The Napa Valley Wine Train hasn't generated many positive headlines for itself. In August, the Wine Country locomotive came under fire for ejecting an African-American women's book club, and it was later revealed the tourist trap on rails has a dodgy history with minority groups. The train was sold in September, and now new ownership is attempting to change the narrative and promote inclusivity with an LGBT-friendly "pride ride" on March 19.
The Napa Valley Pride Ride will feature "some of the Bay Area's most prominent LGBT wine experts," according to a press release. The selected wines will be paired with a four-course meal prepared by the train's executive chef. It's unclear whether the oenophiles involved actually list "LGBT wine expert" instead of, you know, "wine expert" on their resumes.
While the description of the event might be a little tone-deaf, at least proceeds will be donated to The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, which provides aid for HIV services, hunger programs, and support for homeless and disenfranchised youth.
In October, the book club that was given the boot filed suit against the wine train, seeking $11 million in damages. The women involved are suing for racial discrimination, libel, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They say they're seeking such a high amount of money in hopes of preventing "the company from ever doing anything like this again."
Update: January 28, 4:30 p.m. A spokesperson for the Napa Valley Wine Train tells Eater its the first edition of the Pride Ride, but the train has been celebrating the gay community for years.
"This is the sixth year the Napa Valley Wine Train has celebrated the LGBT community and this was not created to 'change their image.'
"Although this is the first 'Pride Ride' event, the Napa Valley Wine Train has celebrated with the "Big Gay Train" event for the five previous years. The 'Big Gay Train' focused on wines made by LGBT winemakers and this year they took a different direction and developed the "Pride Ride." It is a slightly different concept, and focus on the knowledge of LGBT wine experts.
"Also, the menu from 'Big Gay Train' was a paired food and wine experience and the menu for the "Pride Ride" is a more traditional menu where guests can select their entree and the Wine Expert will be there to help guide guests in their wine pairing. They made a more accommodating menu because they've noticed guests love the flexibility of being able to select their own food and wine."