Types of Wines: Castello di Amorosa ambitiously produces 17 Italian-style wines, including Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Super Tuscan Blends and dessert wines
Charge for Tasting: Entrance fee includes basic tasting. Extra fees for the tours and upgraded tasting.
Winery Tours: Tour options at Castello di Amorosa continue to evolve. As of mid-2009, they included two levels of wine tasting and a horse-drawn carriage tour of the vineyards. You can also skip the guided tour, paying just the entrance fee, look around on your own and taste a few of their wines in the main tasting room. They offer special, lower prices for children and young adults. Visit their website for more information.
Wine Price: Prices vary, but most are less than $50 per 750 ml bottle.
ReviewMany scoffed when an Italian-style castle started rising in the middle of a hillside vineyard in northern Napa Valley. I'll admit I was a bit skeptical, too, wondering if Napa was going to start looking like Las Vegas, but all the concern wasn't necessary. Going back to the early days in Napa Valley, vintners have created buildings to honor their homeland. Just look at the lovely Rhine House at Beringer for an example. Owner Dario Sattui set out in a similar vein to honor his grandfather Vittorio by creating something that paid homage to his home in Italy.
By the time it was all done, he had created a 121,000-square-foot, 12th century style, Tuscan castle to house his winery. Built from authentic materials and in the style of real castle that would have been built in sections over many years, it'd as close to Italy as you'll get in the United States. It's so beautiful and created with such care that it's an attraction in its own right, no matter how much you like wine.
Wine Quality: As a fairly new winery, Castello is still establishing its style and in the first few years, it won more awards for its tourist experience than for its wine quality. In 2010, wine expert Robert Parker awarded their 2007 Il Barone Cabernet Sauvignon 94 points and the 2007 La Castellana Super Tuscan Blend 92 points, but you'll have to wait until their 2012 release to try them for yourself.
Tourist Experience: The castle itself is reason enough to go. Most kids (and many adults) especially like the medieval torture chamber, as well as the moat and drawbridge. We like the frescoes in the Great Hall the best, but it's all gorgeous.
Celebrations: Wine Club members can attend the annual Halloween Pagan Ball1 or the New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball - parties so much fun that it's worth joining just to get an invitation.
For a different way to experience the Castello, Latin Mass is held in the Saint Catherine of Siena Chapel at Castello di Amorosa every Sunday morning at 8:30 AM. Proper church attire is requested (women should wear a veil and men a tie).
Getting to Castello di Amorosa Winery
Castello di Amorosa Winery
24045 North Saint Helena Highway
Castello di Amorosa Winery is located between St. Helena and Calistoga on CA Hwy 29. Traveling north, go approximately 5.3 miles past downtown St. Helena. You can't see the castle from the highway, so look for their address and sign. It's the first left about 400 yards past Peterson Rd. Coming south from Calistoga, it's about 2 miles. Take first right (about 100 yard) after Maple.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for the purpose of reviewing Castello di Amorosa Winery. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.
1 Halloween is October 31 but the date for the Pagan Ball may vary.