All Aboard the Wine Train!

May 12 was National Train Day, with Amtrak staging celebrations at its stations in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“Trains have always been an important part of America’s transportation legacy, and Amtrak has been America’s railroad for 40 years,” notes Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak’s Vice President of Marketing and Product Development. “This past year, we had a record-breaking 30 million passengers enjoying the journey on our trains, and this year’s National Train Day celebrated the unique excitement and inspiration train travel offers.”

If you couldn’t make it to a National Train Day event, consider planning a train-focused trip to one of America’s winegrowing regions this summer. There are several worthy of consideration, including two in California and one in Colorado.

Today, I’ll tell you about the most famous of all wine trains. Tomorrow, I’ll share some information on two other trains that are great fun for wine lovers.

The Napa Valley Wine Train provides a relaxing three-hour, 36-mile round-trip journey from the historic town of Napa through one of the world’s best-known wine valleys to the quaint village of St. Helena, and back.

Guests aboard the Wine Train enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner inside a fully restored 1915-1917 Pullman Dining Car or 1952 Vista Dome car as they pass the vineyards and wineries of Napa Valley. They also have the option of pre-purchasing a winery tour.

The expertly refurbished Pullman Cars create an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and enjoyment. Meals, crafted by Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald, are prepared in a specially fabricated kitchen car located adjacent to each dining area. The meals are freshly prepared on the train using environmentally responsible ingredients; humanely-raised, hormone-free meats, and fresh, line-caught fish.

The lounge cars are luxuriously furnished and equipped with picture windows to maximize the view. All rail cars are expertly finished with Honduran mahogany paneling, etched glass partitions and brass accents.

Guests are invited to explore the train, where they may visit the kitchen car to see the chefs in action; the wine tasting bar, where a wine expert can help them find a favorite new wine; or the observation deck, where they can soak in an unobstructed view of the valley.

Because the Napa Valley experience should not have to end when the tasting rooms close, a special Evening Winery Tour is offered. The acclaimed Grgich Hills Estate will re-open exclusively for the Wine Train’s Evening Winery Tour guests.

Participants travel by motor coach to Grgich Hills Estate, where they’ll disembark and be guided on a private tour and tasting. The tour includes a behind-the-scenes look at the cellar, fruit and cheese pairings, as well as samples of Grgich Hills wines.

After the tour, the Napa Valley Wine Train will stop in front of the winery, where tour participants will board and be escorted to the dining car to enjoy a four-course gourmet meal while the train chugs back to Napa.

The tracks on which the Napa Valley Wine Train runs were built in the 1860s to bring guests to the hot springs resort town of Calistoga. While the track to Calistoga no longer exists, much of the rest of the route is unchanged.

During the three-hour journey, guests can see five towns—Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena—and numerous wineries through the large picture windows. Currently, the day trains stop at different locations, depending on the day of the week. Guests are allowed to disembark at these locations if they have pre-purchased one of the winery tours.

Tomorrow: We’ll venture down the coast of California for a trip on the Santa Barbara Vino Train, then we’ll head east to Colorado for a wine-focused excursion on the Royal Gorge Route Railroad. All aboard!

Have you ever taken a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train? Did you have a good time? Would you do it again? Share your experiences in the Comments box below.

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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