While we are all about creating your own adventure, we know there are some experiences — like river cruises — that offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to sit back, relax, and let the adventure come to you. The Napa Valley Wine Train is one such experience. There is no better way to see and taste your way across the famous California wine region than on this historic train with its gourmet food, renowned wines, and breathtaking landscapes.

What Is the Wine Train?

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The Napa Valley Wine Train winds through some of the most famed wine country in the United States and the world. Its 16 rail cars travel on 18 miles of track from downtown Napa to St. Helena and back, for a total of 36 miles and three hours round-trip.

The History

The current train with its gourmet service and tours has been running for 30 years, but the railroad itself dates back to 1864 when it was built to take tourists from southern Napa to the then-resort town of Calistoga. The old-fashioned luxury of that era is preserved in the atmosphere of classic elegance in the train's refurbished vintage cars.

The Food

While the wine may take center stage, you won't have to worry about drinking on an empty stomach. The train has four kitchens preparing their seasonal, gourmet menus — all focused on showcasing the best of Napa's local ingredients. You're even welcome to check out the kitchen cars for yourself to see the chefs in action.

Tours for Every Taste

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Though the route stays the same, there are a variety of tour options available for whatever your particular interests may be. From romance and mystery to family-friendly fun, here are a few of our favorites.

Castle Winery Tour

Length: Three and a half hours

Showing off one of the most unique properties in Napa, the Castle Winery Tour takes you to the V. Sattui Winery with its medieval Tuscan castle known as Castello di Amorosa for a tour and tasting, after a multi-course gourmet lunch aboard the train.

Murder Mystery Tour

Length: Three hours

If you really want to step back in time — or if you want a side of crime with your wine — opt for the murder mystery tour, where you'll enter a 1920s Prohibition-era land of mobsters, jealous lovers, and more. You and the other passengers will be responsible for solving the evening's crime while enjoying the train's three-course gourmet dinner.

Raymond Winery Tour

Length: Three hours

For a classic tour of one of the most inspiring vineyards in the valley, book the Raymond Vineyards Tour. Not only will you be sampling their wines and touring their Crystal Cellar, but you'll also learn about the knowledge and philosophy behind their bio-dynamic farming.

Saturday Evening Winery Tour

Length: Three hours

Though most winery tours occur during the day, the Saturday Evening Winery Tour through the Grgich Hills Estate offers an exclusive after-hours look at one of the classic Napa legends. In addition to a three-course gourmet dinner aboard the train, you'll have cheese pairings with your wine tastings for a completely savory experience.

Santa Train

Length: One hour and 15 minutes

Plan ahead for the winter holiday season when the wine train offers a special tour for the entire family. Complete with hot cocoa and holiday cookies, you and your kids can take part in music, games, and other entertainment on board the Santa Train, while helping Jolly the Bear return to the North Pole.

Gourmet Express

Length: Three hours

If you want the old-fashioned train experience without the extended time commitment of some of the winery tours, you can book tickets on the Gourmet Express for either lunch or dinner. You'll get to enjoy the sophisticated luxury of the dining and lounge cars with all the deliciousness of a multi-course, gourmet meal — without ever having to leave the train.

Romance on the Rails

Length: Three hours

For a date night, proposal, or anniversary to remember, Romance on the Rails is sure to impress. You'll be dining in the train's Vista Dome, a luxurious observation-style dining car with private booths and an unbeatable view of the scenery and sunset.

Hop Train

Length: Two hours

Sacrilegious as it may sound, there is even a train for those who prefer beer to wine. For a more casual feel in the train's open-air car, check out Happy Hour on the Hop Train every Monday with pints, bar bites, and the same breathtaking vineyard sights.

Full-Day Winery Tours

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As fun as the above may sound, for the true oenophiles among us, the only real choice is one of the wine train's full-day tours. There are three different options available in this category, all of which last six hours total and will have you wining and dining throughout the elegant beauty of Napa Valley. In addition to three hours of sightseeing by rail, you'll be feasting on a four-course meal and spending an hour touring and tasting at each of the three different wineries on the tour.

The Legacy Tour

Wineries: Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, and V. Sattui

For a taste of tradition, try the Legacy Tour, with its exploration of the estates of three famed Italian families and more than 300 combined years of winery experience.

The Collective Tour

Wineries: St. Supery Estate, Beringer, and Raymond

If you don't want the glamour to end when you leave the train, the Collective Tour — with its stops at a winery owned by Chanel and the Crystal Cellar of Raymond Vineyards — is a perfect choice.

The Estate Tour

Wineries: Domaine Chandon, Louis M. Martini, and Inglenook

With verdant gardens and a restored chateau, the awe-inspiring art and architecture of the iconic Napa properties on the Estate Tour are perhaps even more memorable than the wine itself.