Lovely Bothe Napa State Park
Never have I ever been on the tour of Castello di Amorosa before, and it was amazing. This is a mere mile up the road from Bothe Napa State Park campground, where we have been, many times. It’s confusing that we would not have taken the tour before, but at least we know now! This place reminded us of a modern day Hearst Castle, but with a more unified theme. It is a recent addition to the Napa Valley, as wineries go. Built between 1994 and 2007, it was intended to capture the authenticity of a medieval Tuscan castle. The owner, Dario Sattui, is the great grandson of Vittorio Sattui, who founded St. Helena Wine Cellars in 1885. Dario later founded V. Sattui Winery, which provided him with enough financial success that he was able to launch this dream.
Castello di Amorosa
According to the tour guide, and the literature about the castle, much of the structure is made from items imported from Italy. They say the builders tried to remain true to building techniques from the middle ages, although how they got that permitted, I do not know. It certainly does have the look and feel of a genuine Italian castle though. Of the 121,000 square feet of space, much of it is devoted to the actual production of the wine.
If we had the money, it is guaranteed we would have a torture chamber cave built into our hillside.
Since it is so close to the campground, we were able to walk there right from Dory. It is just over a mile and we got there in plenty of time for our tour to start. Along the way, we enjoyed the vibrant fall colors on all of the grape vines. Once on the tour, we even got to see some late season harvesting in action, and the odor of the fresh pressed grapes was intoxicating, even before the fermentation process had begun. The tour brings you through areas used for wine making, but also through the underground parts, with some purely thematic touches. For example, there is a “torture chamber” room, with artifacts ranging from antique weaponry, to a genuine imported iron maiden. You can take virtual tours on their website, but you do miss out on the highlight: the wine tasting.
You gotta give it up for the workmanship. It really does look and feel authentic.
Our tour guide let us in on a “secret,” which is that supposedly, the grapes harvested in the Fall of 2022 are producing some exceptional wines. We got to sample a Cabernet Sauvignon directly from the barrel, even though it is still a few years away from being ready. It was absolutely delicious, so I can only imagine how good it will be when it comes of age. If you want a good investment in wine, buy Cabernets from 2022 as soon as they’re ready.
I really need this
We got a wine tasting package, which works exceptionally well for me, since Richard does not drink. For each of the five rounds, you are given a choice of 2-4 bottles. No need for me to choose. I got to have a dandy time, while Richard enjoyed a “chocolate tasting.” Really, that just meant he got a box of three really nice chocolates. He’s such a good date though, he even let me taste one of them, so I could experience the full flavor depth of their Merlot.
Nothing beats Napa Valley in the Fall
I left able to walk, but really glad I wasn’t driving. We were able to see the construction of the new Napa Vine Trail, which is going to stretch all the way from Vallejo to Calistoga eventually. What a fabulous idea! That will hopefully get many of the wine drinkers out of their cars and onto their feet or bikes. The trail goes directly to Bothe Napa, and it not only earned me the wine calories, but helped me walk it off before dinner. It was a gorgeous fall day in Napa Valley and I can’t imagine a better way to spend the time.
Richard rode a part of the Franz Valley Road loop before he flatted and called for help. Many of the roads up there are pretty beat up. Plus, he was not looking forward to riding back on Highway 29, considering how many drunk drivers there might be out there.
There is even a drawbridge
Sunday we woke to rain and an extra hour. For the record, we are not fans of Pacific Standard Time, since it means more campground arrivals in the darkness. But honestly, if they would just stop changing it back and forth, that would be a big improvement.
Funny story: the artist who painted this was visiting from abroad and got stuck when the borders closed during COVID. So he painted this wall fresco. Some people made sourdough, he replicated the Gates of Hell from Dante’s Inferno. I mean, what are ya gonna do?
I love our new hobby of taking winery tours in Napa and look forward to the next one. I highly recommend this tour if you are visiting Napa. I don’t see how you could be disappointed, unless you are working really hard at being grumpy. Now we want to grow grapes. Maybe when the construction is over we can plant like five grape vines on our hillside and make one glass of wine a year. I wonder if they sell tiny French oak barrels that cost less than $1500 for two uses. Wine is fun. Camping is fun. Camping with wine is super fun.
Total miles: 63.3, 16.0 mpg, 2 hours 33 min. Site 7. No solar, no hookups. Sparse cell for ATT, but a little better for Verizon. No dump.