It’s not uncommon to see the wine train pass by you while wine tasting or driving through the Napa Valley. Often times I would stop what I was doing at wineries just so I could watch the Napa Valley Wine Train go by, wondering what an experience on it would be like. Passengers on board wave as they pass you by, looking so incredibly happy. I mean, how could they not? They are drinking wine while taking in the Napa Valley scene. Finally the day came where I got to cross an experience on the Napa Valley Wine Train off my bucket list.
My husband and I arrived at the Napa Valley Wine Train station near downtown Napa around 10 a.m. We checked in very quickly with the friendly staff, got our boarding passes, and explored the station while waiting to board. The train station had two gift shops, a tasting bar (to get you started before departure), and even an employee waiting to take your picture with your own camera (free of charge, of course)!
While waiting we were also given a brief introduction to the history of the wine train, which was quite fascinating. Did you know the Napa Valley Wine Train is family owned and operated? It also began its gourmet-dining service September 16, 1989. The railroad itself, however, was built and operated by Samuel Brannan in 1864 as a tourist railroad to take visiting San Franciscans as they arrived by ferry in south Napa to his resort town ‘Calistoga’.
When boarding the wine train you cross a very unique bridge dedicated to “love locks.” Hopeless romantics and affectionistas of all types can symbolically – and physically – lock their love forever and throw away the key on the boarding platform of the Napa Valley Wine Train. What a wonderful thing to be able to do with your significant other. If you don’t have your own lock, one of the gift shops inside not only sells different style locks, you can engrave it yourself as well! Don’t worry, the prices are reasonable.
Once we were on the wine train we were shown our assigned seats. Since we visited during the day, our experience was during the Gourmet Express Lunch. We were a part of the “late lunch” group which means while the first group was eating their lunch in the dining car, we were in our seats, overlooking beautiful wine country, and eating appetizers until it was our turn to switch with the “early lunch” group.
After the train took off, we were greeted with our complementary wine pour. It was a great way to start our experience. Your first pour on the wine train is complementary, however any pour after is not. But don’t worry, the prices are at a reasonable price. You can even do sampler tastings, which is what I did for only $10.