Planning a trip to Yountville and the Napa Valley can be overwhelming with so much to do and see! As someone that has spent a good deal of time exploring the Napa Valley I have one strong suggestion for visitors: Go on the Napa Valley Wine Train! The Napa Valley Wine Train offers several different experiences depending on if you want to make it a full day itinerary, get off at wineries or simply have a meal while enjoying the view. Scroll down to read about my recent experience on the Gourmet Lunch Tour.
The Gourmet Express Lunch is designed to transport visitors back to the early 1900s, during the Golden Age of train travel. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the train journey with stunning views of the Napa Valley and world class California Cuisine. The train cars that you ride in were originally built in the early 1900s by Pullman and helped to bring people all the way across the country from the East Coast. The tracks that you travel on were laid down by Sam Brennan (California’s first millionaire) in the 1800s to bring people to his resorts in Calistoga. Napa Valley Wine Train invites you to slow down and truly enjoy a Napa Valley experience.
The Napa Valley Wine Train depot is located in downtown Napa in the Oxbow District. My group and I arrived promptly at 10:30 a.m. to check in. Once checked in we purchased a coffee at the depot bar and waited excitedly to board the train.
When it was time to board the train we were shown to the Merlot Lounge Car. The Merlot Lounge Car was built in 1915 and was originally built for the Northern Pacific Railway. We were seated in four comfy lounge chairs facing the windows. The first part of our journey took us through the newly established Railway Art District (RAD). Colorful murals whipped past us as we made our way out of town and headed up valley. My favorite mural was one of a dog looking out a window that, when looked at quickly, didn’t even look like a painting!
Once we were through RAD and heading north the four of us decide that it was time for some wine. We order a lovely bottle of Charles Krug that paired beautifully with the cheese plate we were given. As we came out of the town of Napa we were awed by the unique views of the Mayacamas Mountains and all of the vineyards that we see everyday. From the train you notice things that would be missed by simply driving. Once we got to St. Helena it was time to head into the dining car for our gourmet lunch.
You might book the train for the views but you will want to keep coming back for the food! We got to sit on the opposite side of the train so we could enjoy a different view on our way back down the valley. I was immediately blow away by the choices we had for lunch! Everything from steak to salmon to homemade pasta. The Wine Train chefs have truly created something for everyone.
We started our meal with the lobster bisque (so good!) and homemade bread. Following the bisque, I had the winter gnocchi, which was fabulous. Two of my friends had the steak and said it was cooked perfectly and one had the salmon which was the envy of all of us. We were all feeling very full and happy but still had dessert yet to come! I choose the chocolate mousse, although the poppyseed cake also looked amazing. We finished off our meal with complimentary coffee and tea service.
The Napa Valley Wine Train is a great experience whether it is your first time in the Napa Valley, you visit every year, or even if you are a local. Make sure and book a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train the next time you are in town!