Are you heading to the Napa Valley or is it on your must-travel list? If you love wine, then Napa needs to be added to the top of your list! Located just about an hour to an hour and a half outside of San Francisco (depending on time of day/traffic), it is an easy destination to get to. Recently Jake and I visited Napa for his pre-graduation trip and it was seriously one of our favorite vacations we have been on. Not only is there gorgeous scenery everywhere you look, but the wine is fantastic. Jake and I are both winos, so this had been on the top of our travel list for a while. Napa is a perfect romantic couple destination and we wanted to cross it off of our list before we have kids. One of the highlights of our trip was doing the Napa Valley Wine Train. It was highly recommended, and it lived up to the hype. Anytime I did research on Napa, the wine train came up as a must-do activity. My cousins had also done it and highly recommended it. I will share a full guide to Napa soon, but for now I wanted to share our first full day exploring Napa on the wine train.
The wine train offers many different options, ranging from simply a scenic meal on board the gorgeous antique train to stops at their partner wineries for tours and tastings. Most of the trains feature a lunch in the dining cars, but they also offer dinners, too. We chose the Castle Winery Tour and lunch.
What To Wear:
When I was planning for our Napa vacation, I knew this beautiful wrap dress would be perfect for our vacation. I picked it for the wine train because it was easy to move around in and is comfortable. It Is also lightweight and flowy, so it was perfect for the nice weather. When I booked the wine train, I received an email with more details and guests are encouraged to dress up in honor of the occasion. They recommend comfortable shoes, so these wedges were perfect and I brought a pair of extra shoes just in case. Use code abyersguide20 for 20% off of this dress.
Castle Winery Schedule:
- 10:50AM | Boarding Begins- When we boarded the beautiful antique wine train, we were pretty quickly greeted with a welcome wine choice of merlot or chardonnay. Jake and I are both mostly red wine drinkers and enjoyed the merlot.
- 11:30AM | Train Departs. Lunch Begins.
- 1:00PM | Transfer from Train to Motorcoach (due to the winery being out a bit, we were transported by a motorcoach from the train).
- 1:30PM | Arrive at Castello di Amorosa for Two Hour Tour and Tasting
- 3:30PM | Depart Castello di Amorosa
- 4:00PM | Arrive at Wine Train Station
The wine train is pretty much an all day event. We noticed that most wineries stopped doing tastings after 4 or 5 p.m., so we decided to do the wine train on Friday of our trip (we stayed Thursday night through Sunday morning in Napa).
About The Meal:
Soon after boarding, our lunch order was taken. We were given several options for the entree and were served 3 courses (a choice soup or salad, entree and dessert). Jake and I were both impressed to find out we got to pick our main entree from several options. We had expected maybe 2 options. There was a salmon, chicken, beef, pork, and vegetarian option. Jake and I both chose the beef tenderloin and thought it was excellent. We knew that the wine country is known for good food, but didn’t know what to expect with the wine train. The portions were also quite generous, so we felt like we got our money’s worth. Jake and I both get hungry early for dinner and this meal definitely tided us over for a while. Everything from the salad to the entree to the dessert was all excellent. The service was also good too.
About the Castle Winery Tour:
As you eat your meal, you are traveling northbound through the Napa Valley. The view is gorgeous and I loved that you got to see so much of the valley. After lunch and once you are up the valley, for our tour we were transferred from the train and boarded a private shuttle to Castello di Amorosa. According to The Napa Valley Wine Train, “Rising above the hills in the Napa Valley is Castello di Amorosa, which translates to the “castle of love” in Italian. Castello di Amorosa is an authentically-styled, 13th century Tuscan castle winery replete with high walls and five defensive towers and more than 30 acres of estate vineyards. It was built over a 15-year period by Dario Sattui, a fourth generation winemaker and owner of V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, California.”
Jake and I were very impressed with the tour and tasting. The winery is absolutely gorgeous and seems like something you would find in Europe. The tour started in a beautiful private dining room and we were quickly taken in the catacombs where the wine is stored and made. It was interesting learning about the winemaking process and hearing suggestions on storage. After a tour of the gorgeous property, we got to taste wines. Out of all of our winery tours, this one you got to taste the most (about 9 or 10 generous sized pours, compared to 4 at most other places). The tour guide gave us several options to try; for each pour, you were given 3 different wine options and got to pick one. It was nice going as a couple because Jake and I shared the wines so we could try more. We got to try some unique wines and enjoyed them all. The wine is only available for purchase at the winery, so it was pretty special we got to try it. We could definitely tell the wines were high quality.
Is it worth it?
Although this is a pricy experience, I do think it’s worth it, especially if you’ve never been to Napa. You get to see an incredible view, eat delicious food and tour a gorgeous winery. I was a little hesitant to book this tour because of the time commitment and the price, but I am very glad we experienced it.
After reviewing their website I noticed if you go midweek and book Online & Ride anytime through June 30, 2018 you can save SAVE 20% on your Midweek Gourmet Express Lunch or Sunday Dinner Journey. Use code: BLOOM20. We were not there midweek, but I would highly recommend doing that if you are.
I hope you enjoyed getting to hear about our Napa Valley Wine Train experience! Jake actually graduated on Saturday (you may have seen on Instagram or remember me mentioning it last week). We spent the weekend celebrating, so I decided to delay this post. We will be moving on June 2nd, so we have been busy enjoying our limited time together before his residency program starts. Right now my goal is to post a blog post once a week on Thursdays until Jake starts residency. I am hoping to be able to do more if I can. Stay tuned for more on Napa and San Francisco, and I will be sharing some fashion posts soon too.