I’m not sure if there’s anything better than a nice glass of wine and a lovely meal. Oh wait, there is – having that wine and meal while on the Napa Valley Wine Train traveling through the gorgeous wine country. I have only read about the famous food and wine tour of Argentina. Better than that? Yes, and having Ryan Gosling as your sommelier, but let’s not get carried away.
Recently I was lucky enough to be a guest on the Napa Valley Wine Train. For any of you unfamiliar with this iconic attraction, it’s a three-hour trip – via gorgeously restored vintage rail cars – through the beautiful Napa Valley. While traveling you’re served a gourmet lunch (or dinner) and wine from the local wineries. If you’re fortunate like we were, your wait person will have extensive knowledge of the surrounding region and can give you a quick education on the various vintages – this was pretty helpful for a wine novice like me.
You would think that with everything going on – The train! The scenery! The wine! – the food would take a backseat, but you would be mistaken. Their menu is first-rate, and I was impressed to learn that they are committed to using sustainable foods in all their dishes. I had their excellent Coriander Breast of Chicken with Baby Arugula that was in a light peppercorn sauce – a very generous portion that I could barely finish (especially since I wanted to save some room for the desserts that I’d heard everyone buzzing about.) For my wine choice, I went with their suggested pairing, a 2008 Romililly Pinot Noir that was the perfect accompaniment to my meal.
(I should note that wine is not included in the price of your meal, but their prices are fairly reasonable. The wines in their suggested pairings that day were priced from $9 to $15 per glass.)
Dessert on the Napa Valley Wine Train is an experience in itself – you change cars for the return trip, where you’re given a choice of a few very tempting and unbelievably rich-sounding dessert dishes. In spite of it being one of the safer and more predictable choices, I ordered the Crème Brulée since I’d been craving it for days. I’m glad I did – deliciously caramelized and topped with a few fresh blueberries, it was the absolute best way to end our journey on the Wine Train.
I’ve been to Napa only a handful of times, and this time was the first with my teenage daughters. I wasn’t quite sure if the Wine Train would be an appropriate activity for them, but they enjoyed it and I was glad to find something we could do as a family. My older daughter’s favorite part? Getting an entire teapot to herself on the dessert train. Although she did mention she would have loved it even more if Ryan Gosling had served it to her.
Napa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA 94559
When she’s not riding the rails with a nice pinot noir, Marsha can be found at Sweatpantsmom.com
Photos: Marsha Takeda-Morrison