Situated on the hills of Calistoga, California, the castle took over ten years to build with medieval designs, construction methods and tools. Castello di Amorosa, a 136,000-square-foot castle, has five defensive towers with battlements and 1,000-pound hand-hewn doors from Italy. Using materials that include over 8,000 tons of quarried stone, terra cotta roofing tiles and 850,000 bricks imported from Europe, it’s the closest America has to a truly original medieval castle.
With its stunning ground and gardens, the architectural wonder has a drawbridge, chapel, courtyard, coffered ceiling and a 500-year-old fireplace. Nestled in the western hills on 171 acres, Napa Valley’s most unique winery has views identical to the old Italian farmlands of Tuscany. Conversely, the vineyards produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Primitivo and Sangiovese grapes. Castello di Amorosa means “The Castle of Love” in Italian.
Photo Alert: Between the gorgeous countryside and sprawling vineyards of the magnificent castle there are virtually photo ops around every corner!
Castello di Amorosa Highlights
Most importantly, the castle has 95 of the 107 rooms devoted to winemaking. Castello’s most popular vino include Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the Syrah. The wines' unique, robust flavors have garnered awards such as the double gold medal at the 2015 American Fine Wine Competition. Wine expert Robert Parker also awarded Castello’s 2012 Barone Cabernet Sauvignon-93 points.
Fun Fact: Adjacent to the castle is a labyrinth of caves some 900 feet long.
Located in the Diamond Mountain District of Napa Valley, Castello di Amorosa produces over 8,000 cases per year and has vineyards in Napa, Anderson Valley, and the Russian River Valley near Sonoma County. Castello di Amorosa features 17 Italian-style wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Super Tuscan Blends, and dessert wines.
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Pro Tip: Wine Club members can attend the annual Pagan Ball or the New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball. These parties alone are worth joining!
Castello di Amorosa History
Visionary Dario Sattui, a fourth-generation winemaker and passionate Italophile, spent $40 million constructing his dream castle. He succeeded with his wish to bring the old Tuscan country to California. Sattui hoped to honor his great-grandfather Vittorio, who established his own winery in San Francisco in 1885 after emigrating from Italy.
After college, Sattui toured Europe for years, studying and sketching medieval architecture. In 1993, Sattui moved back to California and purchased 171 acres for $3.1 million. He knew for his castle to be authentic – there had to be no shortcuts. Builders used medieval techniques and tools from eight hundred years ago.
Fun Fact: Castello’s torture chamber has an iron maiden reported to be from the late Renaissance, which Sattui bought for $13,000 in Pienza, Italy.
Sattui began construction in 1994. His initial plan to build an 8,500-square-foot chateau without cellars slowly mutated into the 121,000-square-foot fortress with four above-ground levels and four under-ground ones. It took builders ten years to complete the incredible project, landscaped in the backdrop of an Italian countryside. Though it's considered to be a replica, the Castello di Amorosa is truly a genuine castle in every sense of the word.
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The castle opened on April 9, 2007. Sattui not only succeeded in his design, but the quality of Castello's wines has critics raving. Castello sells 50,000 wine cases annually and is one of the most successful wineries in Napa and across the country.
Unfortunately, in 1993, tragedy struck when a fire destroyed Castello’s Farmhouse, a separate 15,000 square foot building about 50 yards from the castle. Luckily no one was injured in the fire. However, the Farmhouse held over 120,000 bottles of wine, worth around $5 million, with the total loss estimated between $15 and-20 million.
Castello Tours/Wine Tasting
The castle is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during March to October and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the months of November to February. The scheduled tours take one to two hours. Castello requires reservations and the cost is $25 per person. After the castle tour, guests can experience an intimate tasting in the II Passiot Room, with a selection of local cheeses specifically paired with Castello’s Italian-style wines.
Pro Tip: To tip or not to tip-that is the question! If you purchase a few bottles or join the wine club, you are not required to tip. In addition, the tasting room associate will receive a commission.
You don’t have to like wine to attend. Non-imbibing adults can tour the mystical castle and marvel at the drawbridge, torture chamber, and mural painting in the Great Hall. The castle welcomes well-behaved children of all ages for the general admission price of $25. No strollers are allowed inside the Castello.
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Pro Tip: Dress warmly in the castle! The guided tour takes you into the underground caverns where the temperature drops significantly.
The castle is ADA compliant and includes an elevator to take guests from the courtyard to the underground tasting room.
Plan Your Visit to Castello di Amorosa
Calistoga, the town three miles north of the Castello, is home to fabulous restaurants, premier lodgings and world-famous hot springs. Napa Valley has more Michelin-star restaurants per capita than any other wine region in the world. Castello offers complimentary corkage for its Italian-style wines to pair with your lunch or dinner meals. Check Castello’s website for hotel and dining options.
Pro Tip: You can’t see the castle from the highway, so you need to look for the sign.
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Check the website for detailed directions. Castello di Amorosa is located between St. Helena and Calistoga on CA Highway 29.
Pro Tip: Lake Mario, set on the Castello property is a beautiful area available to rent for private wine education events.
No weddings or receptions are allowed on the grounds due to Napa County codes, no; however, fundraisers and corporate gatherings are allowed.