Just an hour from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, the Napa Valley Wine Train in California distills the essence of the wine country into a single day of wining, dining, and riding through the countryside on an antique train.
All Napa Valley Wine Train tours depart from downtown Napa along the Napa Valley Wine Train rail line, but some tour packages include a roundtrip transfer from San Francisco or Vallejo. Opt for a train trip with a gourmet lunch or dinner tour to either bask in the sun or watch it set through the windows or from the deck of vintage Pullman railcars elegantly restored with brass accents, Honduran mahogany, and etched glass partitions. All wine tours include a multiple-course gourmet meal freshly prepared on board but vary in their winery tour options. Gourmands might prefer to ride continuously for three hours for an uninterrupted train dining journey, while wine enthusiasts may choose a five-hour option that stops at tasting rooms of famous wineries along the way.
Guests can sit in the Vista Dome, the glass-enclosed upper deck with panoramic views of Napa Valley scenery, or the elegant Gourmet Express dining train. Vineyard tour options include the Castle Winery tour, which stops at the Castello di Amorosa vineyard; the Raymond Vineyards tour; and the Grgich Hills Winery tour, which offers an evening option. The Ambassador Winery tour includes tastings at two wineries, while the Quattro Vino tour includes tastings at four. Look out for special tasting room events such as the Murder Mystery dinner tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The wine train ride is a perfect romantic excursion for travelers 21 and up.
- Dress for heat or wind (depending on the time of year) if you plan to enjoy sitting on the deck.
- Bring proper photo identification for wine tastings.
- Dressing up is recommended, but many opt for more casual attire.
How to Get There
Those with access to a car will find the drive to historic Napa relatively easy from anywhere in the Bay Area. The drive from San Francisco to Napa is about 52 miles (84 km); as with most major metropolitan areas, leave plenty of time to account for unforeseen traffic. Those without access to a car may want to consider renting one for the day or opting for a tour that includes round-trip transportation from San Francisco or Vallejo, as public transportation options to Napa are severely limited.
When to Get There
Wildflowers are in full bloom from the end of February through April, adding delightful splashes of color to the landscape. November is the best time to see blond hills and flame-tipped leaves in the height of fall.