• The Napa
Wine Train was
rated as ONE OF THE 20 BEST RAIL
EXPERIENCES IN THE WORLD by The
Society of International Railway Travelers (IRT)
That distinction raises one's expectations when a trip to Napa Valley
to ride the Wine Train is planned!
The IRT call themselves, an international
organization of sophisticated travelers who prefer going by rail.
(for a sample list, go to
Even more current (2007), the Napa Valley Wine Train is
mentioned in the U.S. and Canada
edition of 1,000 Places to See
Before You die.
• Add wines of Napa Valley to the Wine Train's Gourmet Rail
and you've combined two favorites right away.
• On top of that,
Wine Tasting Tour in a vintage automobile provided by Vintage Wine Tours of
Sonoma (formerly Vintage Chrome),
and you have three favorite things in one vacation package.
• Finally, include accommodations at Bed and Breakfasts that are
of the Wine Country Inn's Association, and you have an ideal vacation.
Valley Wine Train
Napa Wine Train Station,
McKinstry Street, Napa, CA
By Carl Morrison, Carl@TrainWeb.com
Of course you can drive, or, since
this a rail website, I recommend that you take the Amtrak Coast
Starlight to Martinez, California. Catch a Napa Amtrak
motor coach to the Napa Valley Wine Train. Or, in Martinez, rent
a car. Rail Friend Andy says it's funny this time of year, during
of the harvested grapes, that people from all over the world rent cars,
usually converitables, and drive slowly through the vineyards, with the
top down rain or shine, and stop often, on the road, to take
pictures. I'll have to say I fell into that category, but I did
always stop safely off the road, or down a lane to take grape pictures.
If you take the bus, it till take you
McKinstry St Napa, CA 94559 Location: Wine Train Station Route: 7 (From Martinez to Napa)
There are two Amtrak Motor coach
stops in Napa. The original Napa stop
continues to be located at the Napa Wine Train Station, at 1275
McKinstry Street. (zip = 94559) The new stop is the VINE Transit
Center, at the corner of Pearl and Main Streets (94559). Neither
tickets, baggage, nor package express shipments are handled at these
location. The nearest station offering these services is Martinez,
where the Napa Amtrak motor coaches originate/terminate. Tickets may be
purchased from an Amtrak travel agent, over the telephone from Amtrak
at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) or over the Internet from Amtrak's
home page, http://tickets.amtrak.com.
There are telephones, parking and
a waiting area at the Napa Valley
Wine Train Station on McKinstry St. Inside the McKinstry St. station
are restrooms, Napa Valley Wine Train information, and a gift shop.
VINE is the acronym of the Valley
Intercity Neighborhood Express VINE
transit links the Napa Valley communities of American Canyon,
Calistoga, Napa, St. Helena, Vallejo and Yountville. The VINE Transit
Center is located in downtown Napa close to restaurants and shopping.
The Transit Center is where other buses stop, thus providing improved
transfer to cities served by local transit.
While there are lots of things to
see and do in Napa, including new
shops and tourist activities in the downtown, a visit to COPIA may be
worth your time. COPIA, The American Center for Wine, Food & the
Arts, is "a cultural museum and educational center dedicated to
exploring the distinctively American contribution to the character of
wine and food in close association with the arts and humanities, and to
celebrating these as a unique expression of the vitality of American
life, culture and heritage." COPIA is located at 500 First Street.
What to Do:
Of the Wine
Train, theSacramento Bee says:
Aboard the Napa Valley Wine
Train, guests enjoy elegant rail
that harkens back to an earlier era where they are served a gourmet
meal (brunch, lunch or dinner) as the train travels through picturesque
vineyards and past famous wineries. The train travels 36 miles through
the valley in about three hours. Some trips allow guests to get off and
tour a winery and taste the local vintages. Special trips also are
offered that feature wine-tasting classes, musical performances or
Much it Costs:
Fares range from $49.50 per person for a trip with food purchased
separately to $97 per person for a journey that includes wines and a
The depot is located in downtown Napa, just off Soscol and First
Daytime trips are casual, but faded or worn jeans are strongly
discouraged. Dinner trips should be treated as an elegant night out
with jackets encouraged for the men.
Melitta Station Inn is a roadside Lodging
“watering hole” across from the SP railroad spur from Vallejo out to
Santa Rosa where the line eventually merged with the interests of the
NWP railroad from Tiburon through to Eureka.
The Inn pre-dates
the arrival of the railroad in 1887. The line fell into disuse
during the Great Depression and was stripped out for scrap by 1935.
It’s main commercial purpose was the transport of basalt paving blocks
to the construction market in San Francisco. The Inn was re-modeled
from a store into its present B&B form in 1985 and has functioned
in that mode since then.
• THE HIDDEN OAK INN
-- A touch of old Sonoma. Experience the warmth of this country
home in historic Sonoma Ca - in the Valley of the Moon.
The Hidden Oak Inn, circa 1914, is an
exquisite example of a California Craftsman Bungalow. Located one block
from Sonoma’s Historic Plaza, in the prestigious eastside residential
neighborhood, take a walk back in time. The casual elegance of this
historic bed and breakfast reflects a time of serenity and
beauty. In an effort to preserve the past, the innkeepers have
added many antiques and collectibles throughout the Inn. Spacious rooms
provide a restful interlude for two after a day of wine tasting or
exploring the town. The intimate feeling of this Inn is Ideal for a
romantic getaway, a weekend away with friends, or plan a girls weekend.
