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My First Napa Valley Experience in the Castle of Love!

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Castello di Amorosa was my first Napa Valley wine tasting experience. It was a very cool wine tasting food trip made perfect by lovely foodie companions - Cheryl, Amor and Tessa. 

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There are two ways to go to enjoy a Napa Valley food and wine tasting trip, either you join an organized  tour or go on your own and assign a driver who will be sober throughout the trip.

It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach our first winery destination. 

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If it is your first time, it is a bit difficult to decide on where to go based on the brochures and recommendations from different people. There are just too much wineries around Napa and Sonoma area which could get overwhelming for first timers.

In my estimation, a good trip is composed of  3-4 wineries allotting 1 hour per visit. Anything more than this will throw you drunk-- and that's the end of fun as we know it! 

We decided to go to Dario Sattui's Castello di Amorosa because we thought how could you go wrong with a Tuscan Castle Winery?

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We got the General Admission which costs $17 per person and includes a tasting of five Premium Wines in their Main Tasting Bar and access to their two main levels including the Front Towers, Chapel, Great Hall, Courtyard, Stables, and Knight's Hall. 

You have the option to have a tour of the castle for +$15 per person.

Also, You can upgrade at +$10 per person to taste the Reserved Wines

Here's the complete pricing menu.

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We toured the different areas of the castle with childlike wonder.

The authentic Tuscan castle was built by Dario Sattui for over 30 years to honor his Italian family's heritage. Castello di Amorosa literally translates to the Castle of Love because of his  love for medieval architecture and passion for making great wines in a magical setting.

Read complete story of Castello di Amorosa

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Walking through the cobblestone stairway, towards the lower level  Main Tasting room,  adds to the excitement.

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We were greeted by our host Ashley who was dressed in an Uma Thurman's Pulp Fiction character Mrs. Mia Wallace for the Halloween weekend. 

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It was my first wine tasting experience and it was a bit hard to decide which five wines to try. 

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Afraid of making a mistake, I consulted Tessa for some advice. She suggested to taste the expensive wines in this tasting order: White Wines, to the Red Wines, and finally to the Sweet Wines. 

Tessa grew up in San Francisco and has been to Napa Valley a few times already, so I just tasted whatever she confidently chose in the wine menu. 

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Wine #1: 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay ($/27 per bottle). This is a rich and seductive white wine with a toasty oak and buttery bouquet and layers of ripe citrus, pear, and grapefruit. The lingering aftertaste has citrus and mineral overtones and a sweet, woody finish of vanilla and hints of toasted nuts. Try with dungeness crab or other shellfish and rich sauces or herb-basted chicken and mushroom risotto. 

Here's the complete list of Vini Bianchi e Rosato (White and Rose Wines)

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It was a bit surreal for me to have my first wine tasting experience with these experienced ladies. After the first wine bottle, the intimidation quickly turned into relaxed fun.

The Chardonnay was a bit fruity and it was a good start. 

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The before wine-tasting photo :) (Wala pang wine yan :)

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Wine #2: 2009 Zingaro-Russian River Valley - Zinfandel/Primitivo ($25 per bottle)The relatively cool climate of the Russian River Valley allowed for slow ripening of the fruit, resulting in fall flavor development and increased complexity. The balanced activity makes this a great food wine. This wine is peppery, with flavors of red and black berries. 

Here's the complete list of Vini Rossi (Red Wines)

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We all tried the Zingaro except for Amor who does not like Zinfandel (Don't get her started with it). 

It was good for me. At this point, we were wondering to drink all the wine or spit it like professional wine tasters do. I decided to finish it and enjoy every single drop :) 

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Wine #3: 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49 per bottle). Intense aromas of black plum, cassis and green olive with a spicy bouquet of cigar box, cinnnamon and nutmeg. Powerful yet with a supple texture and plush fruit in the mouth, it show layers of ripe red cherry, juicy berry flavors and mocha adding harmony to the mature tannins. A great food wine. 

Chocolate Pairing - $4 additionally per person.

Here's the complete list of Vini Rossi (Red Wines)

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After 3 glasses of wine :) 

Tessa was right, you won't go wrong with ordering Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a full bodied red wine with full berry and cherry flavors. It has a good balance of spicy, fruity and sweetness flavors.

For the best experience, we would crush chocolate chips in our mouth before sipping, and tasting the red wine with it. Sarap! This was a clear winner!

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Wine#4: 2010 "Il Rggio del Sole" (Sunshine) Muscat Canelli, Santa Barbara ($28 per bottle). Enchanting, floral nuances of honeysuckle and hybiscus with intense, fruity aromas of ripe peach and orange-peel in the nose. The wines' sweetness and massive flavors are beautifully balanced with crisp acidity, low alcohol and a lively "spritey" aftertaste. This dessert wine is an extremely luscious, irresistibly engaging and fun wine. Try paired with biscotti, a cheese platter or poured over fresh fruit!

