On the last days of July, 2017, we decided to come back to our favorite castle in California: Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley because I was craving for their grape juice since the last time we visited it in 2013. Besides their famous grape juice, the castle is also well known for their only authentic medieval (13th-century) Italian Tuscan castle and winery built in America. Due to my “fetish” for Medieval stuffs, this castle easily my go to place in California!
After several decades of personal adventure visiting and studying medieval castles and wineries throughout Italy and Europe, Dario Sattui, a successful 4th-generation Italian winemaker and entrepreneur, began building Castello di Amorosa in 1994. Over the course of this marathon project, the Castello has evolved to include over 136,000 square feet, including 107 rooms (90 of which are devoted to winemaking and wine storage); an enormous Great Hall with 2-story replica Tuscan frescoes painted by Italian artists and a 500-year old fireplace; 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled stones; 8 levels (4 above ground and 4 below); a drawbridge, dungeon and torture chamber; medieval church; and arguably the single most impressive wine barrel room in the U.S., with ancient Roman cross-vaulted ceilings.
We left San Jose at around 9AM and arrived their 2 hours later. The traffic was not bad but once we arrived at the castle, they already sold out all of the Guided Tour with Reserve Wine Tasting tickets which allows one to go to the lower level to see the owner’s collection of real Medieval torture chamber 🙁
We took the guided tour in 2013 when the ticket was only $30/person and the only thing that impressed me the most was the torture chamber that includes several devices that were used to torture unfortunate people in the past.
The general tour is a bit cheaper at $25/person that also includes some wine tasting. You can roam around the Great Hall, a church and some rooms on the upper levels.
With the cheapest ticket, we went down to the tasting room and tried some. Since we looked like Chinese tourists, the guy brought out reserve wine that was supposed to be for the private tour and let us try. Well, it did turn out that my relatives really liked the expensive wine and we bought 2 kegs of graph juice and several expensive wine bottles like IL PASSITO Reserve, Late Harvest Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (2011) which they only had 5 bottles left when we were there before they changed to a newer recipe (2012) which will not be as good. We also really enjoyed La Fantasia 2016 (An Italian style soft sparkling wine which is lower in alcohol, naturally sweet and refreshing with bright aromas of cherry, exotic flowers and wild berries), Il Rubino Pinot Noir 2015, and Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2010 (a succulent and deliciously spicy white wine loaded with aroma and flavor, made in a “Noble Rot” dessert, or very sweet, style), which are mostly sweet wine except Pinot Noir which is a complex and well-balanced blend of fruit from some of the best Pinot Noir growing regions in the North Coast AVA. Juicy dark red fruits mingle with earthy spice through to a round and elegant finish.
Alright, I must admit that I’m not a fan of wine and you will hardly see me drink at all so I’d not say that their wine is the best in the world. I do like some of the wine bottles we bought though since I like sweet wine but their grape juice is definitely a must in Napa Valley and they don’t sell grape juice on their website!
One final thing about this place: their chocolate is awesome! Don’t forget to buy some to pair with the wine!