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5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

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  • Location:San Francisco, California
  • Duration:8 hours (approx.)

Viator Exclusive: Private Napa Valley Wine Train Culinary Experience from San Francisco

This Viator Exclusive, available nowhere else, takes you by luxury limo van from San Francisco to the wine country for a private culinary tour that includes a 3-course lunch or 5-course dinner on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Start with a sparkling wine tasting at Gloria Ferrer and free time to explore charming Sonoma, followed by exclusive access to the executive chef of the Culinary Arts Center in the train yard — closed to the public. Enjoy early boarding before you settle down for a gourmet meal paired with wine.

Highlights

  • Napa and Sonoma luxury wine and culinary tour from San Francisco
  • Gain insider access to the Napa Valley Wine Train’s food service on this Viator exclusive, available nowhere else
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Napa Valley Wine Train Culinary Arts Center – not open to the public!
  • Tour the kitchen with the executive chef to see where the train’s meals are made
  • Enjoy Champagne, wine and appetizers, plus a gourmet lunch or dinner on board
  • Visit Sonoma’s famous Gloria Ferrer winery for a private sparkling wine tasting

Why Our Insiders Chose This Tour

Going behind the scenes of the famous Napa Valley Wine Train is truly a once-in-a-lifetime culinary experience. The head chef is extremely passionate, making the kitchen tour a highlight. This kind of tour has only ever been available to executives and celebrities!

What You Can Expect

Viator Exclusive: Private Napa Valley Wine Train Culinary Experience from San Francisco

Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Executive Chef

This Viator Exclusive starts with hotel pickup in San Francisco by luxury limo van in the morning or afternoon. You’re transported in comfort across the Golden Gate Bridge by your professional driver/guide during a scenic 1-hour drive north to Napa and Sonoma. Your guide offers personalized service and provides commentary about the places you visit.

Enjoy a private culinary tour of the wine country, including a gourmet lunch or dinner on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Both options are identical, but taken in reverse order, depending on the time of year.

See Itinerary below for tour details and sample menus.

Itinerary

Dinner Train (May – October)
Your first stop is Gloria Ferrer, a famous winery that specializes in sparkling wines as well as pinot noir and chardonnay. In fact, this celebrated winery was the first sparkling wine producer in Sonoma’s Carneros region.

You'll be greeted by a private host with a glass of sparkling wine. Soak up the views of Sonoma's rolling hills and vineyards from the veranda as you sip this winery's signature bubbly.

Hop back in your limo van and head to downtown Sonoma for an hour of free time to explore this charming, historic city at your leisure. Spend time popping into quaint boutiques and cafes, and don't miss Sonoma State Historic Park — the site of the northernmost Franciscan Mission in California and the birthplace of the California State Bear Flag. Or you can simply grab a coffee and sit at a picnic bench under a tree in Sonoma Square to soak up the atmosphere.

Afterward, you're taken to the Napa Valley Wine Train Culinary Arts Center, located in the train yard. This place is not open to the general public, but you'll get the exclusive opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen where all the train’s gourmet meals are prepared.

Entering a room with beautiful views of the Napa River and downtown Napa, you’ll be greeted by executive chef Kelly Macdonald (or the sous chef on the rare occasion Kelly is not available) and taken on a tour of the kitchen to witness the hard work, creativity and skill that goes into every dish served on the train. Enjoy a glass of California sparkling wine and seasonal appetizers as you watch talented chefs working their magic — this experience has usually been reserved only for high-profile celebrities and executives!

You’ll be the first to board the Napa Valley Wine Train after your kitchen tour. Feel like a VIP as you're ushered to your seat with a taste of wine before the train departs and picks up the rest of general public at the standard boarding time.

Enjoy personalized service from your wait staff as you savor your 5-course gourmet dinner. Large picture windows offer expansive views of the gorgeous hillsides and vineyards of California wine country.

When your train returns to the train depot you’re taken on a relaxing limo van ride back to San Francisco. You’ll be rewarded with views of the glittering city lights sweeping across the skyline as you travel over the Golden Gate Bridge, arriving back at your hotel at night.

Lunch Train (November – April)
During the winter months, when it's a bit colder in the evenings, take advantage of the wine country during the daytime. This tour option includes a 3-course gourmet lunch instead of dinner, but the remaining tour components are the same — just in reverse order.

