Castle of Love

Published: May 11th 2012
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We spent a wonderful day yesterday touring the Napa Valley, tasting wine and soaking in the sights. The tremedous acreage of grapes growing and number of different Vineyards was a real treat to see. Our tour started in the trendy town of Napa itself. We ate a really nice wood-fired pizza and sipped wine at the completely redone Napa Mill Complex. Formerly a working Mill and Grain Elevator it has taken on new life as a commercial shopping and dining development. After leaving the cute town we did a tasting at one of our favorite labels, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars which was over on the Silverado Wine Trail. Crossing back toward the west we passed miles of scenic vineyards and farmland as we continued North along Hwy 29.

A real highlight was our visit to Castello di Amorosa, the "Castle of Love". It is a real Tuscan Castle built on a hill overlooking the northern Napa Valley. Authentic craftsmen, materials and furnishings were brought from Europe and the Vineyard owner spent 38 million dollars to build his dream castle. It is made primarily with local stone, but they brought over a million huge 200 year old bricks from Europe. There is over 120,000 sf of space in the Castle and that includes the Winery, Warehouse, Offices, Shops, Banquet Halls and four underground levels that house a huge wine cellar and tasting rooms. Real Roman architecture and all those huge bricks were used in the underground and the effect is overwhelming. It is actually as nice or nicer than anything we saw in Italy. The owner is from Italy and all of the wines there are made in the Tuscan style. The Castle was fantastic, but the wines weren't nearly as good as Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.

Finally, tired and a little tipsy we settled in at Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort in Calistoga, CA. A 1950's style Motel build over therapeutic hot mineral springs, it was both soothing and not too damaging on the budget compared to the brand new ritzy spas all over Calistoga. In truth the place has been completely refurbished, looks great and the bed was one of the most comfortable hotel beds we've had in a long time.

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