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I am happy to help you plan your trip to Napa.  If you need a free winery trip planning agenda please give me as much time as you can due to the large number of requests.  I can typically turn around a custom agenda in 3 days.

Happy also to help you with restaurant and hotel recommendations, all honest and unbiased and based on my own experiences.


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Local Wally's Blog to Napa |

Read Local Wally's Blog to Napa for up to date news, features, and stories from Napa Valley. Guest Posts Welcome!

Filtering by Tag: castello di amorosa

Not Napa Auto Parts! I Want Napa Valley Deals!!

Local Wally

Yo Google, I know you do the best you can but when I search for Napa I mean Napa Valley, not Napa Auto Parts! I want to go wine tasting, not change my oil. And I want deals. Lots of them.

No Auto Parts here at Napa Style - but lots of good Wine and Food stuff!

No Auto Parts here at Napa Style - but lots of good Wine and Food stuff!

What Kind of Deals Are There for Napa Valley?

You can search the internet for Napa Wine Tasting Deals and they basically fall into these categories:

  • Coupons: Pro’s - free. Con’s - lots of fake coupon sites out there that make you jump through hoops only to find that there really isn’t a deal.

  • Phone Aps: Pro’s - Cheap way to get some deals. Con’s - Not always up to date, some deals are actually just reworkings of deals offered for free on other sites.

  • Chamber of Commerce Passports: Pro’s - Some have some good deals such as the Downtown Napa card that let’s you taste for pennies at the downtown tasting rooms. Con’s - The Chamber of Commerce deals are very limited in scope as they want you to stay in their own little area.

  • Priority Wine Pass: Pro’s - Lots of wineries, from big names like Beringer to small boutiques. There are even deals on hotels and the Napa Wine Train. Con’s - Like the other deal options you won’t find Castello di Amorosa (the Napa Castle), Robert Mondavi, Domaine Chandon, or Mumm Napa on it.

WWWD? (What Would Wally Do?)

First, who am I? I’m Local Wally. I wrote the original batch of articles on Napa for TripAdvisor, the ones you probably already read and are woefully out of date. I came up with the Napa on a Budget tagline back when Napa wine tasting was still cheap and no one cared about budget and the very first guy to collect and publish every deal in Napa on a website. I’ve worked with all of the discounters and know all of the deals out there.

So for me the best Napa Valley deal is the Priority Wine Pass. You only need one pass per couple, it’s good for a full year from purchase, it works in Napa and Sonoma, and if you get the pass you also get something that no other discounter can offer - ME. That’s right, I want to make sure that if you bought the pass because of my recommendation that in the end you LOVE the pass so every pass comes with free advice from me, including a stop by stop itinerary that I custom build just for you - not a cut and paste copy job.


Are there Deals at Castello di Amrosa?

Are there Deals at Castello di Amrosa?

How to Get a Deal at Castello di Amorosa, the Napa Castle

Everyone wants to go to the Napa Castle. It’s a full scale, Game of Thrones castle but instead people killing each other there’s wine. You will see other sites that claim to have an “exclusive” deal at the castle but as Elaine said on Seinfeld they are most likely fake, fake, fake. The ONLY legit deal I know is on the Priority Wine Pass but there is a catch - it comes with the Napa Wine Train excursion. That ain’t cheap but it’s a fun splurge. You can read all about the Napa Wine Train Castle Winery Tour Excursion here but to cut to the chase it’s $300 per person.

With your Priority Wine Pass they will knock off $25 per person, up to four people with one pass. Hey, it’s something, right? And it’s legit. Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.

Sterling Vineyard and the Tram Ride

Sterling Vineyard and the Tram Ride

How to Get a Deal at Sterling Vineyards

After the castle everyone wants to ride the tram at Sterling Vineyards and taste wine at the top of the mountain. If you have the Priority Wine Pas you get TWO FOR ONE so you save $35. No need to make reservations either, you just show up and show your pass.

I also have a FREE $10 off promo code I will send you if you email me. Totally free, no catches. By now you must know how to email me, right? OK, one more time….

Is Napa Valley Just Like Disneyland Now?

Local Wally

Happiest Place on Earth? Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley

Happiest Place on Earth? Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley

How to Find (or avoid) Disneyland Napa

Napa Valley has many personalities but the one that seems to stick these days is that Napa Valley has become “just like Disneyland”. Depending on who is saying it this is either a compiment (“It’s so fun - and there’s wine!!”) or disparagement (“Auggh, the crowds, the cost, the traffic!”). A lot of well meaning guidebooks focus on one or the other, discounting the alternatives, but that’s not right. It depends on what kind of experience you are looking for - a lively party Napa, or a more romantic and quiet one. And both can be had on the same weekend if you know where to look.

Is Sonoma Better? Oh, Stop It!

Right after the Disneyland comparison you will often hear how Napa is spoiled and Sonoma is the place to be. I totally disagree with this. I love Sonoma (check our but the idea that Napa is somehow spoiled or ruined is just not true. Napa has over 400 wineries and over 300 of them now require reservations. Making reservations is a form of crowd control and unlike Disneyland where limiting the number of visitors at Star Wars Galaxy Edge still means monster crowds, a reservation in Napa means you get your own slot, your own space, your own private or semi-private experience - away from the masses. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Some people will want the Disneyland excitement of Napa, the massive wineries, the mega tasting rooms, and there’s nothing wrong with that! So here are my top picks for the most popular, the most Disneyland-esque wineries in Napa.

