The Napa Wine Train Gets a Haute Makeover

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The inside of the refurbished vintage train car
The inside of the refurbished vintage train car

Countless times we’ve been wine tasting and watched the Napa Wine Train cruise by the vineyards and wonder, “what is it like to ride that train?” We never got up the courage to experience it—simply because it’s too touristy. Who wants to ride an old train to one winery? That’s not the way savvy locals do Napa! However, in the past couple of months, the Napa Wine Train has undergone an excited and luxurious overhaul. The train was purchased a year ago by Noble House Hotels and Resorts and since then, all sorts of noticeable changes have been made to the services of the Napa Wine Train.

The exterior of the new Napa Wine Train
The exterior of the new Napa Wine Train

First, the brand added a stylishly renovated 36-seat Pullman railcar to the line up. Seattle-based design firm Mallet transformed the interior of the car with navy velvet, saddle leather, and chic live plants. It’s hip and modern, but also maintains a sense of historical accuracy. It’s clear the train is vintage and yet, with flat screen televisions and a sleek bar, it’s incredibly contemporary. Next, they hired a young new chef, Donald Young, to take the quality of cuisine to a more gourmet level. That’s when Noble House’s chief creative officer, Scott Collee, had a genius idea to create a tour that would allow passengers to get on and off the train while visiting a series of wineries along the way. “Once we purchased the Napa Valley Wine Train we received a lot of feedback from previous and potential riders asking to create an experience that allows guests to get on and off the train,” Collee explained. “We also received many requests from nearby wineries as they wanted to participate more with us as well so, we created the Quattro Vino tour. This is the first time the train has offered anything like this and we are so pleased with the excitement and success of this new experience.”

A soup and salad course awaits passengers on the train
A soup and salad course awaits passengers on the train

The Quattro Vino tour debuted in early June and after taking one of the inaugural tours, we can honestly say, it’s the best new tasting experience in wine country. The train leaves at 10:15 a.m. and passengers are greeted with the first course of their four-course meal—a trio of sweet and savory breakfast items. At 10:50 a.m., the train arrives at the first winery, Robert Mondavi, where a staff member is waiting (with wine glasses!) to meet passengers. Train goers are given an exclusive tour and tasting of the winery, then it’s back to the train where the second course of the meal awaits. The experience continues, gloriously repeating itself, with a winery visit, followed by another course of food for the next five hours. The four wineries that are visited—Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug Winery, Merryvale Vineyards, and V. Sattui Winery—all have a rich Italian heritage, which is why the tour is called Quattro Vinos. “For this first experience we partnered with four wineries located along the historic train tracks,” Collee said. “These wineries are in prime locations and it makes for a very seamless experience for our guests as they got off the train they are already on the winery’s property.” Take it from us: there is no other winery tour like this—one that offers a delicious meal, transportation, and vineyard visits all under a blanket price—it’s quite a remarkable deal.

The train stops at Charles Krug Winery, the oldest winery in Napa
The train stops at Charles Krug Winery, the oldest winery in Napa

The Quattro Vinos tour has been going so well that Noble House has just announced another thrilling new dining option. Beginning on August 26 is Private Reserve, a monthly supper club that features the specific wines of one renowned winery. Up first is Raymond Vineyards. Jean-Charles Boisset will be on the train interacting with the diners and he’s also working with chef Young to create the ideal menu to pair with Raymond’s wines. Kathryn Walt Hall, of Hall Wines, is hosting the second Private Reserve train ride on October 1. The meal begins with a sunset departure at 6 p.m. and diners arrive back at the station four hours later. What are you waiting for? Reserve your ticket now.

Not your average train food: seared halibut with fava, lentil, and white bean saffron ragout
Not your average train food: seared halibut with fava, lentil, and white bean saffron ragout
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