Castello di Amorosa! What a gorgeous place with some seriously delicious wines (and surprisingly, chocolate). We went here right and did a self-guided tour before heading to the Bale Grist Mill. Many of the rooms are not accessible with a child under the age of 4 (I think), so there was a lot that we missed out on, but it was still a great little trip. Mostly because I got to drink some wine. 🙂
Instead of trying to write about why this place exists myself, I’m going to quote its creator, Dario Suttui:
“Castello di Amorosa is a 30 year labor of love; a culmination of my life’s dream to build an authentic Tuscan castle in the Napa Valley where I could make outstanding Italian-style wines. I built Castello di Amorosa (Castle of Love) because of my passionate, all-consuming desire to create something extraordinary, to honor my Italian heritage, of my deep love of medieval architecture, and because of my commitment to making superior wines in a magnificent setting.”
“Determined to make the Castello authentic in every respect, I used only old, hand-made materials and I built it employing the same methods and materials that would have been used 700-800 years ago.”
“With two thirds underground, the Castello contains 8 levels (4 of which are underground), 107 rooms – each one of which is beautiful and distinctive from the others – and it totals 121,000 square feet or 3 acres of rooms.”
“The Castello contains all the elements a medieval castle would have possessed – a moat, drawbridge, 5 towers, high defensive ramparts, courtyards and loggias, a deep well, a functioning church, stables, an outdoor oven, an apartment for the Nobles, a Great Hall and even a prison and torture chamber, and some of the most beautiful wine cellars in the world.”
TL;DR: This is what happens when a guy is filthy rich, has a lot of free time, and loves Tuscan castles and winemaking.
95 out of the 107 rooms are devoted to wine making. Crazy, isn’t it?
The really amazing part, though, is the fact that this guy, Dario Suttui, is really a self-made millionaire, if not billionaire.
Sure, he inherited his family winery, the Suttui winery, in 1972, but it wasn’t a very profitable winery at the time.
He studied and received a B.S. from San Jose State and an M.B.A. from Berkeley. Then he invested $8,000 into improving the winery (about $45k in today’s money).
He had dreamt of making wine like his great grandfather since he was a child, and he worked very hard to make that same dream a reality.
After 21 years of operating the Suttui winery, he began production on the Castello di Amorosa. Construction took 30 years, as I quoted earlier. The castle finally opened to the public in 2007. Now, the public can tour a selection of rooms in the castle, as well as taste and purchase wines and other curated items like chocolate, aerators, culinary oils, aged vinegars, and even fine soaps.
The architecture really is beautiful.
And I can certainly vouch for the wines’ tastiness. It’s a shame that Castello di Amorosa wines are only available on location or through their website (no third party retailers). I’d buy them if I came across them in the wine aisle at the grocery.
Especially because I really fell in love with their highly unusual late harvest Gewürztraminer, which was syrupy sweet like a good ruby port but certainly not sickeningly so.
Their Fantasia wine was also delicious. A sweet, fruity, sparkling wine that even wine haters would love.
And if you truly don’t want wine, they do have grape juice tasting. 🙂 Mike doesn’t drink, so that’s what he ended up doing. He didn’t care for the juice, but I thought it was very good.
Or maybe it was just because I was a bit tipsy by then. I don’t know.
I did end up walking into the men’s bathroom by accident, after all.
Until next time,