Awaken to the aromas of fresh coffee and baked goods each morning. A
full breakfast is served on weekends at 9am. An expanded continental
breakfast buffet on weekdays between 8-10am. Special dietary requests
can be accommodated when made prior to arrival.
A wine tasting is offered each evening from 4-6pm and can be
the Inns lovely wisteria covered front porch or on the poolside
veranda. Complimentary wine tasting cards and maps offer the guest an
unforgettable wine country experience.
Both Inns are members of: WINE COUNTRY INNS OF SONOMA COUNTY
The Wine Country Inns are a
selection of sixteen individually owned inns in the premier
wine-growing region of Sonoma County. Although each inn has a distinct
individual style, this is a unique association with stellar shared
attributes. All the inns are owned by professional innkeepers who
practice a new art of innkeeping. The inns share similar amenities and
price points and the highest code of guest responsibility. Their
exceptional service extends to a shared website and telephone number
that allows guests to find availability at all of the inns easily. Each
of the inns must be inspected and reviewed by other innkeepers from
attic to basement, from linens to guest policies and from culinary
offerings to housekeeping before being accepted into membership in the
association. These standards ensure that all of the inns are exemplary
accommodations. The innkeeper/owners all bring business experience to
innkeeping and are passionate about the area. They excel at providing
their guest with the personalized service that even the finest hotels
would find hard to match. These inns have an aura of professionalism
much different from the old days of the bed and breakfasts where
accommodations were run by couples who liked to entertain and decorated
every surface of every room with personal knickknacks. Today’s
innkeepers are best described as a combination of general manager,
executive chef and head concierge. The rooms are beautifully and simply
decorated for comfort.
Located in the central, eastern, northern and northwestern areas
of the Sonoma County wine country, the member inns are located in the
historic towns of Cloverdale, Forestville, Geyserville, Glen Ellen,
Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Sonoma.
The inns are approximately one and a half hours from San Francisco’s
Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland International Airport and two and a
quarter hours from the Sacramento area.
Calderwood Inn, Healdsburg
Camellia Inn, Healdsburg
Case Ranch Inn, Forestville
Country Meadow Inn, Windsor
George Alexander House, Healdsburg
Glenelly Inn & Cottages, Glen Ellen
• Hidden Oak Inn, Sonoma
Hope Merrill & Bosworth Houses, Geyserville
• Melitta Station Inn, Santa Rosa
English Tea Garden Inn, Cloverdale
Raford Inn, Healdsburg
The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa
The Irish Rose Inn, Healdsburg
The Shelford House, Cloverdale
Trojan Horse Inn, Sonoma
Vintage Towers, Cloverdale
The smallest inns have 3 rooms and the largest has 12
rooms Total rooms: 96
Prices: $109 to $295 per room night
and pictures of the Melitta Station and Hidden Oak Inns, click here.)
Strizzi's - Fresh Fish, Pasta, Wood-fired Grill
We enjoyed fresh and tasty spaghetti and meatballs with local wine
in their Livermore restaurant. They have 3 - 6 p.m. Dinner
Specials which are about $2 less than dinner prices. Their menu
includes sandwiches, salads, and Family Traditional Favorites from
$11.99 to $15.99. Dinner items include pasta, raviolis, risotto,
chicken, salmon, seafood, steaks, and chops.
A picture on the menu shows Jennie L. Strizzi and her parents, Luciano
and Assunta at Luciano's Italian Deli in Greensburg, PA, about
1930. His philosophy was, "When you cook, let the freshness speak
What's Cool in the Area:
Blackhawk Museum, 3700
Blackhawk Plaza Circle • Danville, CA 94506 • 925.736.2277
displays about 90 cars, many of which are on loan from Museum friends
in many different parts of the world. Blackhawk has the most dramatic
presentation of coachbuilt cars in the world, without exception.
Cars frequently come to Blackhawk
after they have been exhibited at the
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance each August; those aficionados who did
not get to visit the premier one-day concours at Pebble Beach can enjoy
these cars at Blackhawk all year long. This concept keeps Blackhawk's
exhibition diverse and ever-changing; in recent years Museum visitors
have seen such spectacular Pebble Beach entrants. (For the full story
and pictures, click here.)
Wine Tasting Tour of
We took a unique, privately escorted tour of
Sonoma Wineries with Eric Stevens of Sonoma. Eric took us, in a
1937 Cadillac no less, to
small wineries where, in each case we met the owner as we tasted
website perfectly describes the experience we had: "Stylish, unique and
fun wine country excursions"
The wineries we visited during our wine tour were:
This trip all
started because my wife of 42 years is
a talented quilter. She learned of a quilt show in the East Bay
area in California in the town of Livermore. When I told
railfriend, Andy Smith of Pleasanton, about our trip plans he mentioned
near the "Quilts in the Garden" show we were going to was the Napa Wine
also added, knowing I like classic cars and photography, that the
Blackhawk Auto Museum was also nearby in Danville, California.
Thanks, Andy, these were excellent venues and we visited all your
Quilts in the Garden, Alden Lane Gardens, Livermore, California.
To Learn More:
Blackhawk Museum (www.blackhawkmuseum.org/)
Napa Valley Wine Train (www.winetrain.com/)
Napa Valley Wine Train - Gourmet Express Dinner Excursion - VISTA DOME APPELLATION
The Sacramento Bee
Vintage Wine Tours of Sonoma: