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Frequently Asked Questions
- Why would I want to ride the Wine Train for Dinner if I can't see anything?
Sunset Times 2013
Date Sunset Time January 1st 5:02 pm Febuary1st 5:34 pm March 1st 6:04 pm April 1st 7:33 pm May 1st 8:00 pm June 1st 8:26 pm July 1st 8:35 pm August 1st 8:18 pm September 1st 7:38 pm October 1st 6:52 pm November 1st 6:11 pm December 1st
When you ride the Wine Train for dinner, part of your trip will be dark. Depending on the time of year however, a significant portion of your trip may take place during "Magic Hour," the hour just before sunset. At this time of day the entire valley glows. Mountains glow yellow, clouds glow pink, and young grape leaves glow a golden green color. It is during this time that the Napa Valley is at its most beautiful, and most romantic.
And while the beauty of the scenery gradually fades after sunset, darkness has a way of making the train even more romantic.
While it will be dark for the entire journey in December, the Wine Train is a fun way to see some of the Valley's holiday illumination.
If you plan to ride to Wine Train to see and experience as much of the Napa Valley as possible, come for lunch, and consider reserving our Ambassador Winery Tour. If you are hoping for a more private experience, or want to dress up, you might have a better time riding the Wine Train for dinner.
- Can I bring an animal on board the train?
Per state law animals are not allowed on board the Napa Valley Wine Train, with the exception of service animals. If you have a service animal, please consult our FAQ on service animals.
- Is the Napa Valley Wine Train Wheelchair Accessible?
Yes, the Napa Valley Wine Train is Wheelchair Accessible, but Napa Valley Wine Train is an antique train, and as such there are some unique challenges that persons with mobility restrictions should be aware of.
- It is a few hundred feet from the Handicapped Parking spaces to the Front Desk.
- Boarding the train requires passengers to climb some rather steep stairs (photo of the stairs). The tallest of these steps is 9.5 inches tall. The steps are slightly recessed, which some guests find challenging. There are both right and left handrails. Passengers unable to climb stairs can board the train via a manual lift that we have (photo of manual lift #1) (photo of manual lift #2).
- If you require a wheelchair, we strongly recommend that you use our transfer chair (photo of our transfer chair), since this is the only wheelchair that we are confident will fit in the train. We cannot guarantee that personal wheelchairs will fit on board.
- The Gourmet Car and Silverado Car are both accessible with our transfer chair.
- There is no way to access the Vista Dome car without climbing stairs. Inside the dome car there are seven steps, each 8 inches tall. There is a handrail on the right side only.
- Moving in a wheelchair while the train is in motion is difficult, and guests who require a wheelchair should move only when advised to do so by our staff.
- If a guest with a mobility restriction wishes to move about the train, they must be assisted by a member of their party.
- At this time we cannot accommodate guests with mobility restrictions on any of our tours.
- The restrooms on board the train are not wheelchair accessible. You will need to be able to get out of your chair in order to use the restrooms.
Despite the unique challenges presented by our historic train, many guests with mobility restrictions ride the Napa Valley Wine Train. If you have specific needs or concerns, please contact us by phone at +18004274124
- It is a few hundred feet from the Handicapped Parking spaces to the Front Desk.
- What are your Terms and Conditions?
- When is the best time to experience the train?
Lunch trains are great for guests interested in winery tours, and are fantastic in the winter and spring. Dinner trains are amazing during the summer and early fall because the sun sets mid-journey, which is stunning.
- Do you really have a Kitchen Car and can we see it?
At the Napa Valley Wine Train, we pride ourselves on the quality of our food. Our executive chef, Kelly Mcdonald, buys only fresh, local produce, line caught fish, and humanely raised meats. All of our entrees are prepared on board, and guests are more than welcome to observe our kitchen car in action.
- Is there an extra charge for the Wine Tasting Car?
Wine lovers may wish to visit our wine tasting car, have our wine expert pour a sample of Napa's more famous wines, or let them help you discover new favorites. $10 buys four selections, but no purchase is necessary for the advice and stories that our wine expert can provide.
- What does "Seated with others" or "Fill-in Seating" mean?
Seating is limited in many of our special events due to their popularity. Thus, in keeping with railroad tradition, parties of two might be combined to sit together at a table of four. When seated with another couple, you and your guest will be seated on the same side of the table. Parties of four will always be seated at the same table. We seat parties together for special events such as Murder Mystery, Vintners Lunch, Appellation Dinner, Varietal Voyages and Winery Tours.
