Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Article courtesy Joseph Cillo
Photos courtesy Mary Buttaro

click on image to enlarge

California's Napa Valley -
world renowned for its wines and culinary treasures.

Also a multi-dimensional destination where visitors can experience: wonderful scenery - rivers, lakes, mountains, vineyards - outstanding recreation - biking, birding, hiking, walking, climbing, kayaking, railing, shopping, culture and entertainment, history walks, theatre, musical festivals, art galleries, parks, antiques, stimulating people interaction, vintners, innkeepers, wine makers, shopkeepers, food purveyors, tour guides.

Here's how we spent two Napa discovery days via train, bike and foot - organized by the Napa Wine Train.

Day 1: we drive to Napa Valley, but, you can take San Francisco BayLink ferry to Vallejo and connect to Wine Train coach. go

10 am Arrive Napa Valley Wine Train station room go orientation, welcome reception and breakfast buffet.

10:30 am - 2:30 pm Napa Valley Wine Train go Ride, appetizers and lunch. The train ride (36 miles round trip between Napa and St. Helena) moves slowly through the vineyards. Travelling leisurely in a restored vintage lounge car, sparkling wine in hand, we can see the "bud break" in the vineyards - we were that close to the vines. Toured various cars: dining, bar, vista dome, kitchen. Indulged in lunch - exquisite cuisine paired with limited production wines. Food prepared on board, to order, was fresh, creative and is seasonally changed by Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald. The staff, skilled at "Locust service", delivered 120 plates in 15-20 minutes.

Special Events & Unique Activities - for all ages - make time on the train special. Consider one of these - Vintner Lunch, Family Date Nite, Varietal Voyage, Santa Train, Murder Mystery and Dinner, Moonlight Escape, New Year's Eve Train - for your own getaway. photos

3-5 pm Check into The Westin Verasa Napa resort. go This 4 star hotel, with a Michelin Star dining room - La Toque - also rated "Best Restaurant in America" by Wine Spectator - is located to maximize a Napa Valley visit - within easy walk to Oxbow Market, Wine Train, historic downtown and the Riverwalk. 180 rooms - mostly suites. Guests are able to relax, revive and renew in a plush oasis with a serene, elegant ambiance. We swam/refreshed in the pool, relaxed in the hot tub and luxuriated with drinks/refreshments at the pool side patio on the bank of the river.

5-7 pm Wine Social on Napa River at Napa General Store go The General Store patio backs up into the Riverwalk, the old Napa Mill and the heritage waterfront of Napa's naissance. We socialized with Napa residents, business owners and visitors while tasting wines from Napa's Ahnfeldt Wines. This area is bustling with renovation projects restoring historic structures for reuse and development of new shops and housing with river views. Took a fun short ride in a NV Hoppers Rickshaw go an innovative ride for two - useful for shopping or wine tasting - when "car free" is preferred. photos

7-10 pm Stroll to Oxbow Public Market go for Tuesday “Local's Night" Clued about this event and invited to join in, we headed for the Oxbow Public Market for the live music, specially priced food options, wine, cheese, chocolate, tea and coffee tasting. Combining food and wine culture, Oxbow features a luscious cheese shop and the worlds smallest winery (actually a micro winery): Folio Enoteca - a measly 84 sq. ft. The fresh baked bread aroma was hard to ignore. Newest addition to the Oxbow lineup is Kara's Kupcakes. Taylor's Refresher, a cult burger stand anchors the front corner. Hog Island Oyster Company - succulent product for $1.00 a pop. Casual menus abounded. Oxbow, constantly changing and growing, was alive and exciting. photos

stay: The Westin Verasa Napa go night swim/refresh in pool/hot tub photos


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