NAPA, Calif., August 29, 2017 – The Napa Valley Wine Train is not new. It’s been around since the late 1980s. But they do have a new offering called Rock the Rails.
As the name suggests, rock n’ roll is at the center of this new train experience. Think of a perfect combination of wine, Napa Valley scenery, wine country cuisine, iconic Napa Valley wineries and live music. The Wine Train has tapped into the growing musical heartbeat of Napa Valley with this new experience.
The idea of rock n’ roll and Napa Valley being spoken in the same sentence isn’t new either. However, it has certainly picked up speed with the addition of BottleRock Napa Valley five years ago.
Now Napa is a true musical destination complete with a handful of serious music venues such as The Uptown Theatre, The Napa Valley Opera House, The Lincoln Theatre, and relative newcomer The Blue Note. Add that wineries such as Robert Mondavi have hosted outdoor live music since 1969, and Napa Valley is truly a music lover’s dream destination.
The Napa Valley Wine Train has a rich history that dates back to 1915. The cars on the Wine Train have been perfectly restored from the Pullman Standard Company cars that were originally first class coaches for the Northern Pacific Railway.
At the time, they were the very best in technological advancement at the time, and were built entirely out of steel. The Napa Valley Wine Train purchased the cars in 1987, and thus began their extensive restoration project.
Great effort was spent to ensure that the trains evoked the vibrant spirit of rail travel at the beginning of the twentieth century and they did a magnificent job. Each car possesses its own unique features that celebrate the passion and beginnings of luxury rail travel.
For instance, The Champagne Car features a vista dome and large viewing windows from the second story. This provides unparalleled and unobstructed views of the entire Napa Valley. Guest enjoy a seated, white table-clothed dinner with wine pairing while basking in the Napa sun peeking through the windows, and staring out at the mountains, vineyards and wineries of Napa as you head up valley.
Guests board the Napa Valley Wine Train from downtown Napa, very near to the popular Oxbow Market. Once aboard, you are welcomed with a glass of local sparkling, Domaine Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine. An appetizer of local artisan cheeses, charcuterie and various spreads awaits you as you take your seat along the massive and revealing windows.
Click-clack goes the train as it travels on the rails. Swirl, sniff sip and swish goes the wine into your mouth. The energy level of the crowd is high in anticipation of the wine, meal and ultimately the concert featuring Big Bad Voodoo Daddies.
The next course is brought. Choices have included Pan Seared Pacific Halibut, Garlic & Herb Roasted Chicken, Cabernet Braised Short Rib of Beef and Gemelli Pasta. The halibut we’ve had was absolutely fantastic. It is hard to believe that for how moist, fresh and delicious the dish was, that it was prepared in their tiny, but obviously well equipped kitchen.
The only suggestion would be to improve the wine list in future events. The Wine Train is in Napa Valley after all. The wine list should be reflective of the varietals and high quality this region is known for. Insider tip: The Wine Train offers a corkage fee of only $15. Bring your own and really enjoy yourselves.
After dinner the train arrives at the winery. Rock the Rails will visit many of the iconic wineries of the Napa Valley including, Grgich Hills, Charles Krug and V. Sattui. These outdoor music venues are unbeatable. Rows upon rows of vineyards are surrounded by mountains, and if you’re lucky, a perfect tangerine cotton candy sunset sky as well.
During our excursion, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy put on a fabulous show. By midway through their 90 minute set, everyone was up out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. They played many of their fan favorite tunes such as You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 and Go Daddy O, but also paid tribute to such jazz and swing greats as Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan.
The wine was flowin’, the band was thumpin’ and the guests were swingin’. Once the show finished, guests were boarded back on the Wine Train to enjoy dessert and one more glass of wine to wash down all the fun of the evening.
Rock the Rails is just warming up. Future concert features include Sheila E. and David Pack’s Legends (Ambrosia, Kansas, The Romantics). Tickets need to be purchased in advance and can be found on the Napa Valley Wine Train’s website. Ticket prices range from $349 for VVIP to $99 for lounge admission.