Exploring castles is exciting for me. I love to imagine what life was like for its early inhabitants . I love to learn about their daily habits and interests and compare them to my own. I love how the coolness of the rough hewn bricks makes me think about the textiles they would have needed to stay warm and comfortable. Visualizing the amount of candles they would have needed to light the place? Pure seduction for me.
I. love. castles.
Castello di Amorosa is a labor of love by businessman, fourth generation vitner and dreamer, Dario Sattui. It's an authentically-built, 13th century inspired Tuscan castle and winery in Napa Valley. If you didn't read their educational pamphlets and signage around the property, you would never know that the Castello was built in 1994.
Josh is about to make an offer that they can't refuse.
The grounds are massive and the castle is an impressive 121,000 square feet with 107 rooms outfitted with authentic Italian art and decor. There are four separate levels underground and four levels above.
Here are some stats:
- 1 million bricks imported from Hapsburg castles in Europe
- 900 feet of caves
- 500 year fireplaces
- 8,000 tons of locally quarried stone
- 300 year old Iron maiden in the dungeon
The masonry, ironwork and woodwork were hand-fashioned using old world crafting techniques. Visiting the Castello is like stepping onto a blueprint drafted by a Medieval master architect.
The Great Hall frescoes were hand painted by an Italian artisan who spent two years on this project. I mean, you can't skimp on the wallpaper, when a working 300 year old fireplace was brought over from Tuscany and you have a hand carved feasting table.
In addition to beautiful vineyards, the Castello is home to roaming peacocks, goats, sheep and chicks. Our calming, au naturale entrance to this environment had me daydreaming about where I could raise chickens and goats in Los Angeles. Obivously, Topanga Canyon would be where that goes down.
For $25 per ticket, we could explore multiple levels of the castle and enjoy a tasting of Italian-style wines, sold only at the Castello. There's a $20,000 luxury tour option, but we passed this go-around. Maybe for our 50th wedding anniversary?
Josh and I started exploring castles together on our first international trip together to Italy and we've visited several since then: Versailles, Drumlanrig, Caerlavarock, Comlongon, Castello Alfonsino, Tower of London and Hearst Castle.
We spent about an hour wandering through the main areas of the Castello and I was spell-bound by the craftsmanship, which was done by hand by one family in Italy. The Mariani family created every nail, hinge, lock, and chain link over an open forge.
An antique grape press
I'll never forget our private, premium wine tasting for $25 in the cellar. Our server, Annie was from the Comté region in France and made the entire afternoon such a lovely experience. She was very excited that I knew about the strong, but sweet cheese that comes from her hometown.
2013 CABERNET SAUVIGNON, Napa Valley
2013 SANGIOVESE, Napa Valley
2012 IL BRIGANTE, Red Wine Blend
2013 ZINGARO, Old Vine Zinfandel
2016 PINOT GRIGIO, North Coast
2016 GRAPE JUICE, Muscat Canelli
We purchased several bottles at the end of our tasting, including some for my awesome colleagues at PwrdBy and a Chardonnay for when my mom visits. The gift shop was extraordinary and I was able to purchase basil-infused grapeseed oil and two bottles of olive oil, all produced on the premises. One of my favorite souvenirs is a cork screw made from a grape vine.
It was fun to hear about their events throughout the year including a Halloween Ball, Gatsby New Year's Gala and Harvest Stomping. If we were locals, I have no doubt we'd be stomping and dancing there every chance we got :)