All aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train for a journey back in time to early 20th century luxury travel and fine local dining, in the heart of premier wine country. The Napa Valley Wine Train station is an easy one-hour drive outside San Francisco, and located right outside historic Napa Valley downtown. Guests are cordially welcomed on board after having their photo taken in front of the restored antique Pullman train cars.
As passengers step on the train, they also take a step back in time; adorned with Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions, and exquisite armchairs, the rail cars are outfitted with the decor of historic, high-class travel. Guests are welcomed with a glass of Napa Valley wine, and a choice between a classic Californian full-bodied red, or a crisp, citrusy white wine with buttery notes on the back of the palate.
The meal is an adventure in fresh, local ingredients, elegantly cooked-to-order on the challenging stage of the train kitchen. Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald crafts a delectable seasonal menu, spotlighting the farm-fresh ingredients of Napa Valley. As the train rolls peacefully by the beautiful Napa Valley vineyards, guests have the option of beginning their meal with a soup, or salad. The soup, a fresh corn chowder with hits of parsley, has a light salinity, and a gorgeous hearty texture. The garden salad is full of fresh greens and vegetables, brightened by the delightfully acidic dressing.
A highlight of the menu is the perfectly cooked Swordfish atop a bed of garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes, creamy California avocado, beautifully seared baby potatoes, and earthy spinach, all complimented by the citrusy mango butter sauce. Another shining dish is the Roasted Beef Tenderloin; a decadent black truffle potato cake with creamy Cambozola cheese, paired with the earthy flavor of the parsnip chips, beautifully underscores the natural beef flavors. The Coriander Mustard Encrusted Breast of Chicken is a winning dish among guests. The coriander and mustard add a pleasant zing to the dish, while the endive and radicchio feta salad bring refreshing natural flavors, accentuated by the zesty citrus beurre blanc sauce.
On the Grgich Hills Winery tour, guests detrain after a beautiful meal at the winery entrance. Grgich Hills Estate is the largest biodynamic winery in North America, and boasts 100% estate grown, certified-organic grapes. One of the most notable qualities of the winery is it’s full-bodied history. A local leads the winery tour, and walks guests through the history of “the Valley.”
Grgich Hills Winery’s roots run deep into the history of Napa, making it a place for both premier wine, and a relic of Napa Valley’s claim to fame. One of the biggest influencers in Napa’s history, Mike Grgich, is the winery’s owner. He is renowned for the Chardonnay he produced as the Winemaker at Chateau Montelena, which won the Judgment of Paris, putting Napa Valley on the wine map. He continues to be a central figure in making world-class wines at Grgich Hills.
It is no surprise then that the wines are superior quality. The Grgich Hills Chardonnay will make your mouth water with crisp flavors of tart Fuji apple. The unique Fume Blanc entices with a smooth grassiness on the palate, and scents of lemongrass and bell pepper on the nose. The full-bodied Zinfandel presents a dusty, earthy impression on the palate, with delicate hints of red berries and black pepper. These innovative wines are perfect for pairing with meals, and there is a wine for every occasion.
After a delightful tasting, hosted by a knowledgeable wine-o, including detailed tips on ‘How to Taste’, guests re-board the train for the journey home. Watching the bucolic landscape of vineyards and wineries roll by, guests enjoy dessert, tea, and coffee. Memories of fine wine on the palate, a bottle in your bag, and a mouthwatering dessert make the perfect end to perhaps the most relaxing, luxurious, and historical way to experience Napa Valley.
Upcoming Napa Valley Wine Train events:
Winemaker Celebrity Dinner with Chris Phelps on Friday, September 13 at 5:30 p.m
Moonlight Escape on Thursday, September 19 at 5:30 pm
Vintner’s Lunch with Jericho Canyon Vineyards on Friday, September 20 at 10:30 a.m
Learn more at winetrain.com.