Monday, March 22, 2010

Castello di Amorosa (Castle Winery)

Castello di Amorosa is a replica of a Tuscan 13th century castle and is a very interesting place for families to visit.  Children are welcome, and they will probably love the visit. The paintings, buildings and stonework are really amazing!  We did the tour which includes many interesting rooms and caves, including the dungeon and torture chamber with various torture devices, and a barrel tasting in the Grand Barrel Room followed by regular tasting. There are four levels of underground rooms in the wine caves with over 107 rooms, 121,000 square feet of attractions, escape tunnels plus a courtyard with a great hall, a wooden drawbridge, lovely views over Napa Valley, and many beautiful frescoes and murals. Disney Studios filmed a movie here called Bedtime Stories. This is a winery where you absolutely must take the extensive guided tour to fully appreciate what it has to offer.  Allow at least two hours for the tour and tasting.

The winery was the dream of  Dario Sattui, owner of V. Sattui Winery.  When originally purchased, the property included 170 lovely acres of forest with a stream and lake plus a great Victorian home that was one of the first to be built in Napa Valley.  The purchase came with a permit to build a large winery building, a permit that took over thirteen years to obtain.  Initially Mr. Sattui planned to use the property as additional vineyards for his V. Sattui Winery, but his fascination with Italian medieval history inspired him to build the castle and grounds.  He was already familiar with ancient Italian architecture because he owned a small castle near Florence, a medieval monastery near Siena, and a Medici palace in southern Tuscany. His interest was actually more than a fascination, perhaps an obsession.  The project of creating this medieval Italian setting in Napa Valley began in 1994 and did not open to the public until 2007.  The history of Castello di Amorosa may be read here: History

We made our appointment primarily for the tour because we had heard so many positive reports from fellow local Napans who did not even drink wine.  At the end of our tour we tasted their regular flight wines.  Because we visited primarily for the tour, I did not take tasting notes.  Their Merlot had great reviews, and my friend bought a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon which he liked.  Our tour host was enthusiastic and used a great deal of humor.  Many of my wine critic  acquaintances informed me afterwards that we should have requested the reserve tastings, especially their Italian varietals, because these are much more serious wines. We hope to return to carefully taste their Italian varietals and reserves.

Castello di Amorosa
4045 N St. Helena Hwy
Calistoga, CA 94515

(707) 967-6272
Date of visit: March 22, 2010

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. Nov-Feb)  Tastings open to the public but reservations required for tours.  Definitely do a tour.  Please call or check their webpage for current hours.

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