Wine is something that had fascinated the both of us. But before I became a food blogger, I was as ignorant about wines as one could get. But after I passed my WSET level 1, my interest in wines took off. Accompanied by Snigdha, I tried out quite a few wines in the plethora of food reviews that I do. Wine paired dinners were followed by winery visits as we both explored the nooks and crannies for the wine world. But we reserved our best with the Napa Valley wine train.
What is the Napa Valley wine train?
The Napa Valley is a premier wine growing region in the western coast of United States of America. One of the famous wine regions in the world, the Napa Valley is known for production of Cabarnet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Zifandel. The Napa Valley wine train was first built in the mid 19th century by Samuel Brannan. The rail line have since been restored as a tourist destination. But it’s the train that you will fall in love with. The coaches of the train are from early 20th century when they were made by Pullman Standard Company for the Northern Pacific Limited. These have been restored with mahogany paneling and velvet upholstered chairs. It transports you to a time when rail travel was in it’s infancy.
How to get there?
Staying in San Francisco with our friends meant that it was a ferry ride away. We took the Ferry Connection which transports us to the Napa Valley very easily for $50 per person. The Ferry Connection starts at San Francisco harbour in the morning before docking in Vallejo. From Vallejo, a bus transports you to the Wine Train station which is about an hour’s drive away. We got our Foreign Exchange from Thomas Cook.
The Castle Winery Tour
If you have been reading our blog, you will have realised how much I love medieval European castles. We couldn’t find anything similar in America so the Castle Winery Tour was perfect for us. Boarding of the train starts with orders for meals. In the gourmet compartment, we were seated by an Australian couple on their honeymoon, Phil and Susan. The salad and the seared Tenderloin makes for a perfect meal along with a Cabarnet Sauvignon that we tried. The train rustled past lush fields of grapevines as the Napa Valley sped by in our windows. You can also have your meals in the Vista Dome which is a domed coach with a personalised dining space.
The varied landscape of the Napa valley is so exotic that we could hardly concentrate on the food. There are vineyards filled with colours of green besotted by purple. The warm yellow sun beats down on this temperate land to throw beautiful hues of shadows. We both try out a customary trip of the train. The use of mahogany in all it’s glory is a sight to preserve. The sun reflects off the polished wood to make it shine even more. But the best moment is sitting on the velvet armchairs sipping a glass of wine while the world goes by
Castello di Amorosa
Our train reached the St. Helena station from where we boarded another bus to go the Castello di Amorosa. Although the train takes you back two centuries, the castle does so for another five centuries. As you climb the steps of Castello di Amorosa, the rough hewn walls transport us back to the castles of medieval Europe. Out tour guide, Rafael starts off with the wine process lesson which I pretty much zone out of as I cannot stop admiring the stunning architecture. The heady mix of the Cab Sauv and medieval European architecture was pretty much getting to me.
The winery tour takes us through the picturesque vineyards and beautifully vaulted wooden wine caves. The smell of wood is something that I still remember. Rafael then handed us to the sommelier who made us taste the best of Napa valley’s produce which includes the complex flavours of Cabarnet Sauvignon and buttery texture of Oaked Chardonnay. I had a blissful smile on my face on our way back to the train followed by a bus back to our ferry. With rosy cheeks and a content belly combined with the alcohol, I moved onto a peaceful sleep. Snigdha couldn’t help but plant a big kiss on my angelic smile 😉
All pictures are courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train
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