Friday, July 19, 2013

The Napa Wine Train

It was a sad farewell to Yosemite National Park and the Sequoias, but we continued our adventure by driving to the Napa Valley. We checked into the Old World Inn and then headed over a few blocks to a wine tasting before getting on the wine train for dinner. 

I am not a wine connoisseur by any means, but know a little something about wines from my dad. When we were growing up, we picked mustang grapes from the vines that grew over the trees on our farm. After crushing them to get the juice, my dad added yeast to make wine. I remember the 5 gallon jugs he used for the fermenting process. They had a valve in the top to release the gas produced by the yeast. Anyway, I have fond memories of my dad making mustang grape wine and fig wine. Yes! I said fig wine. It made a fruity dessert wine that was out of this world. 

But, I'm side-tracking here. My point is that I can appreciate a good wine and it doesn't have to be sweet. We hit 2 establishments for wine tastings. 5 bottles of wine later, we headed back to the Bread and Breakfast to get ready for dinner on the wine train.

The train left Napa and headed north along Highway 29 up to St. Helena about 22 miles away. The trip took about an hour and a half each way. On the way up, David and I were aboard the restaurant car. We were served 4 courses out of five along with several other couples. 


We started of with an alcoholic punch that was similar to a Mai Tai . . .

. . . and an appetizer of grapes, shrimp with sea weed, pickled beats, a tasty bruschetta, and two different kinds of cheese. The green strip of cheese was unbelievably good.

Next came our salad - a combination of mixed greens, shredded carrots, bacon, candied walnuts and cheese with a lovely vinegrette dressing. The candied walnuts were awesome and we even found out how to make them. Hint: the walnuts are fried before rolling in a mixture that includes sugar and spices. I will have to try this at home.

The salad was followed by three melon ball size scoops of sorbet - one each of  black cherry, coconut and mango. These were to "cleanse the palate" before the main course. My, but I had no idea how little of a connoisseur I am. This was ultra fancy and all I knew was to use the silverware from the outside in. LOL I didn't get a photo because I was too busy trying to figure all this out, but I did get a picture of the empty mini-parfait glass.

The main course came next and it was so worth waiting for. It included beef, carrots and potatoes. It wasn't just any old beef or carrots or mashed potatoes. It was the wine train's beef, carrots and mashed potatoes. And the gravy was out of this world. Was it really that good or was it the train that did it? I can't be sure, but maybe it was a little of both.

By this time, we had been on the train for an hour and a half and had reached the "end of the line" as they say. We had arrived at St. Helena. This is where we moved to the dessert car and this is where the train stops, the engines move to the other end of the train and we start the hour and a half trip back to Napa.

Although I failed to take pictures of my Creme Brulee and cappuccino I made sure I got a few pictures of the activity outside.

Evidently, the house at the vineyard at the end of the line belongs to someone on the food network. Or so I was told. So, of course I was all over that one. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chef's name, so I wasn't as all over it as I thought. Oh well.

Of course the wine train is not just about the food. It is also about the scenery. 

We were on the sunny side of the train on the way up so there was a glare out the window but I managed to get a few pics of the vineyards.

The pictures on the way back were much better, but by that time, it was already getting towards dark. I managed a few though.

The scenery was wonderful! and by this time, we had finished out dessert and moved to the lounge car.

These were actually taken through the window as well, but since the sun was below the horizon, there was no glare.

My last outdoor scenes were of the Mondavi winery. You might say the sky was the color of a blush or rose'. Luscious! The last hour of the train ride was in the dark.

So we ordered a glass of Riesling and propped up our feet to enjoy the ride. I sported my July 4th pedicure and David rubbed my feet. Who could top this trip on the wine train?

We arrived back at train station around 9:30 and returned to the B&B with 2 more bottles of wine and some other souvenirs. Happy wine tasting!

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