Quattro Vino, a four-stop wine tour through the heart of Napa Valley, is the crown jewel of the Napa Valley Wine Train. We dive deep into what wine (and food) lovers will experience on the journey.
While most travelers to Napa Valley set aside time for a wine tour through the area’s legendary vineyards and wineries, true oenophiles will jump at the chance to board the Napa Valley Wine Train for Quattro Vino, a six-hour rail tour of Napa Valley with seating for 31 lucky passengers that launched on June 1. With tastings at four wineries and courses from the gourmet four-course Napa-style meal interspersed between each stop, it’s perhaps the quickest, most luxurious way to sample the best of Napa Valley in style and comfort.
The Wine Tour Experience of a Lifetime
Unlike many other bus and rail tours, the round-trip Quattro Vino is a unique wine train experience in that it offers guests the chance to disembark at each of the wineries and still be back at the starting point in six hours. There’s also the fact that the wine train’s executive chef has painstakingly built the gourmet menu to dovetail perfectly with the time frames between stops, as well as time of day.
Lastly, guests on the Quattro Vino will notice a recurring theme at the wineries – the omnipresent influence of the Mondavi family. Brothers Robert and Peter, along with their father, Cesare, were three of the most influential power brokers in the transformation of Napa Valley from a humble agricultural region to an internationally recognized hub of the wine industry.
9:45 a.m. – All Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train [Napa Valley, CA]
First welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine, guests are then shown to their seats on the 36-seat 1920s Pullman rail car that has been restyled with modern touches while still preserving the character of the elegant era in which they were built. Buttery leather and soft, tufted navy velvet seats are accented by rich wood grain and the overhead lights that change color as if Virgin America had designed a retro train car.
10:15 a.m. – The First Course
Breakfast is served. While the landscape of the 420 vineyards of Napa Valley scroll past outside the windows, guests dine on a ciabatta of shaved pork, arugula pesto, caramelized onion, sliced egg, and Manchego cheese, followed by a parfait of fresh Greek yogurt, mixed berries, and almond granola before tucking into a brûlée of steel-cut oatmeal. After tasting the Quattro Vino’s sweet, caramelized version of oatmeal, you may never be able to eat the bland, gluey oats you make at home again.
10:50 a.m. – Robert Mondavi Winery
The train arrives at the Robert Mondavi Winery, an icon of Napa Valley. It’s where Robert Mondavi pioneered the term “Fumé Blanc” and relentlessly worked to improve the quality and reputation of Cabernet Sauvignon. But more than anything else, Robert used his winery to further the idea that Napa Valley was one of the world’s greatest wine regions. Quattro Vino guests disembark right into the vineyard and walk into the mission-style winery for an exclusive hour-long tour through the winery just for them. An ambassador from the winery then takes them to a private cellar, where two wines are tasted.
11:50 p.m. – The Second Course
Once back aboard the train, you’re treated to asparagus velouté, as well as a salad of Lollo Rosso and Bibb lettuces, blue cheese, fennel, apple crisps, a white balsamic-dijon vinaigrette, and parmesan crumbs. How’s that compare to your typical morning snack?
12:15 p.m. – Charles Krug Winery
The wine train pulls into the Charles Krug Winery, which is owned by Robert Mondavi’s brother, Peter. The family’s roots are deep here – Robert and Peter’s parents got their start at this winery after Robert convinced the family’s patriarch, Cesare, to buy it in 1943. Robert and Peter ran Charles Krug Winery together until their acrimonious relationship, with sometimes heated disagreements that eventually led to blows, led to Robert splitting off to launch his own namesake winery. During the one-hour tasting, guests will learn the history of the winery, tasting as they tour the grounds.
1:15 p.m. – The Third Course
Lunch may offer up the day’s most difficult decision: grilled duck sausage with silken potato puree, grilled onions, and Sauternes apples; or seared halibut with a fava, lentil, and white bean saffron ragout.
1:35 p.m. – Merryvale Vineyards
The train pulls up aside. Illustrating the expansive reach of the Mondavi family roots, Merryvale Vineyards was where Robert Mondavi got his first job in the wine making industry in 1936, a move that plunged him headlong into the world of viticulture and enology. Current proprietor Laurence Schlatter advises wine lovers to think of wine as a living, breathing thing – and make it their own. On this tour, guests will taste several of the wines produced on-site.
2:20 p.m. – V. Sattui Winery
A brief interlude back on the train brings you to V. Sattui Winery, the last of the four stops on the Quattro Vino tour. At this property in the heart of Napa Valley, you’ll learn about the winemaking process of the family-owned winery founded in 1885. You may sample four or even five wines to end the day before boarding the train for the ride home, but not without one more course to finish it off.
3:20 p.m. – The Fourth Course
Dessert is served during the one-hour journey back to the train depot: a cannoli with apple, ricotta, and almond; a warm, flourless chocolate cake with brandied cherries; or a cinnamon-crusted tarte au citron. There is no decision to make here; you get to taste all three – a fitting end to a full day of experiencing and tasting the best of Napa.