Chocolate Pairing with Sea Salt Chocolate!

Here's the complete list of Vini Dolci (Sweet Wines)

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After 4 glasses of wine :)

 This dessert wine was not too sweet, it was fun to sip paired with sea salt chocolate! Sarap!

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Wine #5: "La Fantasia" (Fantasy), Red Wine ($28 per bottle). An italian style, soft sparking wine which is lower in alcohol, naturally sweet and refreshing with bright aromas of cherry, exotic flowers and wild berries. Darker in color than most rose-style wines, this is loaded with flavor and has more structure. It is absolutely packed with black raspberry, plum and strawberry flavors in the mouth and ample sweetnes which leads to a creamy, round finish. Pairs well with tangy fruit, cheese platters or rich desserts. Perfect for special occassions. 

Here's the complete list of Vini Dolci (Sweet Wines)

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This fantasy red wine has a strawberry sweetness taste and was a great finish to the wine tasting.

Thanks to Ashley for making the experience memorable!

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Tessa's Wine Tasting Scorecard:

Wine#1: OK
Wine#2: OK
Wine #3: THE BEST 
Wine #4: Winner!
Wine #5: Weng Weng Na! 

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Wine tasting in Castello di Amorosa is special because they only produce small qualities and they are only sold in the winery and they don't distribute the wines in the restaurants. 

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You can also taste the wine processed olive oil. 

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Garlic sticks are available for you to taste the olive oil. 

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This was the best -- 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49 per bottle)!

(I wonder can you get this Castello di Amorosa Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in Manila?)

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You can also buy Hand-Made All Natural Beautifully Wrapped Napa Soaps for $9.25 each.

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My favorite was the Chocolata Con Sale Marino or the Sea Salt Chocolate ($4) we paired with the wine! 

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Surrounding the castle are 30 acres of grapes plantation :)

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For Napa Valley First Timers, this is the best place to start your Napa Valley quest :) 

CASTELLO DI AMOROSA
4045 North Saint Helena Highway
Calistoga, CA 94515
Websitehttp://www.castellodiamorosa.com/
For tour and tasting reservations,
call +1 707-967-6272 |  email:tours@castellodiamorosa.com
For wine sales,
call +1707-967-6274 | email:club@castellodiamorosa.com

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Full Disclosure: We paid for our wine tasting. We are not connected in any way to the owners or PR company promoting this establishment.

 P.S. For those who have been to Napa Valley, what are the other recommended wineries to try? Any other tips for first timers?

 

 

 

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My fiance and I got on the Winetrain to tour Napa Valley. It's convenient specially for first timers. We took the Grgich tour, starts with Wine tasting at the train terminal then off to the train where you'll have lunch and wine of course, then a stop over at Grgich Hills where they'll give you a backgrounder and tour of the winery, and of course more wine tasting - think we had 5 rounds, then back on the train for a light snack tapped with coffee or tea to calm you before driving back to town. It was a pretty nice experience - relaxing and chic. We'll definitely try the Castle next time around.

Awesome! I grew up in Santa Rosa, which is in Sonoma County a few miles over the hill from Calistoga. If you have a chance, you should drop by St. Helena and eat at Giugnis Italian Sandwiches or Gott's Roadside (used to be called Taylors Refresher for many years past). Hope you're having a blast, Anton!

Amazing coincidence, Anton. Just got back from that area two days ago. Read about my wine tasting experience in Wine and Spirits Club Phils forum under the title "Rutherford Dust Part I and II. But I'd recommend the Mondavi winery- the old man is credited for starting it all.

Ill be posting on dining experiences soon.

Hi Anton!

My dad, Binky, drove for you in Napa. Sayang he didn't smile nicely in the photo :P

I'm the web editor of Appetite.ph and I'd love to touch base with you soon. :D

-Fatima

Hi Fatima, yes he was very nice. We were talking for hours while the ladies went on shopping in the outlet stores :) Keep in touch!


Anton

People could also take the Napa Dinner Train and do the Vineyards Tour.

Yes, Mondavi is one of the Napa pioneers but the area where I lived for twenty something years, The Tri-Valley Area (Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin/San Ramon)Wente is the man! (Wente Vineyards - intimate concerts with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Colbie Callait), could be very romantic.

Hintay ko lang si Riza then imma take her to these places, though we're not wine drinkers, food and music lang.

I notice you do not put a disclosure for this trip. Nilibre ka ba ni Tessa Prieto? hahaha

Haha, nothing to really disclose on this trip :)

Not as grand as this cellar, but ZD wines was pretty ok. And for steak or other meat to go with the wines in Napa, Rutherford Grill :D !

It was a mistake that we didn't hire a driver. You can get really knocked out with all the wine tasting rooms around the valley :)

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