Sure, some call it touristy, but just recently the Napa Wine Train has undergone a nifty transformation, taking it from touristy to hip. Chic upgrades to the interior of the train's cares include sleek navy velvet, old-world saddle leather, and a new, young chef to elevate the cooking up a notch or two. Also debuting are stops along the way at prestigious wineries, for a taste of the good life.
The historic Napa Wine Train follows the same route built by a San Fransisco millionaire in 1864. And, really, what's not to love about it? Delicious dining, wine pairings, and vineyards as far as the eye can see! Let's take a look at the various tour packages that are available for this ride through Wine Country.
Sit back and relax as you pass by world-famous vineyards. Travel north to the town of St Helena, passing the towns of Yountville, Oakville, and Rutherford. You're free to explore the historic train during the journey, even to visit the kitchen car to see the culinary team work their magic. Choose from lunch or dinner departures.
Very worthwhile three hours spent on the train. Excellent service, delicious food, and informative commentary along the route. I would especially recommend this as a relaxing break from days spent walking the streets and hills of San Francisco."
– 5-Star Review
What if you're not staying in Napa? You can still enjoy the classic Wine train since this popular tour includes return transportation from San Francisco. It makes for a great day — meet at the Ferry Building in San Francisco at 8:15 am, have lunch on the train, and be returned to the same spot seven hours later. Choose from either a First Seating or Second Seating.
Enjoy the classic ride and multi-course lunch, then add a stop at one or two of these amazing wineries for an exclusive tour and tasting. Choose from Grgich Hills Estate, Raymond Vineyards, and the historic Charles Krug Winery.
In 1864, San Francisco's first millionaire, Samuel Brannan, built a rail line to ferry visitors to the resort town of Calistoga. About 100 years later, Highway 29 was built through the Napa Valley, next to the rail line, as the first corridor through the valley.
This rail corridor is the same one that the Napa Wine Train now travels. You board at the McKinstry Street Station in downtown Napa. The train first crosses the Rural Urban Limit Line (RUL). After about ten minutes the scenery transforms from light industrial to the verdant vineyards of the of Napa Valley.
The railcars used on the train were built in 1915 by the Pullman Standard Company as first-class coaches for the Northern Pacific Railway. These were premier trains for the North Coast Limited & the Northern Pacific Atlantic Express. In 1915, the cars were at the zenith of leading technology and built entirely out of steel.
The all-steel cars were safer than their predecessors built from wood. The new cars were outfitted with electric lights, steam heat, and luxury arched windows. As you could imagine, the steel cars, nicknamed the "heavyweights", clocked in at 141,000 pounds or 70.5 tons! After a long service, some of the cars were purchased in 1960 by the Denver Rio Grande Western Railroad for its ski train service. In 1987, the Napa Valley Wine Train bought them.
Then began a long, extensive project to restore the cars to their former glory. They were furnished with mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass, and armchairs upholstered with soft velveteen fabric. The vision was clear — to restore the railcars to evoke the spirit of luxury rail travel of the early twentieth century.
Like a fairytale, the route takes you through one of the prettiest wine regions in the world. Just fifty miles from San Francisco, Napa Valley is just thirty miles long and five miles across at its widest point. The route is a thirty-six mile round trip journey from Napa to St. Helena and back, lasting three hours, with just enough time for a leisurely, long lunch or dinner.
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