Napa Valley Wine Train adds new train, tour

May 23, 2016
The Press Democrat
Cynthia Sweeney, Business Journal Staff Reporter

For the first time in its 27-year history the iconic Napa Valley Wine Train will make stops along its route, allowing guests to spend time tasting at four wineries. The new six-hour Quattro Vino tour will make stops at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, and the Charles Krug, Merryvale and V. Sattui Wineries in St. Helena. “We’re offering something that’s never been done here. The Italian wineries give a nod to the heritage in Napa Valley, and it’s a little nostalgic,” said Elizabeth Grillos, spokeswoman for Noble House Hotels & Resorts, owners of the train. “And people don’t have to worry about driving and parking.”

Since purchasing the train last year, Noble House purchased a 36-seat Pullman railcar for the new tour. A Seattle-based design firm updated the historic car while still keeping its classic style. A second 1920s Pullman topless car will also be added to the tour in July or August, and the regular train will receive upgrades in 2017.

The Wine Train was founded by the late Rice-a-Roni mogul Vincent DeDomenico, and last fall his family sold the Napa institution to a partnership of Seattle-based Noble House Hotels & Resorts and Brooks Street, a real estate development and investment company with an office in Walnut Creek. In the Bay Area, Noble House also manages River Terrace Inn in Napa, and the Argonaut Hotel and The Tuscan, both in San Francisco. More than 100,000 people ride the Wine Train each year. It can hold about 370 people for each three-hour-long journey from Napa to St. Helena, and tickets start at about $124 each.

The Quattro Tour will run daily on separate tracks from the regular three-hour tour train and will be limited to 32 passengers. Tickets are $249, including food, and the new tours will run from 10 am to 4 pm beginning June 1. “We are incredibly excited to launch the Quattro Vino Tour as a new Napa Valley Wine Train offering,” said Pat Colee, Chairman and Founder of Noble House Hotels & Resorts. “Not only is this the first time that we’ve been able to transport guests to the world renowned Charles Krug Winery, but it also marks the unveiling of Chef Donald Young’s first new menu and the first rides on our restyled railcar. The Napa Valley Wine Train is a unique way to enjoy a premier dining and tasting tour through Wine Country—without driving.”

The railroad line was built and operated by Samuel Brannan in 1864 as a tourist railroad to take visitors from San Franciscans to Calistoga after arriving in South Napa by ferry. The tracks run adjacent to many wineries along its route. “We couldn’t be more excited about this new tour. Charles Krug and the Napa Valley Wine Train share a common history. Our winery was founded in 1861, and for many years the train provided regular passenger service to Napa Valley communities,” said Aura Bland, the Vice President of Direct to Consumer Sales for Charles Krug. “We can’t wait to see the train pull into our winery and watch guests step off the train and walk into our tasting room, which pays tribute to our unique history. This is truly going to be a one-of-a-kind experience.”

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