Now that eating on an ordinary table or atop a stack of Chinese acrobats seem horribly passé, adventurous foodies are seeking the next unconventional dining experience. Today's Groupon puts a little motion under your meal with two gourmet dinners on the Napa Valley Wine Train for $99 (a $198 value for dinner, $188 value for lunch). Treat yourself and a loved one to a three-hour ride through Napa Valley on an antique locomotive engine, accompanied by a delicious gourmet meal in lieu of the traditional mysterious murder.
Diners seated in what used to be the Frasinetti's east cellar sate themselves on handcrafted Italian lunch and dinner dishes, surrounded by huge vats evoking the 112-year-old winery’s storied past. Dinners commence with starters such as crostini slathered in grilled brie and red-pepper chutney ($10) or steamed clams in white-wine sauce ($9). Next, certified non-android servers bring out entrees such as seafood manicotti, a mix of salmon, scallops, and crab packed in pasta ($15). Pine-nut-gorgonzola butter adds a zesty twist to the 12-ounce center-cut prime rib ($25), and the regal Atlantic salmon rests on a bed of mushroom risotto ($19), like an eccentric rice baron.
Accardi Vineyards produces all of the wines on its five-acre grounds— including its 2010 Rolling Hills California Red, which is a blend of cabernet, syrah, and merlot—without added sulfites. But the low-sulfite yields aren’t only used to make wine: they’re also incorporated into the vineyard’s line of bath-and-body products, Green Visions. Ingredients such as grape-seed oil and grape-skin extract contribute antioxidant power and a subtle scent bouquet to handmade creams, moisturizers, and scrubs.
Mike Bee and Jim Peterson first teamed up in the early 90s, working side by side to resolve legal cases at their firm in Charleston, West Virginia. At the end of the workday, the two would often uncork a bottle of wine, discussing the characteristics of their favorite bottles in between sips. While attending a law convention in 1994, they toured the wineries of Napa Valley, and the experience proved inspirational. They enlisted the help of veteran winemaker Ray Coursen, and Falcor Winery was born.
In order to achieve an exceptionally balanced taste, the Falcor team selects grapes harvested at peak ripeness, well before the expiration dates spelled out by their vines. This fastidiousness has paid off. Their 2005 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon earned a spot on Wine & Spirits’ Year’s Best Cabernet & Blends list in 2010. This wine and others can be enjoyed in the winery's tasting salon, where award-winning chef Chay Woerz prepares menus and tastings that incorporate smoked meats and cheeses and wine-infused chocolate.
The open wine tasting salon Taste at Oxbow aims to expand palates with an eclectic menu of wines chosen to accompany artisanal cheeses and gourmet food items. Energy-efficient fixtures illuminate the salon's olive and merlot-toned walls, which owe their hues to chemical-free paints.
Chef Greg Johnson transfigures time-tested favorites into creative dishes at the award-winning Zinsvalley Restaurant. Diners can steal away for an exotic midday lunch of coconut yellow curry, which bathes baby bok choy, yams, shitake mushrooms, snow peas, and jasmine rice together in a bath of yellow coconut milk curry ($14), or field imaginary fly balls while noshing on the Wagyu beef hot dog with a piquant kick of jalapeño jam and pico de gallo ($11). At dinner, gourmands can sip local small-production vintages while elegantly slurping shrimp linguini ($16) or the chef's signature steak frittes, which pairs grilled Kobe Bavette with chili-rubbed fries and watercress ($24).