Visiting the Napa Valley? One of your excursions should be a ride on The Napa Valley Wine Train! This fun and even family-friendly adventure 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.
The Napa Valley Wine Train begins its journey at the McKinstry Street Station in Napa.When you arrive, register for you tickets and boarding letter and enjoy two glasses of wine as you wait. An employee addresses the crowd with history of the wine train as well as what to expect on your ride. Servers hand out a glass of white and a glass of red to all legal drinkers and although we were on the lunch train and it was only 10:30am, we really enjoyed waking up our palate!
Here, lovers can take a simple padlock decorated with their names, initials or a special date and affix it to the bridge fence. Once the lock is locked, the key can be either tossed into the abyss (or should we say swale) below the bridge or saved as a keepsake.
We didn’t know this ahead of time, but thought it was precious!
Our BBQ lunch awaited us on the Silverado Car, and we were excited to be on board the only car that has open-air windows. Honestly the day was gorgeous at just about 75 degrees so it was lovely, the air conditioned cars for the gourmet lunches may have been too cool for us.
Prior to our meal, we met our hosts and servers for the car (ours was a cute Ryan Gosling lookalike!) and were served our choice of one glass of wine to accompany our meal. Wine is encouraged to bring on board for a $15 corkage fee if you please. We also had our menu to peruse with our mouth-watering choices of soup/salad, 5 choices of bbq’ed entrees, and choice of dessert. The flip-side of the menu gave us a route of our ride (see below).
The Train then travels north to St. Helena, where the locomotive disconnects from the north facing side of the Train and reconnects to the south facing side of the Train in preparation for the return journey.
First up, steaming hot french bread and butter combined with our soup and salad. Salad was a colorful mix of baby lettuce, smoked goat cheese, and candied walnuts in a honey cider vinaigrette. The salad was so fresh and the sweet and sour flavors were refreshing with the nice crunch of walnuts. The white bean and artichoke soup was creamy and delicious, my children enjoyed dipping their bread in it and that’s hard to come by!
Dining with views of amazing vineyards plus excellent cuisine and wine makes for a delightful time, I could do this once a month! Lunch is served and ribs with an apple slaw, mozzarella burgers with pesto potato salad, and grilled local sausage arrives before us. Portions are large for both adults and kids, but they taste amazing. The burger was amplified by the creamy fresh mozzarella, which is a nice twist, I’m thinking of adding basil and tomato at home to make a caprese burger next bbq! The pesto potato salad was also just another recipe I’ll have to try! The kids loved the sweet flavor of the thinly sliced apples in the tangy slaw. My son devoured his ribs and the sweet and smoky sauce was a great compliment! The Silverado car tends to pair nicely as family-friendly, I would have liked a children’s menu or portion for them as it was too big even for me, though we could take leftovers home with us.
At this point of the trip we stopped and were able to walk about the train, visiting each car, taking photos at the observation deck, and taking a peek into the kitchen car. Heading on our return trip, there was plenty of time to continue taking in all the sights and the fresh air blowing through the car. Very full from lunch, we sipped the rest of our wine and hoped the train walk made some room for dessert. Because the food filled us so much, I’m glad we didn’t bring an additional bottle of wine on board.
Chocolate pecan and caramel tart and creme brulee with blueberries were our scrumptious choices for dessert to end our train ride. The creme brulee was velvety and smooth with just the right amount of sweetness, countered by the slightly tart blueberries. The kids loved cracking through the sugar shell. The tart was smooth and the pecan flavor was enjoyed by the kids more than they expected. A cup of coffee was the perfect pair to dessert.
To end the trip, we were presented with a variety of wine tasting room invitations in the area as well as local wine club pamphlets. Would have love to extend our time in wine country, for sure on the next visit as a couple!
Our Wine Train experience was memorable, delicious, and fun for our whole family. I would definitely ride again on perhaps a different car for dinner or lunch with friends or a girl’s getaway! The staff and the atmosphere were so welcoming and inviting and it’s definitely an excursion you must do when you visit Napa. For more information, visit, http://winetrain.com/.
Our trip was hosted, all opinions 100% our own.