The Napa Valley Wine Train: Everything New and Still Traditional
When Scott Goldie and his partners from Brooks Street and Noble House Hotels & Resorts, first explored the purchase of the iconic Napa Valley Wine Train, it was a real estate deal to all concerned. The train and the tracks are on seventeen separate land parcels, and Goldie and his partners thought about what they could do if they sold or developed the land. Early in the negotiations though, all realized the importance of the train to the community and the potential for it to better serve Napa. By the time Goldie and his partners took over, they were fully committed to preserving, and growing the Wine Train experience.
For Goldie, who is the co-CEO, the idea of operating a business on wheels excited the kid in him. “I get to play with trains all day. What could be better than that?” The dome car of the train is a Milwaukee Road, the same kind of car his grandfather worked on for forty years. “These trains have been in my family for generations.”
Operating the train presented a classic business school challenge, and that’s how he approached it. “When we took over, there were twenty-one miles of train tracks, and they were only in use three hours a day. That didn’t make sense,” said Goldie. He added that Wine Train founder Vince DiDomenico felt the same way.
With the help of Brooks Street and Noble House Hotels & Resorts, the team has made significant enhancements to services, both new and existing. The Quattro Vino tours were introduced this year. These tours are a six-hour experience designed for smaller groups, and include stops at three wineries for tastings and appetizers, as well as a gourmet, four-course meal onboard. The Blue and White Pullman car, reminiscent of a 50’s smoking lounge, envelops guests with the leather and mahogany interior one would expect from that time, as well as Wi-Fi. It’s a ‘get off, get on’ train with options for guests, and is perfect for private parties. There are also Legacy, Collective and Estate tours, each designed to please unique wine palettes.
The newest Wine Train experience is Rock the Rails, which kicked off in September with a private Big Bad Voodoo Daddy concert. Passengers board the train en route to V. Sattui Winery for the concert. Several packages are available with a variety of wines, meals, and seating options.
Goldie is still focused the traditional Wine Train experience. A leisurely train ride through the valley while enjoying Napa Valley wines has to be the most relaxed way to enjoy the area. Add to that world class cuisine, and you’ve created an unforgettable experience. Goldie said an important step is to refurbish the entire train, which will take two years. “It needs and deserves an upgrade,” he said. The Wine Train has plans to build a hotel on-site, which, Goldie promises, will be of world-class quality.
Goldie said the Wine Train’s goal, “is to be the hospitality and entertainment spine of the Valley,” and is fervently committed to community involvement. “People in Napa are quick to partner on projects that help all.” The Wine Train joined with the Arts Council and Chuck McMinn of the Vine Trail to create the Railroad Arts District (R.A.D.), a 1.7 mile stretch of the tracks whose adjacent buildings are being adorned with murals. Goldie has talked to the Model Railroad folks, who are being displaced from the Expo, about relocating to an area inside the train station.
Even a short conversation with Goldie makes it obvious that he loves being associated with the Wine Train and is having the time of his life. He’s says it’s just the beginning. “Stay tuned. There’s more coming.”