Fairy Tale Come True: The Napa Valley Wine Train Castle Tour

August 26, 2019
History & Culture Tasting & Learning

Rising out of the hills and rolling vineyards of Napa Valley is a castle straight out of a childhood fairy tale. Impressive turrets, hand-painted frescos, grand halls, fortified stone walls, classic gardens and courtyards, secret passageways—a trip to Castello di Amorosa is a trip back in time. Let the Napa Valley Wine Train take you to an era of catapults, duels to the death, lords and ladies, and cavernous dungeons for keeping prisoners captive, or aging spectacular California wine. Dine like royalty on gourmet cuisine in the comfort of our lavishly appointed rail carriages, and let a Napa Valley fairy tale unfold before your eyes.

Castle in Morning Sun in a Napa Valley vineyard.

The Winery

Dario Sattui, great-grandson of legendary Napa vintner Vittorio Sattui, returned to Napa in 1975 after spending time abroad, traveling Europe’s great historic cities and learning about the foundations of traditional winemaking. He revived the family winery, V. Sattui which had been closed since prohibition, but dreamed of recreating the great medieval castles he had fallen in love with during his travels. 

For two decades, Dario searched for the perfect plot of land and in 1993 he found it. The Calistoga property had had 171 acres of vineyards (including some of the oldest vines in California, planted back in 1846), forested hills, a winding stream, and serene lake. He knew that this was where he could bring his vision to life. 

Construction of the Castello di Amorosa began in 1994. Dario was determined to make the building as authentic as possible, saying, “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. You can’t fake something like this. You either do it right or people will know it’s not authentic."

Fifteen years and 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled local stone later, the 121,000 square foot 13th-century Tuscan castle was complete. The 107-room castle is an architectural marvel, with a moat and functioning drawbridge, five towers, high defensive ramparts, courtyards, vaulted cellars, and landscaped courtyards. 

An underground wine cellar filled with wine.

The Wine

Making Italian-style wines was always part of Dario’s master plan for Castello di Amorosa, and that’s exactly what the winery does. Structured, well-balanced, and intensely flavored, the wines of Castello di Amorosa are made using traditional techniques whenever possible and are crafted so that they showcase the terroir of Castello di Amorosa and Napa Valley.

The director of winemaking, Brooks Painter, has over 30 years of experience and has been making wines at Castello di Amorosa since 2005. In 2014 he won Winemaker of the Year from the American Fine Wine Competition. 

As you’d expect from an Italian-inspired winery in Napa, Castello di Amorosa makes Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Spumante, along with a number of robust red wine blends, rosés, dessert wines, and more.

Part of Dario’s vision for Castello di Amorosa was a direct-to-consumer model, so none of the wines are sold outside of the vineyard (making the onsite shop a must). 

Visitors sit at a bar in a wine cellar, tasting wine.

The Tour

The Castle Winery Tour is one of our full-day winery tours so that you have ample time to dine aboard our vintage train, enjoy your picturesque ride through Napa Valley, and get an extensive tour of Castello di Amorosa. Check-in and boarding begins at 10:30 am, with the train departing promptly at 11:00. Once aboard our gourmet dining car, you’ll be treated to a multi-course gourmet lunch

Start your meal with a refreshing bibb lettuce or freshly prepared soup du jour, then choose between five decadent entrées, including beef or tenderloin, roasted chicken, pan-seared gnocchi, or catch of the day. A gourmet lunch wouldn’t be complete without something sweet, so you’ll finish off your meal with your choice from a selection of fresh, handmade pastries and desserts. Coffee and tea service is also offered. 

Once you’ve been wined and dined, you’ll arrive at St. Helena where your private tour of Castello di Amorosa will begin. You’ll have two hours to tour, taste, and take in all of the magic of this medieval castle before boarding the Wine Train to return to the station. 

Book your Castle Winery Tour online or call 1-800-427-4124.