The Best Napa Wineries for the Disneyland Experience

If you are coming to Napa for the first time, if you are hanging with friends just looking for a weekend getaway, if you just want to drink wine versus tasting wine to buy, then these wineries will be right up your alley.

  1. CASTELLO DI AMOROSA - THE NAPA CASTLE: This is insane, an actual full size castle built in the same manner as they would have built a castle back in the middle ages. Everything is authentically recreated, right down to the dungeon and hand painted frescoes. The basic tasting experience gets you in through the front doors but the tours will take you deep into the castle, a Game of Thrones sort of experience that can’t help but impress. TIP: Come early as they close the doors once they hit their daily number of visitors.

  2. V. SATTUI WINERY: If the exterior of V. Sattui looks a bit like the Napa castle it’s no surprise - the same person owns both. V. Sattui is the picnic spot in Napa, a full deli inside, an expansive picnic area outside, and always a lively crowd.

  3. DARIOUSH WINERY: A Persian palace exterior, a trendy Las Vegas feel to the interior, Darioush Winery certainly stands out. You expect to see Lara Croft jumping from column to column with a machine gun strapped to her back. You have to see this one, you really do!

  4. DEL DOTTO VINEYARDS AND WINE CAVES: Adventure into the wine caves where you’ve be surrounded by barrels and barrel tastings! With three locations in Napa Valley pick the cave that suits your personality - go rustic in the historic caves handpicked out of the rocky mountainside, or go total Las Vegas in their over the top Italian caves surrounded by marble and intricate tiles. It’s all fun, do all three!

  5. HALL ST HELENA: When I first started visiting Hall Winery it has a tiny tasting bar about the size as the one in my kitchen. That all changed with a remodel that increased the size of the tasting room to what seems like Marriott Ballroom dimensions. And that adds to the lively party feel to this “no reservations required” experience. Head outside to see the vineyards for a breather.

  6. STERLING VINEYARDS: With a tram ride that takes you to the picturesque hilltop winery, you have to do Sterling! What? Tram ride? That’s right, just like the old Skyway ride at Disneyland. But unlike Disneyland where the tram just went back and forth, the Sterling tram takes you to wine tasting and killer views of the valley.

    WANT A DISCOUNT ON THE TRAM? Just email me and I’ll send you a totally free promo code for $10 off per person on the tram ride and tasting experience. Free. I mean that.

Want to Avoid the Disneyland Experience? Visit these Napa Wineries!

If you want a quieter Napa experience then get your phone out and make reservations at the following wineries, all of them my personal favorites.

  1. AXR NAPA VALLEY: It’s a bit hard to find, tucked away near Beringer (wait, add Beringer to your Disneyland experience!) but will feel like a totally different world. This is a private tour and tasting where you’ll take a walk into the redwoods with a glass of wine, visit a fairy circle (you will see, it’s cool), and then head in for a tour, maybe a sip from the barrels, and some of Napa’s best wines. 90 minutes, you’ll savor each one.

  2. SWANSON VINEYARDS: You’ll swear you’ve stumbled into the French countryside when you pull into Swanson Vineyards. The outdoor area is just charming with rustic tables next to the vineyards. Inside the Sip Shoppe is perhaps the most enchanting and whimsical tasting room I have ever seen - it was co-designed by the late Kate Spade. Private tastings, very fun and casual, romantic as can be. Sip here all afternoon, you’ll be very happy.

  3. MAXVILLE LAKE WINERY: Don’t let the 15 minute drive off the Silverado Trail sway you from visiting Maxville Lake Winery. It’s one of the most beautiful modern wineries in Napa, one that no one seems to know about. A reservation here usually means you have the entire winery to yourself, including the outdoor area that’s perfect for a picnic with a view of the lake. Tours of the caves, barrel tastings, they are open to whatever sort of experience you want.

  4. KRUPP BROTHERS WINERY: The gates swing open and you drive the narrow road to what appears to be a genuine Italian villa, stone buildings with a view of the vineyards and small lake. It’s a hidden gem, not to be confused with their downtown tasting room. Make reservations here and you will forget all about the castle.

  5. REGUSCI WINERY: A historic stone winery, one of Napa’s oldest, in a romantic setting that looks straight out of the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Come during harvest and you’ll even see them shaking the olive trees in front. Reservations required means the tasting room never gets that crowded and their staff is one of the friendliest in the valley. Highly recommended, and their wines are top rated.

I Wouldn’t Be Local Wally if I Didn’t Tell You About Discounts!

Many of Napa’s wineries offer discounts, including some listed in this article. You can always reach out to me and I’ll help you personally pick wineries, either Disneyland or not, and show you the best deals. Or search yourself on this complete list of Napa deals. You will need a Priority Wine Pass to get the deals but remember you only need ONE for every two people. The pass is $39.99 if you use this link to get it with my discount.

And you can always email me of you have questions! I am one guy doing this with the simple goal of making sure that you have the best time in Napa. I don’t charge for free advice (that’s why it’s free!) so go ahead and ask.