Sitting high on a hillside, the Castello di Amorosa (“The Castle of Love”) commands a spectacular view of the Napa Valley. The impressive structure can be best described as part fairy tale as well as part legend. Its unusual history draws visitors from all over the world. This architectural masterpiece was created by Dario Sattui, and it was built with materials and furnishings he had personally selected and shipped from Europe.
All the Elements of a Medieval Castle
The Castello began as a young man’s dream, and after Sattui completed the family farmhouse on grounds. His passion for medieval architecture completed the structure after 30 years of labor. Patterned after a medieval castle, the Castello contains:
- a moat
- a drawbridge
- 5 towers
- high defensive ramparts
- courtyards and loggias
- a deep well
- outdoor oven
- living quarters for the Nobles
- Great Hall (featuring a portrait of Sattui as The King)
- prison and torture chamber
- 171 acres (30 acres of vineyards)
An Eye for Medieval Italy
While touring Castello di Amorosa, you will realize that so much thought went into its planning. Although most of its visitors may not be experts in medieval architecture, so many details built into the castle will easily catch the attention of an untrained eye. Pause to admire the work created by craftsmen from another era.
How many gargoyles and dragons did you see? Did you know that incorporating iron with heavy Italian oak doors had to do with a landowner’s wealth? And how about the stone lookouts built high into the castle walls as a way to warn inhabitants of any intruders? Of course, there are many windows in need of a little housekeeping, but no type of ladder will reach them. Don’t forget to run your fingertips over the century-old brick that was specially imported from Europe.
Castello di Amorosa is surrounded by a peaceful medieval farm setting and the family vineyards. A goat and chickens roam freely through the vineyards surrounding the Castello. Sheep are kept in a fenced area. Domesticated and wild ducks can be found in the greenish waters of the castle’s moat. Surrounded by rustic fences, an emu watches over its sleeping mate. The animals feel safe here, so there is no reason for them to wander away from the castle.
The authentic, 13th century Tuscan castle-winery boasts award-winning Napa Valley wines, wine tastings and wine and food pairings. For four generations (over 125 years), winemaking is the a Sattui family specialty. Unlike the name wineries in the area that are widely known to produce for the masses, Castello di Amerosa produces only 15,000 cases per year. Their wines are sold directly to the consumer.
Visiting Castello di Amorosa
“Pay to tour the castle,” suggests a frequent visitor.
Reservations are suggested for all tours. A guided tour is highly recommended because it will help the visitor navigate the underground tunnels of the Castello. Taking one wrong turn may get you lost. Getting out of the tunnels could be very confusing as well as time-consuming.
The Castello may bring out your extreme need to take numerous photographs. The tour guides ask photographers in the group not to wander off and take pictures. Be courteous to those in your tour group. Don’t hang back just to take photographs. Keep up with the group. The guided tours follow a schedule, so don’t expect your guide or your group to wait on you.
The Castello di Amorosa means a family-friendly outing for most visitors. Although wine tasting is an activity strictly for adults, there is Castello history, architecture and the Napa Valley landscape to enjoy. Don’t forget to bring your camera as a way to record this memorable Napa Valley destination because there is so much to see. Once you’ve visited the Castello, you’ll know what people are talking about when they mention a certain castle they visited in the Napa Valley. Once you’ve left the area, the memories of the visit will linger. Most likely, you will probably return to the Castello or encourage others to visit.
According to Castello staff, the best time to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma County is in the fall. They warn that crowds always pack the castle during weekends and the holidays–making it hard to make reservations. Visiting is encouraged during the week. To completely avoid the crowds, you can always visit Castello di Amorosa on a cold and rainy winter day. This is one way to have the castle all to yourself.
V. Sattui Winery and Italian Market
In nearby St. Helena, several miles from Castello di Amorosa, why not stop for more wine tasting and relax on grounds with a gourmet picnic? The V. Sattui Winery and Italian Market has an extensive Italian deli with a selection of cheeses, salami, fresh fruit, and desserts. There is also a selection of their award-winning wines, gift items and souvenirs for the return trip home.
More on the Sattui Winemaking Family of Napa Valley