy chairs. Every seat a window seat.  I loved that our car in particular was full of beautiful paintings. It added to the luxury. The staff was courteous and knowledgeable. In fact, I really enjoyed how organized everything was. I tent to avoid group type tours and things of this nature instead choosing usually to go off on my own and at my own schedule. I was pleasantly surprised how efficiently things were done. I did not feel like I was part of a large group. Darcy and I were having the perfect day.

My favorite wine from my dessert flight. I’m thrilled I found a local wine store that carries it.
Following hors d’oeuvres, we were free to enjoy the view and sip our wine, or tour the other cars at will. Walking the train to see all the different cars (they are all decorated a bit differently) is encouraged. It was a great time to take pictures, view the kitchen (which has viewing windows), and take in the breathtaking scenery which is Napa Valley. I was even fortunate enough to meet Executive Chef, Kelly Macdonald. (Look at me…Getting photographed with two handsome men that day!)
Me and Darcy, checking out the train…
Me with Executive Chef, Kelly Macdonald…
The kitchen…

Our dining car…

When we booked the Napa Wine Train I was expecting good food. I wasn’t necessarily expecting great food…it’s a train, not a restaurant. I was so mistaken. It was amazing food created by an award winning chef. They offer three lunch packages, the Silverado (more casual), the gourmet express (what we did) and gourmet lunch served in the vista dome. I highly recommend the Gourmet Express Lunch. It was served in a gorgeous dining car and the food was fabulous. We had our choice of three entrees, and all included our choice of starter and dessert. This was our food…

I was loving everything about this day. The views, the food, the company and the service…

If you are every going to be in the San Francisco area, I highly recommend taking a day trip down to Napa Valley, or better yet, spend a night there at one of the local hotels that will shuttle you to and from the wine train if you don’t want to drive. I’m not a big drinker, so while I enjoyed tasting the wines, I was the designated driver for the day, though as it turned out, Darcy wasn’t a big drinker either so he did the driving anyway. On that note, I did partake in one of their non-alcoholic cocktails…like everything else, it was delicious.
I don’t think I would have been as impressed with the whole experience had we done the Silverado lunch package instead of the one we did (Gourmet Express). It is worth the extra $10 a person and our meal was more of a fine dining experience than what the Silverado diners were served (The Silverado lunch is not available Nov-April).
The wine train check in for lunches starts at  10:30am, the train leaves at 11:30 and returns you back to the station by 2:30.  I have not done the dinner selections yet, but I’m not sure you can beat the gorgeous daytime views of the lunch time departure. However, the dinner train times allow you to take in the beautiful California sunset over Napa Valley, so that might be worth a try for next time.
You can find out more about the wine train, including prices for their lunch and dinner packages on their website here.  Darcy and I definitely plan to do this again. Maybe we will see you there!

The Napa Valley Wine Train Station is located at:
1275 McKinstry Street, Napa, California 94559.
**I was not compensated for my post in anyway; just sharing my experience!
Happy Travels,
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