- Can we bring on our own wine?
Yes, we do recognize that many people have a special wines that they want to have for their 'special occasion' and the Napa Valley Wine Train charges a Corkage fee of $15.00 per 750ml bottle and $30 for a Magnum sized bottle. If you bring one bottle of wine on board and buy a bottle on board, we'll waive the corkage for that bottle.
At the Wine Train, we have a wine shop with almost 500 kinds of wine available for purchase and we have an extensive onboard wine list with approximately 100 kinds of wine.
- How long has the Napa Valley Wine Train been operating?
The Napa Valley Wine Train began gourmet-dining service September 16, 1989. The railroad its self, however, was built and operated by Samuel Brannan in 1864 as a tourist railroad to take visiting San Franciscans as they arrived by ferry in south Napa to his resort town 'Calistoga'.
- Are the meals made by the Napa Valley Wine Train?
The Silverado, Gourmet and Vista Dome cars each have their own kitchen and specific menu. Award-winning Executive Chef, Kelly Macdonald, and his culinary staff do not cook each meal until it is ordered. Some of the side dishes and desserts are prepared in the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Culinary Arts Center and 'finish' cooked or baked on board during the three hour excursions. Even the sorbets are made by us!
- What if I have a food allergy?
Everyday, we serve a variety of guests with different dietary restrictions and food allergies. Like any good restaurant, all of our menu choices are freshly prepared to order. In our case, they are all prepared on board the Train. With advance notice, we will be better equipped to handle special menu requests. When making your reservation, please alert your booking agent of your needs. The agent will submit your information to our kitchen staff and to our on board manager. It is also necessary to remind your server which member of your party has the allergy. Rest assured, we handle hundreds of allergies weekly and with ease. We look forward to serving you and your family soon.
- Do you have children's rates?
Children's rates are only available for select packages. Please call +18004274124 if your party includes children age 12 or under in order to secure the children's rate.
- Do you allow children aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train?
Children are always welcome and some programs have special rates. Caution is recommended to parents of toddlers who might have a difficult time 'relaxing' for three hours. Due to the general movement of the train or the rare potential for a sudden stop, children cannot walk about the cars unattended. Diaper changing is not permitted in the railcars due to food service and the bathrooms are somewhat small. McKinstry Street Station has a 'diaper changing station' in the Restroom. Due to safety issues, strollers and carriers are not permitted on board, booster seats are available. Please check with your Napa Valley Wine Train Reservationists for special handling for infants.
- Is there a children's menu?
We do not offer a children's menu on board the train, however, we can adapt many of our menu items to suit your child's tastes.
- Who owns the Napa Valley Wine Train?
The Napa Valley Wine Train is family owned and operated.
- What do we wear?
Attire is generally casual, depending on time of year or which special event passengers are participating. Dinner can be more dressy with some guests preferring ‘cocktail party’ attire. Jackets are suggested on cool nights, but not required. It is always a good idea to bring an extra layer to ensure that you are warm enough on board.
- Is smoking allowed?
Due to state regulations, smoking is not permitted in the Station, on board the Train or on the outside observation deck of the train.
- How many railcars are there?
The Napa Valley Wine Train consists of nine rail cars and two engines on point:
Lounge Cars (3)
Lounge Car with Wine Tasting Bar (1)
Gourmet Express Dining Cars (2)
Silverado Car Al-Fresco Style Dining(1)
Vista Dome Dining Car (1)
Power Car (1)
Chef de Cuisine Kitchen Car with Glass Observation Corridor (1)
- How long does each trip last?
Lunch and Dinner trains typically take three hours. Our Ambassador Winery Tour generally returns to the station between 4:00pm and 4:30pm, and our Domaine Chandon Winery Tour generally returns at 3:30pm.
- What Payment Methods do you honor?
We can process AMEX, MasterCard, Visa, Diner's Club, Carte Blanche, Discover, Novus, and JCB over the phone. Our online reservatiosn system is capable of processing either Visa or Master Card. Gift Certificate numbers must be provided at point of reservation as payment method and must be presented upon check-in to secure boarding passes.
- Are there bathrooms on the Napa Valley Wine Train?
All but one of the Napa Valley Wine Train's rail cars is equipped with a restroom.
- Do you have to drink wine on the Napa Valley Wine Train?
