The Napa Valley Wine Train has launched a new winery tour to Castello di Amorosa just in time to celebrate the castle’s sixth anniversary.
“It’s a great way to see the valley,” said Wine Train ambassador Nick Giaccio. “The train takes you gently up north, you enjoy the view while eating lunch and then get a private tour and tasting of Napa County’s only castle winery.”
According to Ryan Neergaard, public relations and media manager for the Wine Train, the tour has been gaining popularity since it launched April 1. Passengers ride the train to St. Helena and then board a motorcoach to the castle.
“So far, the feedback has been nothing but positive,” Neergaard said. “People who visit the valley are interested in visiting the castle and the Wine Train and this tour allows them to visit both of these recognizable Napa Valley icons in one afternoon and under one ticket.”
Carey and Kathy Linker of Pleasanton came to the castle tour with their nephew Zach Bell and his girlfriend Kayla Bryant from Florida. “I chose this tour because it’s an all-in-one. You get to see the valley, ride the wine train and tour the castle,” said Bryant. “Riding the train had a historic feel and the scenery of the ride upvalley allowed seeing many wineries.”
Bell had never seen a castle before. Bryant, who’d seen European castles up close, was surprised that Castello di Amorosa is only 6 years old. “They created a real castle that looks ancient,” she said.
Carey Linker, Bell’s uncle, was busy buying wines. “The selection of wines was good and we like many of them,” he said. “The whole day was very organized and smooth. I loved the historic train ride. I used to take my children to train museums but never before rode one.”
The castle tour is one of six winery tours offered by the Napa Valley Wine Train. Neergaard said partnering with wineries helps to create a relaxed Napa Valley experience in a single day. He added that the fact that passengers don’t have to worry about driving is an added bonus. “People come to Napa for relaxation. The train allows that relaxation and the ability to absorb an American classic experience that has almost vanished from the American landscape.”
Besides the castle tour, the other five include Grgich Hills Cellars and Domaine Chandon as well as Valley First, Ambassador and Evening tours, that include a variety of wineries.
The Wine Train, operating since 1989, has been offering winery tours since 1998. It rides on the historic tracks that were built in 1864 by Calistoga founder Sam Brannan to bring tourists to Calistoga’s hot springs.
The train’s nine cars are all restored cars that were originally built between 1915 and 1956. One is a fully equipped kitchen car where Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald creates fresh seasonal menus from local ingredients. “People are always surprised that the food quality is so high,” he said, “even though it’s made on a train.”
Nearly 2.4 million passengers have ridden the Wine Train, according to Neergaard — about 100,000 passengers each year. “It has the highest diners’ count of any restaurant in the valley,” he said.
Wine Train excursions start at $99. Napa Valley residents get $30 off the gourmet express package, normally $114, which includes a three-course lunch or dinner. “This is our quaint, essential Wine Train experience,” said Neergaard. Napa Valley residents also get free corkage for their first bottle of wine.
Castle tour prices range from $189 to $234 per person and depend on seating and dining preferences.
To learn more, visit WineTrain.com or call 1-800-427-4124.