Italy Around the World: Napa Valley’s Castello di Amorosa by OnedayinItaly

Article originally published January 23, 2015 by OnedayinItaly :

I’m not one of those girls who has a Pinterest board for the wedding that isn’t actually happening after the boyfriend I don’t have hasn’t proposed. But when my parents and I followed a sign off the main road just north of Napa Valley for “Castello di Amorosa”, pulled in through a break in a line of beautiful, tall Italian pines and had our first glimpse of Dario Sattui’s “medieval” castle winery, I immediately thought, “This would be an amazing place to get married!”

We hadn’t planned on going into another winery. We were actually on our way out of town – dogs in the car, luggage in the back – but my patient father pulled into a parking space as my mother and I insisted we go in and check it out.

We crossed over the drawbridge (yes, there’s a drawbridge!) and entered the ticket office, we realized that in order to see any of the castle we’d have to purchase a ticket for a wine tasting. There were various levels – and various prices – that let you see different areas of the castle. Though we wanted to see it all, we thought of my father waiting with the dogs in the car and just bought the tasting with the least access.

Before I continue there’s something you should know about Castello di Amorosa: it was built using only authentic methods and materials, as it would have been built in 12th-13th century Italy. That means that over 8000 TONS of stone were chiseled by hand – not sawed by machine – to build it. Over 200 containers of old, hand-made materials were shipped to Napa Valley to maintain that authenticity. Everything from the candelabras to the doors to the artwork was created by artisans in the same way they would’ve been created almost 1000 years ago.

Mind = blown.

When we entered the castle a set of heavy, arched doors were open to our left. We peaked into The Great Hall, one of the grandest rooms in the castle, and just kept looking, and looking, and looking. Two Italian painters had spent 18 months on the frescoes covering the walls, modeling them on Sienese and Florentine ones from medieval times.

Of course it would make the perfect reception hall…

The Great Hall is one of the only rooms you can see on the lowest-level tour (other than the Tasting Room, of course). Before heading down to the cellars we climbed up a set of stone steps to the loggia. Archways frame the courtyard below, strings of large, glass lights hanging from corner to corner.

A small chapel is entered from the other side of the courtyard, giving a logical flow to a ceremony, drinks in the courtyard and dinner in the Great Hall.

We didn’t get to see the Knight’s Hall…

… or the Royal Apartment, where the resident sommelier conducts private wine tastings.

We did, however pay a visit to the tasting room, down the stairs from the Great Hall. Unlike in the picture below (taken from Castello di Amorosa’s online press kit), when we entered the Tasting Room it was full of people and stocked from side to side with not only wine but every Italian product you could imagine wanting to find having to do with wine.

We wound up buying three bottles. As we were carrying them out to my still-patient-but-growing-less-so father, I noticed one more “authentic” detail that convinced me that Dario Sattui had hit the nose on the head when it came to creating an Italian castle experience in the middle of Napa Valley: a cat, asleep in a window.

Visit Castello di Amorosa’s Official Site.

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