Take a train ride through the beautiful wine country and enjoy gourmet dining year-round aboard lavishly restored dining and ... More
Napa Valley Wine Train
Take a train ride through the beautiful wine country and enjoy gourmet dining year-round aboard lavishly restored dining and lounge cars. The Napa Valley Wine Train, consisting of nine rail cars and a double-sided Alco Diesel Engine, offers two wineries tours in addition to the luncheon excursion. Enjoy three hours aboard a circa 1947 glass domed railcar, rail travel in restored 1915-1917 Pullman dining and lounge railcars, which include three to five-course menus; or an 'a la carte' menu of lighter fare on the more casual Silverado.
Although we've lived in the area since the Wine Train began, we never had tried it. On the occasion of my mom's 80'th birthday, it was a great little adventure to make the occasion memorable. We loved the food. I had read other reviews, and chose to go for lunch so we would have daylight. From the menu, we chose the Yam Ravioli Hors d'oeuvre, the Red & Green Apple Endive Salad, and the Beef Tenderloin. No complaints -the staff has perfected this menu- the beef was incredibly tender and flavorful, but this 4 course meal was a LOT to eat. For dessert we had the creme brulet, which was a light and perfect ending. We only enjoyed the complimentary Mumms Napa bubbly, and had coffee with the meal, so we avoided the extra tariff for wine on top of our $387 for 3 tickets. I was glad we chose the Vista Dome because it provided more intimate seating than some of the other cars.
Just a note: if you are on the east side of the train, you'll be on the highway 29 side for both directions. On the plus side, we had unseasonably warm weather, and I think the people on the west side of the car were pretty warm in the sun. You might consider asking for your preference when you make your reservation. Tables in the Vista Dome are reserved, and I don't think you can change once you pick up your tickets. The train doesn't turn around: it goes forward to the end and vthen backs up all the way to Napa. The car does sway back and forth and my mom did have a little problem with motion sickness until the first stop, even though she faced forward. If you have trouble walking or with stairs, you should know that in addition to the initial steps up into the train. you'll have to conquer about 6-7 steps up into the Vista Dome car.
The waiters and waitresses note points of interest along the way, and were quite knowledgable about the Napa Valley and its vineyards. Our waitress, Fiona, was quick and pleasant, and added substantially to our feeling pampered and relaxed. Don't forget to tip your waitress, even if you won't receive a bill for additional wines. The servers work hard to make your experience positive.
We saw just one child get on the train, and thought that that family had probably wasted their money. The menu is not designed for a child's taste, and there isn't anything for them to do. My 15 year old opted out of going because she just wouldn't have eaten anything on the menu, except maybe the Chocolate cake, If you're raised a little gourmand, maybe it would be interesting for him or her.
To make mom's birthday a little special, she received a chocolate truffle with a small lighted candle. Although I'm sure it was delicious, it seemed a little too understated for her important occasion. Singing waiters would be unwelcome, but it seemed like something a little more impressive would have been appropriate.
In general we had a great time, enjoyed the ride, enjoyed the sparkling wine, and had a nice relaxing celebration and we were glad we'd decided to take this short trip on the Napa Wine Train.
They talked us into paying for the most expensive car with a dome roof because we could enjoy the view going out, and dine by sunset coming back. Well guess what, it was DARK before the train even left the station. Couldnt see a freakin' thing the whole trip! They knew that and should have told us instead of misrepresenting themselves by promising something that didnt happen.
I am a local, born and raised in the city of Napa and have grown up with the Wine Train going through town and along the highway. Just recently, I got the chance to go on the wine train for the first time in my life and was astounded by how much fun I had!
I was on the Gourmet Dinner train, which had excellent service and even better food! As a vegetarian, I was overjoyed to see that they provided a vegetarian option, which many high class restaurants in Napa make you ask for special. My friends who I went with enjoyed the meat dishes just as much as I enjoyed my sweet pea ravioli. It was delicious! I especially liked the homemade sorbets, the salad (which had the most amazing tasting dressing), and the dessert (try the tiramisu it is to die for!)
The wine selection is pretty good, and I was happy to hear from the guy who was working the wine bar that about 65% of the wines they serve on the train were local, from Napa County.
I loved the views from the train, and although part of it was along a road I often drive, the elevated views were breathtaking of the vineyards. I couldn't stop looking out the windows and thinking how lucky I was to live in a place this beautiful.
I am definitely planning on taking the wine train again, maybe even splurging on the dome car!
This is a local Napan's two thumbs up for the Napa Wine Train. It is great for both locals and tourists! I highly reccomend it.
Did the "Vista Dome" ticket. You can get a cheaper ticket, but I figured if might as well buy the best they offer.
It was really done up nicely, started off with a comp glass of sparkling wine.
