Having lived in Napa a year and a half I thought it was definitely time I tried it out the Wine Train for myself. This is afterall, a huge attraction in the Valley and something that us locals hear several times a day coming into town with at least two services a day. The Wine Train sells many experiences: lunch, dinner and also experiences where passengers can get off and taste at various wineries. With my father visiting we decided to take the lunch train.
After a brief orientation in the departure lounge (which does need some updating) we boarded the train and had our own table. Lunch service starts right away and you get a choice of two mains as well as the salad and dessert course. Your first glass of wine is part of the ticket. The wine list is like a “who’s who” of the Napa Valley and all the big names are on there – reasonably priced I might add! The train staff explain what appellations and vineyards you are passing, along with the history of the Napa Valley.
As a local who passes through Highway 29, it was interesting to see the view of the backs of houses and wineries that you don’t see from the road. The train stops in St Helena and the engine moves around to tow the cars back to Napa. From there we sat in another car for dessert and coffee. It is not cheap ($120 per person for lunch) but I have to say it was worth it for me to try it one time.
Now when I see it (and traveling as I do around Napa I see it all the time) It has a different impression on me now that I’ve experienced the train. I expected something a bit more dated – and while the departure lounge does not disappoint in that regard, the experience on the train is really excellent. The food is a lot better than I imagined and the staff are really friendly and knowledgeable. I’d definitely recommend this for visitors and locals!
Have you been on the wine train? I’d love to know what you thought!