8 Things to Know About the Napa Valley Wine Train

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All aboard The Napa Valley Wine Train! One of the most unique and enchanting experiences in Napa Valley, the wine train offers guests a trip to the past while showing you the best of what Napa Valley has to offer today.

On your 36-mile round trip from Napa to St. Helena and back, you’ll experience gourmet cuisine, stunning views, and stops at wineries. With its refurbished, vintage pull cars, lush detailing, and romantic setting, you’ll fall in love with the bygone era of locomotive travel that the Napa Valley Wine Train preserves. Here is everything you need to know about this one-of-a-kind experience.

1. The train is also a gourmet restaurant

Though the thrill of the ride is a huge part of the experience, the train is primarily a rolling gourmet restaurant featuring a changing seasonal menu that highlights fresh, local ingredients (all prepared in the train’s two onboard kitchens). From tuna tartar to roasted beef tenderloin, expect to dine on decadent courses of gourmet, Napa-style fare. In the spirit of Wine Country, an extensive onboard wine list is available for lunch and dinner, offering 40 different wines. You can even bring your own wine aboard, but just know you’ll have to pay a corkage fee.

2. Yes, the wine train makes stops at famous wineries

Courtesy of Charles Krug

First-time visitors are encouraged to try The Legacy Experience, which includes a multi-course gourmet lunch during an hour-and-a-half-long journey to two of Napa Valley’s most famous wineries, Charles Krug Winery and V. Sattui.

The Legacy Experience makes its first stop at the historic Charles Krug Winery, the oldest winery in Napa Valley. Guests will enjoy a private tour and tasting at the winery, which is the birthplace of California wine tasting as we know it (Charles Krug opened the first tasting room in the state), before heading to the whimsical winery that is V. Sattui. One of the first wineries to offer a wine tasting experience, you’ll enjoy their award-winning small batch wines amongst the Italianate architecture and lush gardens.

The Napa Valley Wine Train also offers half day tours, such as the Grgich Hills Winery Tour, which includes a three-hour train ride with a gourmet, multi-course lunch, followed by a tour and tasting at Grgich Hills Estate, founded by wine legend, Mike Grgich, who is recognized as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.

3. Children are welcome on the Napa Valley Wine Train

No need to leave the kids behind, as the Napa Valley Wine Train is an adventure fit for the whole family. The Open Air Car is perfect for a kid-friendly lunch since it is the most casual car on the train, so you can relax with your family without worrying about interrupting guests who seek a more upscale experience. The car’s open-air windows provide an eye-catching panoramic view of the passing scenery as the train glides through the valley. Children’s rates are only available for select packages, so be sure to call ahead.

4. A trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train is like stepping back in time

Insiders who have ridden the Napa Valley Wine Train recommend the Vista Dome Package, a train journey like no other. Though it’s the most expensive package, it features an unforgettable dining experience on the elevated, two-story Vista Dome dining car to deliver a “first-class” experience. With its plush interiors, exquisitely prepared food, and unobstructed views from every angle, Vista Dome is a nod to the glory days of luxury rail travel.

5. You can get married on the train

With its upscale culinary offerings and gorgeous vintage setting, the train is also a distinctive way for romantic couples to tie the knot. Small, intimate elopements can be conducted on the back of the moving train as it glides along the rails under Napa Valley’s lush sweeping scenery. Or, make reservations for larger groups in a single car or throughout the entire train. The train has everything needed to bring the vision of your special event to life.

6. The train journeys to the North Pole during winter

During the winter holiday season, the Wine Train transforms into the Santa Train, welcoming kids of all ages to enjoy games, singing, and live entertainment as it makes its way north to the “North Pole.” This interactive musical journey is complete with hot cocoa, freshly-baked cookies, and, of course, Santa himself, and is surely a treat for the whole family.

7. You can enjoy elegant evenings on the train

Evening travelers can enjoy a luxurious four-course dinner in the Vista Dome. In the observation car, the sunset will act as your backdrop as you travel throughout Napa Valley. The Wine Train also offers a gourmet dining experience on the Pullman dining car. The Gourmet Express Dinner is a three-course meal that encourages guests to explore the train.

8. You might solve a murder while riding the rails

For a fun and completely unforgettable fine dining and entertainment experience, book a seat on the train’s Murder Mystery dining tour, which operates on select dinner trains year-round. Don your best 1920s attire (or regular clothes to become a private detective) for an evening of mystery, mayhem, and murder as you enjoy a three-course dinner and work to uncover all the secrets aboard the vintage train.

Whether you’re a wine enthusiast, train-lover, or foodie — or all three — the Napa Valley Wine Train is an unforgettable dining, tasting, and travel experience that stimulates all the senses.

Images courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train

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WineCountry Staff

WineCountry Media is made up of a dedicated and passionate team of wine and travel aficionados. We diligently explore regions, both near and far, to curate the best ideas and resources. Whether you're musing over your next escapade, planning a wine-fueled weekend away, or embracing the Wine Country lifestyle every day, trust us to be your comprehensive guide.