The Napa Valley wine train tour is undoubtedly one of the most unique ways to explore the most prestigious wine growing region in the United States – immersing visitors in a bygone era aboard an antique rail train.
Established to preserve a piece of American railroading history, the Napa Valley wine train has been transporting visitors along a 25-mile track through the heart of the region – while simultaneously revealing its history and stunning settings for the last 25 years.The train, which features a collection of Pullman rail cars from the early 1900s that have been faithfully restored using Honduran mahogany panelling, brass accents, etched glass partitions and plush velveteen armchairs, also happens to be a fine dining restaurant.
As part of Napa Valley wine train tours, passengers can enjoy multiple course gourmet meals that echo the golden age of rail travel, as the sun-kissed countryside scattered with vineyards and over 140 wineries passes them by.The Napa Valley wine train tour travels through one of the world’s most respected wine regions, which first came to prominence on the international stage following the infamous 1976 Judgement of Paris – when, to the surprise of the wine world, several bottles of Napa wines trounced more illustrious vintages from Burgundy and Bordeaux during a blind tasting. This changed the perception of Northern Californian wines, with the Napa region now renowned for its signature Cabernet Sauvignon (also known as the classic ‘Nap Cab’) as well as internationally acclaimed Chardonnay among other styles.
The Napa Valley wine train route travels a rail line that was built by San Francisco’s first millionaire, Samuel Brannan, in 1864 as a means of taking visitors to the resort town of Calistago – which is now one of 16 wine appellations in the Valley. Brennan was later forced to sell his holdings to pay for a divorce and the railroad was taken over by Southern Pacific in 1885 and used as a commuter service before the rise of the automobile saw it become obsolete. Southern Pacific decided to sell the railroad in 1984, but a retired engineer from the same company realised its significance and beauty and began a quest to see it preserved that eventually led to a group finding investment before the Napa Valley wine train’s inaugural passenger trip in 1989. The line, which runs through the western side of the Valley, with the Silverado Trail in the east, now takes passengers on a 36-mile round trip from the city to St Helena and back that takes around three hours as part of a typical Napa wine train tour.
The train, which features its own Private Label wine from Raymond Vineyards, carries an award-winning wine list with suggested food pairings for each bottle. There are various Napa Valley wine train tour packages, which include winery visits, private romantic meals, a murder mystery experience and Champagne dining is a glass-sided vista dome carriage.
Another appreciated attraction is the Love Lock Bridge, a small pedestrian footbridge connection the Napa Valley wine train station to the platform that has been dedicated to lovers – who take padlocks decorated with their names or special dates and affix them to the fence in a similar way to the Pont de l'Archevêché, which crosses the Seine river in Paris. Once locked, the key is usually thrown into the swale below.
If you are interested in Napa Valley wine train tours, contact Wine Paths for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke experience organised by our local expert.
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