The Road to Napa
Oxbow Public Market

Castello di Amorosa

The first vineyard we visited was a magnificent property up in Calistoga called Castello di Amorosa ("Castle of Love"). It is the creation of Dario Sattui, a 4th-generation vintner who also owns V. Sattui Winery down the road in St. Helena, and whose great-grandfather first created a vineyard in San Francisco in 1885.

The younger Sattui set out to build an authentic, medieval Italian castle and perfect his Italian wines. It took him 14 years to complete the 107-room structure which covers 121,000 square feet and features a moat, drawbridge, torture chamber, chapel, and great hall. The surrounding grounds are stunning, including not only the vineyard but a small vegetable garden, sheep, peacocks, chickens and a two cats, Sir Lancelot and Lady Guinevere.

No detail was left to chance as Sattui imported authentic artifacts to complete the rooms (the torture chamber has a 300 year old iron maiden, the courtyard has a 200+ year old Tuscan grape press, the great room has a 500 year old fireplace surrounded by frescoes painted by Italian artists) and completed all masonry, iron, and wood work by hand, using traditional methods.

Beneath the castle is a 2-acre barrel cellar with big oak casks stacked floor to ceiling (and we were told that an empty casks cost $1000 so imagine the value of all those full ones!). This is where we did our tastings, and I purchased a bottle of the Fantasia sparkling red which we enjoyed with dessert later in the week.

As you can imagine, I took a ton of photos of this place; here's a pretty good representation, until I can get them all up on Flickr.

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