25 YEARS OF TOOT-TOOT-ING: Any business worth its "We're Open" sign knows that stirring up a loyal customer base, and the occasional curious-minded just-passing-througher, isn't as much a matter of charts and spreadsheets and graphs as waiting it out and being patient and allowing word of mouth to build. Then, maybe in a few years, or a few decades? You're set (if an innovative business ever truly wants to be set). But the Napa Valley Wine Train seemed to do a bit of time-and-space folding when it came to rising in the ranks of our general knowledge, our ability to pick it out of a train-based line-up, and the amount of adoration it got from both tourists and locals looking for a different day out. People talked about it from the get-go -- you're drinking wine! On a moving train! And you're visiting wineries! And eating! And it is all pretty dang cinematic! -- and people rode it, too, in droves, or whatever the fancier word for a throng of wine-loving train-riders might be. (A vinorailian? Yes, we think that's it.) Now the NVWT -- call it that if you want to be catchy -- is celebrating its big Silver Anniversary on Tuesday, Sept. 16, and longer than that, with a trio of fan-forward contests.
SELFIES AND WINE PHOTOS: The convivial competitions run throughout September and involve snapping selfies around Napa or anywhere else in the world and sharing them. There are some rules to know, and how points are earned on Instagram and Twitter, so read on before you and your camera set out. Not a selfie-taker? Try the Wine Train Photo contest. Submit your best NVWT pics and the train's crew'll post some of the best in a special Facebook album. The prizes? Ohhhh, you guessed it: Wine train tickets are up for grabs. There's a bouquet of things to know, as with all contests, so roll along the rails this way, vinorailians. And a happy 25 years to the train. It has helped "preserve the historic rail corridor" of the valley, and antique railcars, too, as well as brought many (many many many) wine buffs to vineyards snuggled up against its route. Would every business worth its "We're Open" sign be such a flowering source of good stuff for its community.