Top Wine Country Trains
Napa Valley Wine Train
Founded in 1990 in an effort to preserve rail lines, the Napa train runs for three hours on a 36-mile (58-kilometer) round trip from Napa to St. Helena, Calif. Guests travel on vintage Pullman cars that date from 1915 to 1917.
The restaurant offers lunch tours, dinner tours and vintner's lunches with tips from local winemakers. Lunch trains have four-course meals, during which guests can eat two courses, stop at a winery for tasting, and board the train on its return for the final two courses.
If Napa is not on your itinerary but San Francisco is, you can take a ferry across the bay with shuttle service to Napa to try the train.
Warren County Winery Train
This train is pulled by a steam engine and departs from Phillipsburg, N.J., every Saturday and Sunday from early May through Labor Day. It runs for about 7 miles (11.3 kilometers) along the Delaware River and stops at the end of the line. That ride takes about 90 minutes. Then you board a bus and take a short jaunt to the Villa Milagro Vineyards, where you're invited to enjoy a picnic lunch and learn about the art and science of making wine.
Colorado Wine Train
If your journey is as much about the train and the scenery as it is about the wine, then this is the trip for you.
Wine country tourists embark on a reserved car on the California Zephyr through Amtrak at Union Station in Denver, Colo. During the trip over the Rockies to Grand Junction, the group is treated to wine tasting and the company of a Colorado historian. When they get to Grand Junction, they stay at the Wine Country Inn, where they can enjoy guided vineyard tours and more wine tasting.
Santa Barbara Daylight Vino Train
This occasional tour gives riders the chance to step onto the Overland Trail, a historic rail car built in the 1940s with the curved surfaces and gleaming wood that defined that era of design. Guests travel from Los Angeles Union Station up the coast to Santa Barbara, Calif., for a guided wine tasting tour downtown. The Vino Train's Web site shows that harvest period trains sell out quickly for the harvest months of September and October.
So, what should you take along on your wine train trip? Read on to find out.