Exploring California – Castello di Amorosa
Nothing quite compares to the rolling hills of Tuscany or the Castello (castles) of Europe but locally, I think Napa Valley and the wine country comes pretty close, especially with my visit to this beautiful Amorosa castle/winery in the city of Calistoga.
If you haven’t heard yet, California has been getting a lot of rain this winter. It seems as if Mother Nature is coming back with a vengeance and is making up for the drought these past few years. The heavy rain caused the water levels to rise so high in Oroville dam – the tallest dam in America – that they finally had to use the emergency spillway for the first time. When the spillway broke, it prompted emergency evacuations from the area. I live a little over an hour south of the Oroville dam and we too have been getting plenty of rain and strong winds. So on the weekends, my honey and I have sort of become a sunshine chasers! 🙂 This past weekend, I checked the weather in the area and noticed the partly sunny forecast in Calistoga so that is where we headed.
For a while now, I have been wanting to visit Castello di Amorosa, a winery located in the northern tip of Napa Valley. I never quite make it up that far because I tend to stop at my favorite vineyard, V. Sattui and then make my way back down to Artesa then Domaine Carneros, which are spectacular in their own ways. This time though, I had my heart set on the castle so I made sure we drove there first.
We arrived at about 10:30 AM, a perfect time because the place was not too crowded just yet. When we reached the property, we were treated to this view.
One thing I immediately noticed was how organized and well-ran this place was. They had ushers directing traffic so we immediately settled on a parking spot. The next thing I noticed was the sound of melodic, clanging bells coming from 3 sheeps roaming and running freely in the property. Luckily, I was able to get up close to take some pictures.
Not only did they have lamb and sheep, but they also had chickens and these goats; all just relaxing and foraging and eating grass organically.
After wandering the grounds, we embarked on our tour of the castle.
The first stop was the Great Hall. This beautiful room is used for special events and entertaining. I absolutely love the deep, rich colors of these frescoes, and the windows at the top allowed the light to come in adding a magical touch.
Next, we ushered ourselves into the courtyard.
Finally, we walked downstairs to the tasting room. I decided to do the chocolate/wine pairing. The sommelier poured me wine in this order: Moscato, La Fantasia, Simpatica, Barbera and Gioia. The two that left an impression on me were the La Fantasia, which is a semi-sweet, soft sparkling wine, and the Barbera. This red wine was a crowd favorite. It had a a brusque, strong flavor and contains 15% alcohol but it is very smooth. However, I ended up purchasing the Moscato instead because I loved its crisp, clear and semi-sweet flavor.
With the wines, I had these cute and creamy little chocolates that really complemented the wines.
After the wine tasting, we wandered off to the Chapel and the Fattoria. The Fattoria had flavored olive oil (my favorite was the basil) and some knick knacks for sale.
Lastly, we walked up to the Upper Terrace to see the view from the top.
We ended our tour and started our way back down Hwy 128. We stopped by The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, which I will tell you about in a different post. We continued our drive south and ended up again at V. Sattui (I just can’t stay away!).
My favorite part about this winery is that they have an abundance of wooden picnic tables and chairs in the premises. On a sunny day, this is the perfect spot to be! You can get food either from their deli or if you have a finer palette, there is a Dean and DeLuca across the street. You can enjoy your food and pair it with V. Sattui wines.
Interestingly enough, I found out that V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa are actually owned by the same person, Dario Sattui. No wonder I like both these vineyards so much! V. Sattui was built first, then Castello di Amorosa in 2007. With its fascinating details from ironwork to hardware, the latter took 15 years to make! What about you? Have you even been to Napa? Which is your favorite vineyard and why?