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Two Memories by Denise Burke

Two Memories by Denise Burke

A Feast for the Eyes and Taste Buds on the Napa Valley Wine Train

It took many years for us to realize that the Napa Valley Wine train was a phenomenal experience just a short trip from San Francisco.

My first journey had me enjoying a gourmet winter's day lunch. The gourmet lunch car with its white table cloths, fresh flowers, and fine china was just right for me. The sky was a clear blue and the air crisp. The train ambled along through bright yellow fields of mustard flowers. The blackened thriving vineyard trunks seemed to stretch their arms and reach to the sky as if relishing their well deserved winter vacation. I found the dining service combined a European flair with American friendliness. I dined on a salad with the freshest and most interesting of ingredients and enjoyed a steak tender to the touch. As we reached the St. Helena turnaround station, I was guided to the lounge car with its wood paneling and revolving chairs. I was surrounded by the hum of smiling well-fed passengers who spoke in soft tones in awe of the beauty of the wine country. The sweetness of the perfect chocolate mousse was only surpassed by the richness of the surroundings.

On my second trip this year, I was fortunate to introduce my friends to the Napa Valley Wine Train experience. We treated ourselves to a limousine and had it pick us up at each of our homes in Pacifica, Daly City, and San Francisco. During the drive up on Angelica Limousines, we giggled at our extravagance while anticipating of a fun day filled with good friends, food, and scenery.
The green lushness of the fully clad vineyards was a sharp contrast to the winter's view. Our first seating was in the lounge car. We sat in the tapestry covered booths at the end of the train car. We enjoyed easy access to the back of train car where we could bask in the same sun that was beaming on the lush vines covered with green leaves. We spotted tiny grapes underneath the elegantly shaped leaves. We laughed with our fellow passengers from Wyoming, Europe, and Japan. A little boy shared his excitement from viewing the train's kitchen car so of course we walked and wobbled along the moving train to see it too. In the lounge car, we enjoyed a gourmet appetizer. One friend ordered a specially made Ramos Fizz drink while the rest of us chose glasses of wine from the excellent and wonderfully priced wine list. Understandably, the train servers were more challenged to serve the increased numbers of summer passengers. They maintained their professionalism and the quality of the gourmet food remained excellent from the tender steak to tasty fish dishes. And as a group of women, we all admired the old-fashioned train rest-room with real towels.

My next Napa Valley Wine Train adventure will be to share a full moon winter's night dinner in the dome car or to enjoy a unique Thanksgiving dining experience. My preference for time of year is more likely to take advantage of the smaller winter crowd.

My friends and I agree, the Napa Valley Wine Train is a movable feast rolling through a living Van Gogh painting