No, you do not have to drink wine on board the Napa Valley Wine Train. For our guests who do not want to drink wine, we also offer juice, soda, non-alcoholic wines, beers, cocktails and brandies.
- Is Wine Included?
One glass of welcome wine is included with every Wine Train package for guests who are over the age of 21. Wines are included during the Vintner's Lunches and the monthly Moonlight Escape Dinners.
Cocktails, beers and wine can be purchased on board throughout your journey. More than 100 wines are on the wine list and in the Wine Tasting Car.
- Is a tip included in the price?
Optional tipping is solely based upon the guests’ experience on board. It is not unusual for guest to leave 3%-8% additional based upon receiving excellent service. Your tip should be on your food and beverage service (the value of your on board pre-paid meal is $54.50) per person tax included, and not the train fare.
- What does my package pricing include?
Prices posted and charged for all food and beverage items served on the Napa Valley Wine Train include sales tax, which will be paid to the California State Board of Equalization, and a 12% service charge which is delegated towards the funding of higher wages and medical insurance for employees.
Also included with your specific package:
Silverado Car: Train fare, a multiple course gourmet meal, (1) glass of private label Wine Train wine or a beer, and on board coffee and tea.
Gourmet Express: Train fare, a multiple course gourmet meal, (1) glass of private label Wine Train wine and on board coffee and tea.
Vista Dome: Train fare, a multiple course gourmet meal, Vista Dome upgrade, (1) glass of sparkling wine, and on board coffee and tea.
Winery Tours: Train fare, a multiple course gourmet meal, on board coffee and tea, and a tour and tasting at the specified winery or wineries.
Special Events: Train fare, a multiple course gourmet meal, on board coffee and tea, and event programs and features.
- Can we get off the Napa Valley Wine Train?
Currently passengers can only disembark as a part of one of our winery tours, or special events.
- Does the Napa Valley Wine Train stop at wineries?
Currently the Napa Valley Wine Train offers four lunch packages which include winery tours and one dinner package. For lunch tours, passengers can choose the Grgich Hills Winery Tour (everyday), the Domaine Chandon Winery Tour (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), the Ambassador Winery Tour (Monday through Thursday), or the Valley First (everyday). For a dinner tour, passengers are offered the Evening Winery Tour featuring Grgich Hills Estate (only Saturdays).
- What can I expect once I arrive at the Station?
Your journey will begin in the Napa Valley Wine Train station. After checking in at the reception desk, feel free to explore the station. Visit our Wine Store and discuss some of our rare, boutique wines with our knowledgeable wine educator. See the story of our founding in the photographs on the wall or just sit and relax with wine, coffee, or friends. Thirty minutes before boarding the lunch train, our wine specialists will give an introductory lecture on wine tasting and the Napa Valley's special climate and geography. The arrival of the Napa Valley Wine Train will be announced one half hour before the scheduled departure. Please wait for your seating section to be called. It takes quite a while to board an antique train, so don't feel the need to rush. We won't leave without you.
- Can I bring my service animal onto the Napa Valley Wine Train?
The Napa Valley Wine Train occasionally accommodates service animals on the train. We would appreciate it if you could have the service animal's certificate of service available for our conductor's inspection prior to boarding.
While we do not discourage guests with service animals from coming on the train, guests must be aware that there are several factors which guests must consider before deciding to ride with their service animal.
- The motion of the train, and the unnatural, high pitched metallic sounds that the train makes as it goes over joints in the tracks may make some animals very uncomfortable.
- The entire train is only about 8 feet across and a walkway runs through it. This means that service animals will always be within about 3 feet of a frequently used walkway. Animals not accustomed to heavy and frequent foot traffic may be very uncomfortable. Service animals must not sit or lay down in a walkway as this presents a hazard to other guests and the animal.
- Wine Train staff have been trained not to touch the service animal, but other customers may not understand the role of a service animal and may want to touch the service animal.
- The owner of the service animal must provide all of the care that the service animal requires. Any food or water which the animal requires, and appropriate containers for serving food and water to the animal, should be provided by the owner. Sanitary toilet arrangements must also be made by the owner of the animal, and, in the interest of the health and safety of our guests, the staff of the train will not handle or dispose of animal droppings or urine for the owner.
The Napa Valley Wine Train urges all owners of service animals to carefully consider the points listed above before deciding to bring your service animal aboard the Wine Train.