The menu was broken down into a series of courses. Each one paired with their recommended wine. The food was included with the train ticket, the wine was not. $10 to $15 for a glass of their recommended wines. Not a bad price, but the wines were only good, not great. They did pair well, but there were other wines that I think would have paired better. I'm not exactly a wine guy, so take what I say about that with a grain of salt. It seemed to me they did better with red wines than with white ones.
The menu choices were fairly limited. You could have one of two choice for an appetizer, both of them were fairly small and froo-froo type things. Ours was either a shrimp with scallops and salmoe roe, or you could have had fois gras. High end food certainly, tasted great, but if you want a "simple" taste, this is not the place for it. Everything was really deep and complex (with the exception of the sorbet)
Salad or soup was the next choice. The salad I had was yummy, but I couldn't tell you much more than it had all kinds of greens, pecans, and fresh beets on the bottom. Normally I don't care for beets, but this was really good. As with the appetizer, the portion size wasn't huge, but it was enough.
The next course was sorbet, I think to clean your palate. It was interesting to not have something I consider a "desert" option at the end of the meal, but again, it worked well.
The main course was a bit limited in choices as were the others. There was something most folks could try. Beef, Lamb, Fish, Vegetarian, but again, all complex, and deep flavored dishes. Again with the paired wine. I felt they did better with the pairing this time, but that's possibly because of the red wine. I had the lamb, and my wife had the halibut. She enjoyed the halibut, I enjoyed the lamb, mostly. It could have been a tiny bit better cooked for my tastes. Still tasty, and wasn't to the point where I felt the need to send it back or anything.
Desert was a couple of choices. I don't remember what the other choice was, but my wife and I each got pumpkin creme brulee.
The interesting thing is that although each of the courses were small courses, by the end of the meal we were both full.
The coffee at the end was decent, the service was good, and the staff did a great job of working with the sway of the train. It took a bit of practice to get the eating down while rocking, but that was part of the experience!
All in all, glad we went. Not something I'd do often, but certainly something worth making the trip for a special occasion, or to treat out of town guests for a really memorable trip.
They did take our pictures in front of the train, and tried to sell them, which made things a bit cheesy, but not too bad. The gift shop was kind of cool, with a lot of wine choices, as well as a few fun things (Read the napkins if you go!)
My husband and I really enjoyed this. We went at night in the vista dome car. The meal was very filling and they kept the wine coming. This would not be a good place for a couple who wishes to be alone because you are seated with other people. We were very lucky that we were seated with a very nice couple so it was not a problem for us. The Vista Dome is very dressy, I would not recommend jeans. I think next time we are in town we will try the afternoon train so that we can see the countryside.
My wife and I took the Napa Valley Wine Train in July 07. We were expecting a lot because of what we had heard. The sad news is, I personally was uncomfortable the whole trip. I am a large person, but was seated in one of the smallest seats in the Vista Dome. I informed two of the persons running the dinner but to no avail. I sat through the three-hour affair very uncomfortable. I would have preferred not going. After returning to the station, I made a “an official complaint”. Sill no help. In all, I do not remember the food, the wine, the view, or anything else that could have made this an enjoyable trip, only the tight seating and the $288 my wife and I paid to go on this tour. I can not recommend this tour to others, mainly, I do not remember any thing good.
My husband and I opted for the Grgich wine train tour. The train ride was just as scenic as if you were driving down 29, but the ambiance of the train was wonderful and the food was delicious (the service was great too). The highlight of the train ride, however, was the stop and tasting at the winery. Without this, I would have been a little disappointed with the wine train experience.
The wine train food and service was excellent; however, the train moved at such a slow pace that you could feel every bump or dip in the tracks. Normally, I can take such motion; however, in this case, I would not recommend it for those with motion sickness. Even I was a little uncomfortable. We expected some kind of narration while riding the rails-something about the history of the valley and the wineries, etc. Instead, it was just a train ride with lunch. Be sure to get the meal that is served in one of the air-conditioned cars. There was one car that was not air-conditioned and we were there on one of the hottest days in Napa Valley history. It was over a 100 degrees outside. I really felt sorry for those who were riding in that car.
A great idea, but not worth the near $100 ticket. Menu has not changed in 10 years, you would be better off saving your money for a nice dinner at one of the other great restraunts in the area. They could do so much more with the idea. Food was good, but the overall experience was eh... so-so
If you've been to Napa Valley many times before then maybe the train would be worth doing. Otherwise, skip it. You'll have a more enjoyable time picking 2-3 wineries to tour and having lunch at a really nice restaurant or getting a picnic lunch at V. Sattui Winery. The scenery from the train is the same as your car and if you're from an agricultural area, you've seen the scenery before. There is no flexibility with the train and it is expensive, $50/person just for a ticket to get on. Wine and food are all separate packages. Do a little homework and plan your visit it will be more enjoyable than riding the train.
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