Grape Train Escape
Verde Canyon Railroad has long been a venue for viticulture appreciation. Since 1990 train passengers have enjoyed raising a toast to the Arizona wilderness from well-appointed rail cars, harkening back to a time when relaxing travel by train was recognized as a hallmark of sophistication and class. In 2002 raising that toast became a highly-requested event called the Grape Train Escape. Going in to its 19th year, this great grape celebration has spanned the planet – Italian, Chilean, Spanish, German and French wines have been served to thousands of awe-inspired train passengers.
May 15, June 12, July 10, August 7 and September 4
Offered during the 5:30 p.m. Saturday Starlight Trains, May through September, a number of the train cars are dedicated to The Grape Train Escape event. Regional purveyors of fine Arizona wines as well as worldwide vintners showcase their award-winning vintages on the rails. Wine tasting coupled with harmonizing appetizers takes one back to a time when relaxing train travel was recognized as a hallmark of sophistication.
May 15 – Wines from Chile
Rich with history, culture and adventure, wines from Chile inspire passion and stir the soul with their robust notes and spicy aromas. Temperate climate and arid conditions combine to create a hearty elegance in the wines of South America.
Emiliana Natura Un-Oaked Chardonnay
Honeysuckle and snap pea notes enliven the apple, ripe citrus and gooseberry flavors in this white, with creamy details on the crisp and succulent finish.
Emiliana Natura Rosé 2020
Bright light pink. The bouquet has an intense fruity aroma, featuring cherry and black currant. Good body, silky and elegant on the palate. Tremendously fresh, fruity, and balanced.
Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere Reserva 2018
With gentle tannins, and deep crimson colors, you can expect an array of berries, red fruits, spice, smokiness and earth on both the nose and palate.
Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2018
Strong red and black fruit-forward characteristics on both the nose and palate. This wine loves to be aged in oak, which gives it classic hints of vanilla, spice, and tobacco.
June 12 – Wines from Washington State
Since the 19th century arrival of Swiss and German immigrants to the Pacific Northwest with their wine-making skills, Washington State has proved to be a perfect locale for grapevine cultivation.
The wines of the region showcase a fusion of Old World style and with New World sass.
Borne of Fire Chardonnay 19
Striking a balance between stone fruits, flowers and a unique hint of tarragon, Borne of Fire Chardonnay is fermented using wild native yeasts which give the wine its signature minerality.
Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc 19
Appealing aromas of grass, green pepper, guava and citrus lead to crisp, tart, lemony flavors, followed by a soft palate with flavors of melon and shows minerality and zesty acidity on the finish.
Spoken Barrel Meritage Red Blend
Black garnet in color, with a rich, dense mouthfeel, the Meritage Red Blend shares notes of red fruits, toasty oak, smoke, chocolate and citrus rind. Long, supple finish.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
Fruit-forwards flavors and scents of black cherry, black berry, clove, chocolate, dried herbs, mint and violet. Medium-bodied and well-balanced with a velvety, savory finish.
July 10 – Wines from Argentina
The wines from Argentina will inflame your passion for adventure. Once horded by priests, they’re not just for communion anymore. With culture and history poured into every bottle these wines will stir your soul.
Mendoza and Cafayate are two of the best grape growing regions in all of Argentina, and Piattelli Winery showcases both.
Piattelli Rose of Malbec
Aromatic and intense, with a bright pink hue. Medium-bodied wine that will seduce your senses with its floral aromas of Torrontés. A fresh, silky finish with hints of cherry and strawberry.
Piattelli Reserve Torrontés 19
Bursting with flavor and moderated lightly with oak. Well-balanced in acidity with a citrusy medium finish, and aromas of pineapple, peach, orange zest and fresh apricot.
Piattelli Malbec Premium 18
An inky, medium-bodied, dry red wine with impressions of plum, spice, cassis and understated oak on the nose and palate.
Piattelli Premium Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 18
A bold Cabernet wine in a dark hue with an enticing bouquet of berries, cassis, chocolate and black pepper unfolds across the palate, lingering with a soft tannin pull and a hint of vanilla.
August 21 – Wines from Australia
Boisterous and bold, the wines of Australia are as refreshing and dynamic as their origins in the Land Down Under. A selection of spirited vintages will invigorate the palate with their confident notes.
Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon 19
Creamy, zesty and medium-bodied, this wine is subtly reminiscent of its coastal origins, with a mineral backbone and notes of fresh lime, citrus sorbet, cucumber, pine needle and passionfruit.
Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 18
This crisp, refreshing chardonnay features notes of peach, melon, fig, tropical fruit and toasty oak. The palate is soft and smooth with spice hints across the long, balanced finish.
Max's Shiraz South Australia 15
Spicy and rich with berry, cinnamon, pepper and cherry, this bold Shiraz is layered with texture and fine powdery tannins.
Second Voyage Cabernet Sauvignon
Flavorful dark red Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of blackberry, plum and violets has a lingering oak finish with aromas of dark berries.
September 4 – Vineyards of the Verde Valley
The lush Verde Valley, with its sandy soils and abundant sunshine, invites wine enthusiasts to experience a destination rich in history, beauty and the production of exquisite Arizona wines. Save these up-and-coming wines.
Pillsbury Chardonnay (2018)
Fermented with wild yeasts this delicate white Burgundy-style has hints of white flower. Shortbread, and citrus, with a soft mouthfeel, finishing with a hint of vanilla and walnut. .
Arizona Stronghold Dayden Dry Rose (2019)
A medium dry rose Aromas of strawberry, cherry, flowers, hints of ginger and crushed stone. Intense but delicate palate with flavors of watermelon, citrus, and mineral tones.
Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra Red (2019)
Aromatic spice and balsamic notes. Suggestion of leather, violets, salt, celery bitters, anise and white pepper.
Caduceus Cellars Airvata (2017)
Savory, vivid dark fruitiness, hints of leather, black pepper, woodsy herbs and spice. A Blueberry roll-up with hints of cinnamon and chocolate.
A Sensory Adventure
Savoring wine while soaking in the scenery of the Southwest is a relatively new pairing for Arizona’s Verde Valley, but it is quickly gaining notoriety as a fine region for grape growing. In addition, it is a region where the appreciation of these varietals becomes more enjoyable while basking in high desert beauty.
During the Saturday Starlight Tours, passengers experience a spectacular blend of light and color in the canyon ranging from bright daytime to rich sunset, from twinkly twilight to magnificent moonglow. Paired with an award-winning wine in hand, any Grape Train Escape will contribute to a sensory adventure suitable for every palate.
What to Expect with Your Wine
- Luxurious style and attentive beverage service right to your seat
- Appetizers paired perfectly with wine selections
- Adjoining open-air cars where the lush riparian landscape of summer, including canopies cottonwoods, moody monsoon afternoons and deep crimson cliffs, compliments a great glass of wine
- Information is made available so you can find where to purchase a bottle of your favorite wines following the ride