A little bit of San Francisco will roll through Napa Valley as a new trolley touring service debuts at the end of this month.
Appellation Tours, Inc., a Sonoma-based tourism company, recently announced the launch of The Napa Valley Wine Trolley.
Built like a traditional trolley car on top, but with an RV chassis below, the trolley on wheels will be available starting Friday for daily six-hour tours of Napa’s wine country, said Craig Haskell, general manager of the Napa Valley Wine Trolley.
“We are very excited to bring our unique tour into the Napa Valley,” said Haskell. “Riding in our open-air trolley provides guests with an experience that no other motorized tour company does.”
This isn’t the company’s first trolley venture. Haskell also helped launch the successful Sonoma Valley Wine trolley more than two years ago, he noted.
The Napa Valley Wine Trolley was made in Medford, Ore., by Classic Trolley, Haskell said. Each unit costs upwards of $150,000. Instead of running on electrical lines, as in days of old, these vehicles run via gasoline and can travel freeway speeds.
The trolley may be powered by modern technology but it has a nostalgic look, complete with wooden seats, cushions, brass railings, gold lettering and red painted panels. The Napa trolley is called “Number 29,” he said. And yes, there is a real trolley bell.
Yountville and Calistoga have a public trolley serving as a local bus. Downtown Napa used to have a trolley, part of the VINE bus system. The Napa Valley Wine Trolley is the only wine tour trolley in the area, Haskell said.
The general manager said the trolley will run daily, with predetermined stops at local wineries and NapaStyle restaurant for lunch. The $99 fee covers lunch but not wine tasting fees.
During outings, trolley guides will educate guests on wine and the area, while playing music from the 1890s to the 1940s. “Drivers ring the bell, wave to people and have a good ol’ time. It’s a fun day,” he said. “People really like the trolley experience.”
With room for 30 people, the trolley is also a popular choice for weddings, special events and photos sessions, he added. “Its great for backdrops.”
Clay Gregory, CEO of Visit Napa Valley, said that the wine trolley would likely be a fun choice for visitors.
“One of the needs we have is non-car transportation” for people visiting wineries, said Gregory. “More and more people just don’t want to drive. To have an alternative is a good thing,” he said.
He noted that besides Calistoga and Yountville, St. Helena soon will offer a public trolley. In the long run, Visit Napa Valley is committed to offering more transportation options from American Canyon to Calistoga. The wine trolley “is a step in the right direction,” he said.