For many years, I’ve had “take a ride the Napa Valley Wine Train” on my list of fun things I want to do in Wine Country. So when Napa Valley Wine Train asked me if I wanted to ride the rails and experience one of their new Quattro Vino Tours, my answer was an immediate yes!
The new Quattro Vino Tours, which began service earlier this summer, are elegant six-hour rail journeys through the Napa Valley. They each include winery tours and tastings at three well-known Napa Valley wineries, a delicious four-course meal, all in a luxuriously appointed rail car. There are three different Quattro Vino Tours. We experienced The Collective Tour.
Bill and I arrived at the Napa Valley Wine Train station, located in the city of Napa, around 9:45 am. Our train would be boarding at 10:00 and and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to get our tickets and see the station.
Our check-in experience was easy, fast and friendly. There were plenty of places for passengers to relax before they boarded their train. Food, coffee and tea and, of course, wine were all readily available for purchase. The station also has its own wine shop – Napa Valley Wine Store – which carries a large collection of California wines – 80% are from Napa Valley.
Soon the loudspeaker let us know that it was time to board the train. We headed to the platform where we got our first glimpse of the train we’d be riding in: a beautiful restored rail car, painted burgundy and white and pulled by a locomotive.
On the footbridge that connects the station to the train’s boarding platform, there are hundreds of colorful little padlocks that have been locked to the bridge’s fences. The Love Lock Bridge is dedicated to lovers all over the globe. Visitors are welcome to bring their decorated padlock and lock it to the fence.
Bill and I didn’t know about The Love Lock Bridge beforehand. Next time we’re in Napa, we will bring a padlock, decorated with our initials, and affix it to the bridge.
Once our tickets were torn, it was time to climb on board! It was a warm and overcast day in Napa with a strong chance that the sun would come out. I wore my new black A-line dress from J. Jill – which has side pockets – and ankle tie block-heel sandals. For accessories, I wore a Panama hat from Montecristi Panama Hats of Napa Valley and the new geode necklace I bought in San Luis Obispo last month. For an extra dose of white, I carried my Armadio bamboo handle bag. It’s been my go-to bag all summer.
We had an assigned table on the Wine Train. Our host led us to our white marble-topped table then served us each a glass of Domain Chandon sparkling wine.
There is a kitchen as well as a full bar on board the train.
Soon we were traveling through the city of Napa, on our way to our first stop in Napa Valley.
Shortly after we began our trip, breakfast was served. Our pretty morning meal included a mason jar filled with white cheddar grits and topped with a poached egg, spring onion hollandaise sauce and a crispy slice of thick brown sugar cured bacon. We also had a Greek yogurt smoothie with fresh berries and a sour cream and cinnamon muffin.
There were two groups of passengers on our rail car. Our Collective Quattro Vino Tour had a group of about 14 people. The other passengers on the train were experiencing the Legacy Quattro Vino Tour. They walked directly to their first winery stop, Robert Mondavi Winery, and we boarded a luxury shuttle that took us to ours.
On our short walk to the van, we were able to get up close to the vines and snap a few photos.
Soon our van arrived at St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, which is owned by French fashion brand, Chanel. St. Supéry Estate is 100% estate grown and sustainably farmed winery.
The moment we disembarked, we were handed a glass of St. Supéry rosé by our friendly host who took us on our private tour. We visited their test vineyard first. I enjoyed learning about grape leaves and their shapes and textures, also known as Ampelography. It’s something I’ve not thought about much and now I am fascinated with the many differences in leaf shapes and characteristics among grape varietals.
After our tour of the test vineyard, we went inside the winery, which has a definite European chic style.
Our host led us through a seated tasting of three of their wines. I fell in love with their 2016 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and the 2016 Napa Valley Estate Rosé we were greeted with. We bought a couple of bottles of each after our tasting concluded.
Wine in hand, we took a few photos in front of the ivy-covered building, then back to the train we went!
Once everyone was aboard, we were off again to our next destination. But first, lunch!
Bill ordered the rosemary-garlic marinated grilled flat iron steak with arugula pesto, feta cheese and sundried tomato farrow.
