July 24, 2012 > Wine Tasting on the rails
Wine Tasting on the rails
By Gustavo Lomas
Calm scenery, a relaxing and an historic ride through Niles Canyon will be paired with a selection of wines and cheeses picked specifically to delight. Could there be a better way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon?
Beginning at the end of the month, Livermore Valley Winery, along with Niles Canyon Railway, will be popping the cork on their ninth summer of Wine Tasting Specials every other Sunday July 29 through September 9. Guests will not only taste local wines from the Livermore Valley, but also enjoy a carefree ride through Niles Canyon. Five wines will be offered, handpicked by Wine Educator Steve Ferree, a certified wine professional with the Society of Wine Educators, who holds certificates from the Culinary Institutes of America and the Wine and Spirits Education trust. He has chosen three red wines and two white wines, each paired with a specific cheese or hors d'oeuvre for a culinary tour de force.
Livermore Valley is one of the state's oldest wine regions and has played an important role, shaping California's wine industry since the first wine grapes were planted by Spanish missionaries in the 1760s. It was not until the 1840s however, that pioneers looking for better vineyard sites arrived and began planting grapes in the region. Robert Livermore was the first to plant commercial vines in the 1840s, followed by C.H. Wente, James Concannon, and Charles Wetmore, who all founded wineries in the 1880s.
Guests will learn about the Niles Canyon rail line, part of the original Transcontinental Railway, when trains first steamed through in 1869 and additional information about Livermore Valley.
Special Wine Tasting trains have been running since 2003 with ridership growing each year. Attendees will receive a complimentary wine glass and serving tray as a memento. Event Manager Bob Bradley stated, "It's a nice leisurely ride through the canyon. Guests can relax as they are waited on and served each of our pairings. We try to pair our last wine with a chocolate." Riding on a train, drinking wine, and talking with fellow passengers sets an historic tone and atmosphere for the past to be remembered and re-lived. "Last year, 125 people came along for the ride," says Bradley. "Having so many people come out feels good."
Although the Niles Canyon Railway has both a diesel and steam engine, the diesel locomotive is used during these Sunday tours. "We find that it is just easier. It gives more focus on the guests as well as spreading the history of both Livermore Valley and the Niles Railway," says Bradley.
The train departs from the Niles Depot promptly at 1:30 p.m. each Sunday so an early arrival is recommended; no pets or personal food or beverage are allowed. Although there is no parking fee at the station, guests have the option of parking in downtown Niles and riding a vintage bus to the station.
For more information, contact the Niles Canyon Railway at (510) 910-7024 or visit online at www.ncry.org.
Niles Canyon Railway/Livermore Valley Wine Tasting Special
Sundays, July 29, August 12 and 26, September 9
37001 Mission Blvd., Fremont
Cost: $37.50 per person