It was 1850 when the first commercial grapes were planted in Napa Valley and only a few short years later Samuel Brannan—San Francisco’s first millionaire—built a rail line to bring his wealthy friends to his resort spa in Calistoga in 1864.
Posh and luxurious was the ride from San Francisco via Vallejo to Calistoga. Through the decades, motorcars became the chosen form of transportation and the rail line became obsolete. Thanks to the loving care of “The Society for the Preservation of the Napa County Railroad,” Lou Schuyler—a retired Southern Pacific engineer—and Vincent DeDomenico—inventor of Rice-A-Roni—the Napa Valley Wine Train was born.
Their mission was to restore the quintessential beauty and decadence of traveling by private rail car with white glove service, passion for excellence and exceptional cuisine. Of course—being in Napa—fine wines would be the celebrated icons on the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to travel back to that time in the late 1800’s when opulence and service were paramount? Thanks to the loving care of Napa Valley Wine Train, it's now possible.
What to Expect During Your Ride
On one of the many journeys you get a rarified glimpse into the intimate and decadent lifestyle of the cultured affluent from a century ago. The train has superbly united the lavish old-world style of traveling by first-class trains with the personal touch of private VIP winery tours and intimate opportunities to meet the elusive wine makers who have crafted the exceptional elixirs that are served on board. Of course, every train adventure is accompanied by world-class gourmet meals prepared on the train.
Tours and Winery Access
Every day, the Napa Valley Wine Train leaves the station on a grand tour, each different and very unique. The most popular tours are the six-hour "Quattro Vino" tours with three distinct winery itineraries to choose from. While lounging like royalty in elegantly appointed cars with names like “Champagne Vista Dome” and “Le Petite Gourmet Dining Car” guests enjoy breathtaking views of Napa Valley vineyards while savoring a delicious, four-course meal.
The train stops at prestigious wineries where guests are given exclusive back stage access to areas of the wineries that are not open to the public. The wineries all have unique stories that are shared by the wine makers during the private tours. Each tour ends with a premium wine tasting created especially for the honored Napa Valley Wine Train guests.
Special Events on the Train
Murder Mystery Dinner Theater
For those who enjoy a bit of drama, the Napa Valley Wine Train hosts a monthly, Agatha Christie-influenced Murder Mystery Dinner Theater where guests are encouraged to come in costume. The fun starts at the station where guests are given clues to what will happen on board the train that night. This entertaining and interactive theater ride is a three-hour journey aboard the "Vintage Train" and includes a multi-course gourmet dinner where guests get lost in the intrigue of the evening.
Rock the Rails concerts
To celebrate harvest season, the Napa Valley Wine Train is hosting special events throughout the autumn months. The most anticipated are the "Rock the Rails" concert series showcasing Sheila E. in September and David Pack’s Legends in October. These concerts are a rare opportunity to hear world-class music while experiencing the joys of the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Meet the Maker
Keeping with its intimate and opulent lifestyle, the Wine Train features "Meet the Maker" events where winemakers from local wineries ride with guests on a four-hour wine pairing adventure in the "Private Reserve Train." The wine makers bring on board premium vintages that are not available to the public. While the train rolls through the lush vineyards of Napa, the wine makers take the guest on fascinating wine tastings voyages filled with stories of each wine’s creation and unique essence.
Twilight Dinner Series
During the next few months, the Wine Train and Raymond vineyards have partnered to host the "Twilight Dinner Series." This incredibly decadent evening includes appetizers and wine pairings on the train traveling northbound to Rutherford Station, followed by a private tour of Raymond Vineyard and then a two-course Epicurean feast that is set in one of the magnificent rooms at Raymond. Jean-Charles Boisset, the legendary wine czar and owner of Raymond enchants guests with his ebullience and enthusiasm for wine and food during this exclusive evening. The escapade ends with dessert served on the train heading back to the station.
In November and December, Santa comes to town with daily visits on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Children and adults alike are entertained at the station with delightful characters that lead them onto the train where Santa is waiting to give each child a stuffed teddy bear. The train is transformed into an enchanted winter wonderland and a light meal and hot chocolate are served on the hour and a half escapade. Guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped new toy that will be lovingly donated to Napa county foster children through Ticket to Dream Foundation. The Santa Train has become a celebrated tradition loved by all ages.