You don’t have to go to Europe to explore an Italian castle — just visit Castello di Amorosa in Napa!
I’ve been to Portugal, England, and Wales and visited castles in all three countries, so I figured this Castle in the northern Napa valley was just a tourist attraction — a step below Disneyland.
Well, I was wrong! This is so much better than Disneyland!
While you may never have heard of the wines from Castello di Amorosa because they ONLY sell direct to consumer and to select restaurants, visiting the castle is a MUST SEE experience if you’re in Napa.
Going on the tour is a great way to get kids interested in medieval history, because they have a little bit of everything from a torture chamber to examples of different styles of construction which would have occurred during the length of time that it typically took to build a castle.
You will be AMAZED at how big the castle is — and at how they attempt to achieve an authentic castle experience as well as a wonderful wine experience.
Definitely make a reservation in advance for a tour and tasting! Plan on setting aside plenty of time to enjoy and explore the grounds too as well as tasting the wines.
A goal from the beginning was for the 13th century style castello to be as authentic as possible in its 107 rooms with four underground levels and four above-ground levels; it took 15 years to complete. Dario Sattui, founder, says:
“In my mind, everything had to be authentic, or it wouldn’t be worth the effort. Faking it in any way might be all right for others, but I would know the difference, making it a failed attempt to explore my passion for medieval architecture.
You simply can’t build an ‘old structure’ using modern techniques and tools. It would look fake, and everyone would realize it’s an imitation.
Rather, we were going to build the structure – within the limits of the current building code – using the same techniques medieval builders had relied on eight hundred years ago.”
Dario Sattui comes from an Italian winemaking family– his great grandfather Vittorio Sattui, an Italian immigrant, founded St. Helena Wine Cellars in 1885. Young Dario grew up living at the winery, which Prohibition closed in 1920. Playing in the underground cellars, he dreamed of reviving his family’s business.
I visited during a media event before a barrel tasting event for club members– this castello definitely knows how to have a good time! This weekend, for example, they are having Harvest Celebration and Grape Stomp and next month, they have a Pagan Ball. Check out the upcoming events here.
After the barrel tasting, and getting our photo taken with winemaker Brooks Painter, who is a long time friend of my travel companion Gretel Mays Compton, we went on a tour around the castle.
During the media event, I was given a bottle of their estate Chardonnay:
The other day, we paired the wine with three Italian favorites: linguini ai ricci (fresh linguini pasta with fresh Santa Barbara Channel uni), fried calamari, and a ceasar salad from a kit to which I added fresh anchovies and extra fresh lemon juice.
This is a super easy dinner to prepare that is extra special especially with a wine like this one.
2017 Castello di Amorosa Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay SRP $58
Sample for my review consideration.
Grapes come from southern Napa Valley where they benefit from cool San Pablo Bay and Petaluma Gap breezes.
Color: Buttercup, very golden, yellow gold
Nose: Butterscotch, vanilla, pineapple upside down cake, buttered roasted pineapple
Palate: Lush and full bodied, even voluptuous.
…a Marilyn Monroe kind of wine….
Classic Napa style of rich buttery oaked Chardonnay, yet well balanced with lots of tropical and baked, ripe fruit.
Pairing: This wine loved the triple cream brie. It also went well with our truffle mousse pate. Serve this wine with any rich creamy food. Think shrimp scampi, fried calamari, fried chicken. This wine is so much better with food. To us, it really needs a companion to make it shine. I had it with uni and Cesar salad and was so happy. We tried it with a point reyes blue, and surprisingly enough it handled it. Roast figs topped with caramelized onions and blue cheese crumbles was what Sue thought would go well.
On their website they offer these recipes for quick and easy pairing options:
Happy California Wine Month! What California wines are you celebrating with? We will be publishing articles this month about more California wines and wineries including Tablas Creek, Sosie, and some unusual Pinot Noir wines from unexpected places so stay tuned and subscribe!