Sunday, May 17, 2015

Napa Winery Day & a Castle

It came up cloudy today, however we had plans to check out some wineries in the area and didn't let that slow us down.  Rt 29 north out of Napa is the shortest way to get on winery row, but we decided to take some back roads for the trip.  I was thinking it would be driving through open fields and level terrain, but once again I was wrong.  The road took us over some of the steepest roads around with twisty roads and 15mph curves.  We loved it.

The first winery was Nichelini which was started in 1884 by homesteaders Anton & Caterina Nichelini.  They planted olive trees and vines and started up making wines.  Nichelini is the oldest family-owned winery in the Napa Valley.

We tasted a number of wines and wound up buying two bottles.  It would have been nice to acquire more wine but storage considerations in the motorhome prevented this.


Gerry by the winery

Original homestead
We drove by a number of wineries; however, we had one specific one that we wanted to make sure we stopped at so it was on to the Castello di Amorosa winery.  It really stands out from the others since it is a castle.

Wikipedia write up.

The castle interiors, which include 107 rooms on 8 levels above and below ground, cover approximately 121,000 square feet. Key details and building techniques are architecturally faithful to the 12th and 13th century time period. Among many other features it has: a moat; a drawbridge; defensive towers; an interior courtyard; a torture chamber; a chapel/church; a knights' chamber; and a 72 by 30 feet great hall with a 22-foot-high coffered ceiling.

The torture chamber has an authentic 300-year-old iron maiden which Sattui states he bought for $13,000 in Pienza, Italy, a replica rack, prison chambers and other torture devices.  The great hall features frescoes painted by two Italian artists who took about a year and a half to complete and showcases a 500 year old fireplace.

The masonry, ironwork and woodwork was fashioned by hand using old world crafting techniques. Building materials included 8,000 tons of locally quarried stone, in addition to paving stones, terra cotta roofing tiles and some 850,000 bricks imported from Europe.  Extending into the hillside adjacent to the castle lies a labyrinth of caves some 900 feet in length. Beneath the castle are a 2-acre  barrel cellar and tasting rooms where visitors can sample the wines-all sold only at the Castle

Along the moat

Am I too early for dinner?

Heading down to the cellar.

Courtyard in the castle

Old wine cart and other antique leftovers

Windy day on the tower

Some of the vines
We tasted 10 different wines at the castle and couldn't find one that we were interested in buying.  It turned out well for the pocketbook since they were expensive wines.  The person behind the wine tasting counter was more interested in talking to an Italian man, selling him cases of wine while giving lousy service to us.  If we go back there again, we will look for another person to help us.

After the tour and tasting we decided to drive further down the road and wound up in Calistoga. We drove around the town.  It looked like a nice quaint place and had a busy downtown area.  We wound up having dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and enjoyed our meals.  Gerry couldn't finish hers since it was so large, and brought half of it back to the motorhome for lunch on Monday.  

We've extended our time here until Tuesday and hope to hit some more wineries on Monday and also check out some Sonoma wineries.  That's the plan as of now, subject to change.

Now it is time to have some flan for dessert and get ready for bed in preparation for a busy day tomorrow.

That was our day, how was yours? 


  1. The castle looks really cool.
    No room for wine? Throw out some of the food. There is always room for more wine.

  2. I would love to see that castle winery even though we don't drink wine. That was just neat. You know, if you guys drank a bottle of wine every night at dinner you would have room to buy another bottle the next day. Just sayin'.