And I had the honey-fennel cracked mustard glazed salmon with asparagus, bacon, fingerling potatoes and shallots – my dish was cooked to perfection!
We enjoyed our delicious meal while taking in the views outside our train car window.
Once we were full and satisfied, we hopped on the shuttle again, this time to Beringer Vineyards, one of the most stunning and recognizable wineries in Napa Valley.
We met our tour guide who poured us each a glass of Beringer Chardonnay. We then climbed a staircase through a lush garden to their vineyard demonstration area.
Our guide told us about the history of the winery – one of Napa Valley’s oldest – and about the different soils found in their vineyards.
She then led us on a historical tour inside to the winery’s tunnels where we saw winemaking relics, very old wine barrels and bottles of wine and tasted a few more Beringer wines.
The tour concluded in their spacious tasting room and gift shop, filled with enticing goodies!
Once back on the train, we were served a palate cleanser with infused refresher water and a sweet and salty cookie.
Our final winery stop was Raymond Vineyards. I have wanted to visit Raymond for many years and was excited to finally see what this much talked about winery was all about.
We began our tour in the Theater of Nature, a two-acre educational exhibit. Our guide began by telling us about Raymond’s biodynamic farming practices. I am familiar with biodynamic farming and was surprised to learn Raymond was certified for this type of farming.
Next to the Biodynamic Herbarium, we visited Frenchie Winery, named after the proprietor’s furry buddy, Frenchie, and made just for dogs! You can leave your furry friend in one of several luxurious pens while you taste wines.
We also visited farm animals like this friendly and hungry goat and we plucked a few cherry tomatoes from their robust garden for ourselves.
After our tour of the Theater of Nature, our tour guide led us into the winery’s barrel and tank rooms. I think it’s safe to say that our group was not expecting the change in decor! The outside of the winery is much, much different than the inside.
Chandeliers, scantily clad mannequins, neon lights, and even a taxidermy lion with a rose in his mouth are just a few of the interesting and colorful things we saw during our visit to Raymond.
We also visited Raymond’s Corridor of Senses where you can experience colors, touch and smells of wine. I love scents so I had to sniff every last one!
On our way out, I had to ask Bill for a quick photo on the plastic chair and ottoman set on the front lawn. I could have lingered longer but we had places to go and more food to eat!
We boarded for the final leg of our journey. Soon we’d be back at the train station. I had such fun meeting our fellow passengers. There were visitors from New York, Florida and as far away as Sweden in our small group.
What a surprise to be treated to not one, but two desserts! First, we were served a hazelnut frangipane tart with strawberry gastrique.
Then, in European fashion, we ended our gastronomic adventure with cheese! We were served a delectable wedge of Marin County triple cream brie which was set upon a balsamic fig glaze. It was the perfect way to conclude our fabulous Wine Train journey.
What a phenomenal day we had! Indulgent, elegant, fun, lively, interesting, educational and delicious are just some of the words that come to mind when describing our Quattro Vino Tour experience.
Bill and I both agree the tour far exceeded our expectations with its friendly, professional and helpful staff, wonderful freshly prepared gourmet cuisine, luxurious and plush decor, and unique tasting experiences.
Our three winery tours each offered something beyond the everyday tour: Visiting a test vineyard at St. Supéry, touring historic caves at Beringer, and concluding our experience with the unforgettable Raymond Vineyards. It was a such a delight!
I am thrilled to be riding the Wine Train again later this week! Rock the Rails, a new music series benefitting the Rail Arts District (RAD) Napa Valley, will kick off this Thursday, August 24th.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will be performing at V Sattui Winery. The evening includes train transportation to the concert on a restored rail cars, a multi-course meal paired with Napa Valley wines, and the concert. Tickets are available here.
Future Rock the Rail events include Sheila E on September 21st at Grgich Hills Estate, and David Pack’s Legends Live on October 5th at Charles Krug Winery.
Napa Valley Wine Train’s station is located at 1275 McKinstry Street in Napa. Call (707) 253-2111 for more information or to book your trip or visit their website.
Disclosure: Our tickets for the Quattro Vino Tour were given to me in exchange for social media and blog posts. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.