A Ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train

For me, the allure of riding on a train is real. There is just something about an elegant train ride that I can’t quite put my finger on. I couldn’t pass on this experience while in Napa. A ride on the Napa Valley Wine train comes with many different options. In this post, I am going to be talking only about the Legacy Wine Tour. This is a full day tour starting from Napa town. If you want to explore the other experiences, you can visit their website at https://www.winetrain.com/our-tours/.

Your confirmation will give you all of the details for where to meet, but the location is in Napa town. They ask you to arrive at 9:45 for a departure at 10:15am. As you board by group, you will be greeted and escorted to your table where a glass of sparkling is waiting for you. The train departs and starts the journey north through an area that isn’t quite as scenic. Once you leave Napa town, a map is provided for you to follow along with the different vineyards along the way. The first course is breakfast, so come with an appetite. I made the mistake of getting a breakfast sandwich at Model Bakery, which is within walking distance of the train station. Although it is tempting since close, I recommend waiting so you don’t spoil your appetite. The breakfast course was a tasting of maple roasted bacon, an oven roasted egg with salmon roe, and a lemon mascarpone treat. I noted that they did provide dietary substitution for those with restrictions.

Your first stop on the train is the famous Napa Valley Wine sign. At this stop, we made our way to the open air car in the back. Our host poured our first wine tasting while discussing a little bit of the history. Our first selection was a Chardonnay from Raymond vineyards. Following this, we moved on to two reds also from Raymond. These are all nice bottles. Here is the link to the Raymond website for reference https://store.raymondvineyards.com/. I suppose the selections could vary dependent upon when you visit. After our tasting of three wines, we were allowed off the train to take pictures at the sign.

Back on the train, we started the journey further north on our way to Charles Krug. For this portion of the journey, lunch is served. You will be offered the choice of a beef tenderloin or salmon. I chose the tenderloin, which was presented with a potato salad and small spinach salad. I thought this was a very well prepared lunch. The portion size was rather large. During this travel time, they do provide you with a menu to order additional drinks. The options range from non-alcoholic beverages to cocktails and wine. There is a charge if you order drinks off this menu. The food, sparkling, open car tasting, and the two winery tours/tastings are all included in the price. Ordering off the menu is the only time that you could add on an additional charge.

We made our way to Charles Krug and were served a tasting of white in a small version of a plastic stemless glass. I reviewed all of the wineries visited in Napa in my post A Napa Winery Deep Dive. Essentially, I didn’t love drinking out of small plastic glasses. I will admit they were extremely practical, especially since we did a walking tour of the winery to start. The tour finished indoors with a chance to make any purchases or join as a member. I did not enjoy the wine at Krug as much as other wineries that I visited in Napa. For that reason, I would not book a future tour there outside of my trip on the wine train.

We boarded the train again for our mid afternoon snack and headed south to V. Sattui. The snack service was a ciabatta crisp with brie and local honey. At V. Sattui, our host greeted us as we stepped off the train and escorted us to one of the cellars. Here we had a seated tasting of their Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and finally the Madeira. I enjoyed this seated tasting and the wine more than that at Charles Krug. At the end of the tasting, we were allowed free time for exploring and wandering around their shop. Their upscale market had a vast selection of cheeses, gourmet snacks, wine, and gifts. It was a fun way to end the tour.

By now, it was later in the afternoon and everyone returned for dessert and the journey south to Napa. I chose the Creme Brulee for dessert and added a glass of sparkling rose off the menu for the ride. This is when fellow guests started to really get talkative. All of the people that started out the day quiet were suddenly full of chatter. The volume on the music went up and the tunes changed in genre.

A couple last thoughts for the road. Dependent upon the time of year, make sure you dress accordingly. You will spend a fair amount of time outside. Also, footwear is important. Heels are not a good choice, particularly for walking around the vineyard at Charles Krug. This also might not be the day to wear light colors. As the day progressed, I witnessed some red wine stains on light clothing.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic way to spend the day. It certainly was nice to have all of the planning done for you. All you have to do is arrive on time. If you are spending several days in Napa, this allows for some variety. Since I stayed in Napa town, the station was within walking distance of the hotel. I didn’t want to worry about transportation at the end of the day after multiple wine tastings. The wine train prices are not cheap per se. Look at different days of the week if you have flexibility. The prices definitely increase slightly on the weekends. All things considered, I did find the overall package worth the price of admission.

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