Driving up a scenic hillside, you come upon a fairytale-like castle. No, you're not dreaming. It's the Castello di Amorosa -- the creation of Dario Sattui, who also owns the V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena.
Although this structure is fairly new (it was completed in 2007), the stones are not.
Taken from an Italian monastery, the stones were imported and assembled into a full-scale replica of a medieval Tuscan castle. No small task...it took 14 years and $30 million to plan and build this authentic 13th-century style marvel.
Surrounding the castle are 30 acres of vineyards, in the Diamond Mountain District of Napa Valley.
This region near Calistoga is "above the fog line," as locals say, providing plenty of sunshine and warmth that's ideal for the Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese grapes planted here. These grapes blend beautifully into the "Super Tuscan" wines for which this winery is known.
Tours and tastings don't require reservations (unless you have a large group), but are recommended.
Allow plenty of time for Castello di Amorosa -- even the parking lot is big, and this popular place is bustling with visitors.
With 107 rooms on eight levels, the guided walking tour is extensive and takes about an hour. Try to stay with your guide. It would be easy to lose your way in this 121,000-square-foot castle.
Every tour includes a wine tasting (another 45 minutes) in the Grand Barrel Room. You'll taste the Italian-style wines straight from the barrel, plus enjoy a tasting of the new releases.
You'll need to make reservations ahead of time for some of these...and it'll cost more...but aren't you worth it?
4045 North St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga, CA 94515 * 707-967-6272 * www.castellodiamorosa.com
9:30am to 5:00pm November - February
9:30am to 6:00pm March - October
Closed December 25th
Grand Barrel Party ~ May 5, 2017
Midsummer Medieval Festival ~ June 16, 2017
Hot Havana Nights ~ July 28, 2017
Harvest Celebration & Stomp ~ September 22, 2017
Pagan Ball ~ October 27, 2017
Holiday Wreaths for Charity ~ December 2, 2017
New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball ~ December 31, 2017
Check events on the website to get all the details. You'll want to schedule these celebrations in advance.