Ticket in hand, passengers set off on a three-hour journey, running parallel to St. Helena Highway from Napa town’s McKinstry Street railway station to the village of St. Helena. However, this journey is no ordinary wine tour, having ditched the car – many of the region’s visitors end up hiring a driver to chauffeur them from winery to winery – guests experience unrivalled views and relaxation onboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.
As the train chugs along, travelling 36-miles in three hours, many of the region’s most famous wine trail vineyards are revealed, giving a glimpse of the origin of many of the items on the journey’s wine list. While towns including Napa, Yountville (The home of Thomas Keller’s three Napa Valley restaurants), Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena are also passed. Sitting in either the Vista Dome or Gourmet Express, guests aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train have the option of dining over lunch or dinner while, during summertime, in the warmth of the Californian heat, the evening journey allows guests a glimpse of the valley at twilight – quite the magical experience – with the valley bathed in golden rays.
Napa Valley Wine Train carriages include fully restored 1915-1917 Pullman rail cars and a 1952 Vista Dome car. Originally installed in the 1860s, the train’s tracks were designed to ferry guests to the hot spring resort town of Calistoga, with much of the track unchanged since its construction.
With three kitchens onboard, guests can wander through the carriages to see award-winning executive chef, Kelly Macdonald at work, as the team prepare a gourmet multiple-course meal for passengers.
Ingredients are sustainably sourced, including the delicious bread, baked on the train and made by Sciambra-Passini French Bakery, a local bakery which has been serving the local community and beyond since the 1930s.
Other sources include local farmers markets and suppliers, such as Golden Bear Ranches, which supply heirlooms and other fruit, contributing to dishes such as the roasted beef tenderloin on vegetable‐potato sauté in a Zinfandel reduction, topped with horseradish cream or the grilled local lamb chops with rosemary grit dolmas in a Merlot reduction. Of course, a journey aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train wouldn’t be complete without a selection of local wines. Sequoia Grove (Napa Valley); Grgich Hills (Napa Valley) and the Domain Chandon Brut, whose vineyards are scattered across the Valley, are served before and during each course, guiding passengers through the Valley’s and surrounding area’s vineyards.
Lunch departures @ 11.30am from $109pp
Dinner departures @ 6.30pm from $119pp
For further information, visit: www.winetrain.com