Authentic Italian Medieval Delight in Napa Valley: Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa ia an architectural adventure for the whole family right in the middle of Napa Valley. Based on fourth generation winemaker Dario Sattui’s passion for medieval history, he spent 14 years constructing the replica of a 13th-century stone castle on 171-acres and every piece of it is authentic.
You can take a tour of the property which includes the main hall with huge murals and a 500-year old fireplace. The room is used for large events as well as for films, which won’t surprise you when you see how beautiful it is.
There is also a chapel and courtyard as well as underground where there are tons and tons of tunnels, plenty of spots to discover as there are 107 rooms on eight floors!
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Wine Tasting in a Castle in Napa Valley, California
Castello di Amorosa is a winery I had heard a lot about but had not visited until just recently. It certainly made a big impression! I drove up the driveway, lined with cypress trees reminiscent of Tuscany's wine country, and then saw the huge castle, surrounded by vine-covered hills. It is 121,000 square feet, about 2/3 of which is underground, built into the hill, making the perfect place to store wine.
The castle took 15 years to build using authentic materials from Europe. It is cold and sometimes dark inside, like a real castle, but the atmosphere is lively as the endless halls and rooms are filled with happy visitors on a tour or tasting wine. Besides the details of the castle itself, what impressed me was how open the winery is to the community and visitors. People were enjoying the beautiful grounds, from couples on a romantic getaway to families with kids.
Several different tour options are available, from the briefer self-guided tour to the more extensive vineyard tour, and the winery is open every day except Christmas. The winery specializes in lovely Italian-style reds and has won many awards for their wines, including the recent gold in back-to-back years for the Gewurtztraminer Dry.
Regardless of whether you live on the east or west coast, a weekend getaway to Napa is a must for all wine-loving travelers. As a city slicker myself, I don’t own a car and since taking a Lyft or Uber from the city to the valley is quite expensive, consider renting a car, instead. That said, remember to get car insurance, as California's laws are fairly strict.
Napa and Sonoma can technically be done in a day, but I suggest making a weekend getaway out of it. There are 400+ wineries in Napa alone, and 600 when you count Sonoma’s estates and thus, it can feel pretty overwhelming your first visit. Narrow down your options by doing some pre-trip research. If you’re a fan of a particular type of wine, say, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, aim to visit wineries that specialize in that variety.
Another way to narrow down your winery list is to view each property as an attraction. For example, Castello di Amorosa is a 13th century Tuscan style castle. This might seem like a shock at first, but you’ll soon learn that while the castle is a relatively modern construction, it’s built with actual bricks from Italy and Austria. There’s even a torture chamber (don’t worry, it’s not actually in operation) nearby the wine cellar.
If staying for the night, take advantage of the areas' collection of quaint bed & breakfasts, ranging from affordable to the ultimate in luxury.
An Italian renaissance castle in the heart of Napa Valley, Castello di Amorosa is a sweet spot to bring kids and get a taste of Europe. The castle was built from scratch by Dario Sattui, whose vision was to give a slice of Italian-style wines to the discerning Napa audience. The result is a marvelous medieval structure that is one part maze, one part authentic castle (complete with underground torture chamber). It's as close as you can get to Siena without leaving California. Wine tastings are available daily, and several footage and films have been shot here.
This is heading up the main drive of the winery/castle/winery Castello di Amorosa, and for a moment I felt like I was 20 years old again and in awe of the fact that I was living in Italy for a year and experiencing views such as this.
What do you do when you find yourself in the premiere wine tasting region of the United States and only have time to visit a single winery for a tasting? Let your hosts pick for you. Ours took us to a place renowned not only for its superb wines, but for its incredible architecture. Owned by vintner Dario Sattui, Castello di Amorosa has 8 levels (above and below ground), 107 rooms, and approximately 121,000 square feet. It even has a torture chamber with an “authentic,” $13,000 iron maiden torture device from Pienza, Italy. Experience your tasting inside the medieval-feeling castle, then spend time exploring its grounds. You won't be disappointed!