Visiting Castello di Amorosa | Local Wally Visits the Napa Castle
Local Wally take you on a tour of Castello di Amorosa, the Napa Castle, an amazing journey with incredible wines! Worth visiting? You bet! Check for coupons, 2 for 1 tour info.
Visiting Castello di Amorosa - The Napa Valley Castle
Is Visiting the Napa Castle Worth It?
(Napa Valley) High up on a hill is a sight you probably thought you would never see in Napa. You blink in disbelief, but when you open your eyes (watch out, oncoming traffic!) it's still there. Yes, it's a 107 room, 121,000 square foot, full size and to scale medieval Tuscan castle, looking more like something out of The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones than a winery.
It's the Napa Castle, also known as Castello di Amorosa, built by vintner Dario Sattui - yes, the same guy responsible for the incredibly popular V. Sattui's on Highway 29. I know, by now you have all sorts of red flags popping up. After all, V. Sattui is darn near a tourist trap with the hoards of people fighting for a sip of wine inside and an even bigger hoard fighting for a picnic table (or parking space) outside. Is visiting Castello di Amorosa, the Napa Castle, worth it? You bet! It's one of the most unique wineries in Napa Valley and perhaps the world.
What in the (Old) World???!
Construction started in the early 90's, taking 13 years to complete and costing Dario Sattui nearly every dime he had. Insisting on authenticity, Sattui only used materials and techniques that would have been available in the Middle Ages. For example, bricks are held in place with a mixture of lime, sand and water - not cement. Obsessed with perfection, Satuii made regular treks to Europe to visit old castles, snapping pictures and studying the most minute details as he designed and built his own.
You'll find sprawling stone courtyards, five defensive guard towers with battlements, gargoyles, secret tunnels and even a dungeon fitted with real torture equipment. The massive stone bricks were shipped over from Europe, many from the Hapsburg dynasty in Austria, and were hand-hewn using the same techniques employed in medieval times. Even the ironwork was hand-forged over an open fire, the same way it was done 800 years ago, making it look as it it were hundreds of years old.
Look around and you'll see different stones and different construction methods used side by side. This was done to suggest a castle that took hundreds of years to build with periods of war and different economic times - smooth rock and craftsmanship construction was used during the good times, rough rock and rough construction after a war. Come on, who does that? The 1,000 pound doors even feature custom Italian nails, and check out the impressive Great Hall, a huge 70' by 30' room with 22' high ceilings decorated with authentic frescoes and - oh yeah - a 500 year old fireplace.
Two for One, Discount Tour Coupons for Castello di Amorosa?
No - and don't believe any website that tells you otherwise. Castello di Amorosa used to run deals but no longer so pony up the cash if you want to visit the castle. And there is no lookie-loo'ing, you must pay a fee to come inside even if you don't taste.
Come On, Let Your Inner Geek Out and Do the Tour!
You can visit the winery to taste but to really see the castle you need to do the hour and a half tour. The bulk of the time is focused on the castle, so don't expect a "how wine is made" tour. Instead, you'll be treated to secret areas closed off to the casual visitors, a trip to the wine caves, and even a stop in the dungeon where you'll see real torture equipment! Geeky? Maybe, but who cares when you're having this much fun?
You'll also be shown the story of love and lust on the hand painted floor to ceiling Fresco walls and find out how the knights plotted their plans to overthrow the King without being heard by whispering in specific places and allowing their voices to carry discreetly across the domed room. Who designed this room with this fatal flaw? Off with their heads!
I Demand Wine!!
As interesting as the castle is, the wine is still the main draw. The La Castellena, a reserve Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, can best be described as deliciously well balanced, and the Reserve Cab with the hand dipped wax over the cork is clearly a highlight. Nearly all of their wines are outstanding examples of Napa's best.
Casual visitors taste in the main tasting hall but those on the tour will find themselves away from the crowds in a private, more intimate tasting area.
Since its opening in 2007, Castello di Amorosa has been garnering high praise from its visitors, earning it a reputation for being one of the most interesting and unusual tours. Those short on time can still stop in for a taste and a peek, but if you have the time I strongly recommend you put a tour at Castello di Amorosa at the top of you agenda.
- There are no discounts for tastings or tours at Castello di Amorosa no matter what you might see on the various "free coupon" sites. Don't believe anyone who says they have a two for one at Castello.
- Castello di Amorosa can get packed in the afternoon so make it your first stop of the day. Remember, it is located in the north part of the valley so give yourself time to arrive.
- Do the tour - standard tastings only get you into the entrance of the castle. To see it all you must do the tour. As a bonus, those on tour do not taste with the hoards of people but in smaller tasting areas away from the main public.
- Those trying to juggle entertaining kids on their Napa vacation should do the tour and then go across the way to Sterling to ride the tram. That should stop the complaining from the kids for a while :-)
- Wear comfy shoes as there is a lot of walking on the tour, up and down stairs.
- Watch for special events! Incredible feasts with everything but a dragon flying overhead.
- Official Site for Tour Info and Pricing: Castello di Amorosa