Dinner Sample Menu

Appetizer
  • Cured meats, artisan cheeses and olives

First Course
  • Baby lettuce salad with candied walnuts and smoked goat cheese in a honey-cider vinaigrette

Intermezzo
  • Harlequin sorbet

Main Course (choose one)
  • Roasted beef tenderloin on black truffle potato cake with onion and cambozola cheese
  • Grilled salmon on fingerling potatoes and sautéed baby spinach in a coconut curry broth topped with a calamari salad
  • Mediterranean-style grilled lamp chop with fennel, spinach and sautéed potatoes in a red wine reduction sauce topped with an olive tapenade
  • Winter squash polenta with a spinach-ricotta portabella and yam-stuffed pepper in a tomato-basil coulis
  • Special of the Day (ask your waiter for seasonal specialties)

Dessert
  • Changes daily

Drinks
  • Coffee and tea (included)
  • Espresso, cappuccino, soft drinks, juices and mineral water (additional cost)

Lunch Sample Menu

First Course (choose one)
  • Baby lettuce salad with candied walnuts and smoked goat cheese in a honey-cider vinaigrette
  • Soup du jour

Main Course (choose one)
  • Roasted beef tenderloin on a black truffle potato cake with onion and cambozola cheese
  • Grilled pork tenderloin stuffed with wild mushroom polenta on vegetables in a truffle port reduction sauce
  • Coriander chicken breast in a wild mushroom pappardelle pasta with pesto
  • Grilled salmon on fingerling potatoes and sautéed baby spinach in a coconut curry broth topped with a calamari salad
  • Winter squash polenta with a spinach-ricotta portabella and yam-stuffed pepper in a tomato-basil coulis

Dessert
  • Changes daily

Drinks
  • Coffee and tea (included)
  • Espresso, cappuccino, soft drinks, juices and mineral water (additional cost)

Customer Reviews

Robert H USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended June 2014

This tour is over the top. One of the best experiences we ever had. It started being picked up by Bob our driver for the day in a Mercedes Luxury Bus as we headed to a wonderful winery specializing in Sparkling wines then from there on to downtown Sonoma for some shopping and sightiseeing. From there off to the Wine train commissary for a private tour with Chef Kelly McDonald, his assistant Robert and a waiter who has been with the train for 25 years. Being in the food business myself this was a thrilling experience with special orders prepared for us, crab cakes, salmom, ect. while our waiter was very attentive in pouring sparkling wine and keeping the chef on time. Chef also presented the four of us with a special bottle of wine that he autographed. We toured the preparation areas and then did a tour of the kitchen area on board the train. This is all done at the facilily that is blocks from the train station. We had a private boarding there and had a great time with the waiter assigned to us on board who gave us a variety of wines to taste. Now we started our 5 course dinner that was to die for, no kidding this was 5 star and after touring the facilities and seeing the ingredients used I knew why. Can you tell we really enjoyed it. Upon completing the approx. 3 hour train ride through the wine country we were greeted by our driver Bob for our private ride back to San Francisco. Altough it was a 10 hour day it was just amazing. It was worth every penney.
Bob H., Lisa, Melissa, John

Usha M

5 star rating: Highly Recommended December 2013

It was great. Just a few ideas. Sonoma stop was only 20 mins, wish it was a bit longer. The Wine train tour was the best. The food was amazing. Will do it again!

Melissa H USA

5 star rating: Highly Recommended November 2013

I went on this to celebrate my recent engagement and had a splendid time--I really felt like a VIP. On the way to wine country, our driver was exceptionally knowledgeable about wine and gave us an education on the different types of wines and how to evaluate them during tastings. My favorite, favorite part of the entire experience was meeting the executive chef. He had prepared tasty little appetizers just for us and he went in depth on all the ingredients and methods he used as well as the history of the Wine Train. Absolutely fascinating (and delicious). The dinner was top-notch. I'm glad I went with his recommendation (a line-caught fish from Washington State)--truly sublime. We finished the evening in a club car for dessert and coffee. We even got to step outside of the car for some fresh air and to watch the scenery leisurely pass us by. I never felt rushed and everyone, from our driver, the executive chef, to the head waiter ensured the day was relaxing and carefree. A delightful, insightful experience!

taylor

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2013

Absolutely fabulous day and evening in the wine country! Tour was very smooth from start to finish and we really felt the "VIP" treatment. Seeing behind the scenes of the wine train was such a cool experience and we were even able to board the train (red carpet treatment included) at a location that is only used for celebrities. The champagne stop and the entire meal on board the train were both fantastic. Amazing experience all around.

CVS

5 star rating: Highly Recommended September 2013

We had what I understand to be the pleasure of being the very first people to do this tour and Its worth it in every way. The chef is fabulous to speak with, the food delicious, the wine well its a wine train for a reason. I would recommend you request on the left side on the way up and the other on the return.

disco1224

3 star rating: Worth doing October 2013

The train ride was really nice, and the food was spectacular, but we expected a little more at the winery. The person who waited on us brought us the wine, poured for us and then left us. We thought that there would be interaction with the host etc. We enjoyed the tour and hearing the Chief talking about his kitchen and everything that he does!

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Tour code: 5850VIP

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