Monday, March 17, 2014

Napa Valley Vacation - Day 5

Well the title of the blog changed from conference to vacation...that's was the first day of our vacation! And we started it off the right way...we slept in...until 8. HAHA. Isn't that sad when sleeping in is either 7 or 8 AM! Well, it truly was decadent!

After rolling out of bed we managed to get ourselves together and went to the lobby to have breakfast. Again, it was so nice to have real food instead of bean products. :) But don't worry, I had plenty of fruit on my plate to counteract the chilaquiles. LOL

After our lovely breakfast we came back to the room in order to do something horrible...figuring out what we were going to do all day. This always proves to be a bit of a challenge for us...mainly because we don't normally plan ahead so we have these great ideas and then call and find out the thing isn't open or it's not even there anymore. So we had our normal things aren't open anymore and back and forth on what to do...and we finally decided where the day would lead us.

Michael found the Castello di Amorosa which was north of St. Helena. Driving up to the castle was beautiful, its situated on the hillside overlooking the valley, and on either side of the drive are vineyards. When we got to the top of the hill looking back over the valley was amazing.

Looking out over Napa Valley.
It was such a gorgeous day here, the sun was shining again...and the weather was quite lovely. We made our way up to the castle entrance. Now before I go any further, this castle is an authentically-styled 13th century Tuscan castle and winery. It was the vision of Dario Sattui, and the doors to the castle opened to the public in 2007, 15 years after he began building it. It was truly a labor of love! So I'm going to post a ton of pictures...and try to caption most of them.

The entrance to the castle and winery.

I still love the Spanish moss hanging from the trees!

The entrance to the castle.

The moat. Look at how  blue the sky is!

Some of the locals

The entrance to the castle

All of the nails and metal throughout the castle were hand forged in Europe!

I love the brickwork on the floors

We started in the chapel. All of the chairs were hand crafted in Europe.

The altar.

He spared no expense when it came to replicating this castle. Such beautiful arches.

The courtyard.

The other side of the courtyard. Up above on the right is the Royal Apartments.

The chapel.

I couldn't get over the arches...and the staircases.

The Great Hall.

The ceilings and the walls were hand painted by two Italian men.

The scenes on the walls depict stories, and are what you would have found on the walls of these castles.

The view from one of the front towers looking north.

The masonry is so amazing all throughout the castle!

These are vats full of WINE!

So crazy!

The is one of the side rooms in the tunnel leading to the wine caves.

It is so dark in the tunnels. I almost got lost a few times because I hung back to take pictures!

There were wine barrels everywhere.

In this room are some of the bottles from the very first vintage!

The caves were lined with barrels!

Each barrel was marked with the type of wood and how it was toasted.

This barrel is apparently for our dog Cooper.

There are bottles everywhere you look

These are the bottles that are being stored for two years before they are sold.

Wall o' bottles

The entrance to the torture room.

Just an ordinary basement... EEK!

This is an authentic 300 year old Iron Maiden that he purchased for $13,000 in Italy.

Want to sit down for a bit?

Then it was on to the Great Barrel Room.

Well doesn't this sound like a good deal? Anyone have $10K lying around?

Then we got to taste!

After tasting from a barrel...we made our way to the actual tasting room.

More bottles stacked against the wall.

I wanted the big bottle in the middle...but Michael told me no. :-/

Outside the castle on the grounds we got to see some of the locals!

I named him Senor Fluffy Feet.

Look at this coop built into the tree! Chicken Tree Fort!

Guinea Hens


Who doesn't love a turkey!

So the quail won't let the chicken in. LOL

Turkey butt

Another view of the moat.

On the way to the car we met some more of the locals. lol

I'm not sure what this building is...but it's on the way back down the hill. :)
I have to say that this castle tour was pretty cool. It really seemed as if you were in Italy because it wasn't some cheap replica. The craftsmanship that went into this was amazing. During the tasting we were hoping to find a wonderful red wine...but sadly we didn't find any that really hit us. We did really enjoy their Gewurztraminer, which is surprising because Michael isn't a big fan of white wines. So we purchased two bottles, one for us and one for Michael's uncle who we are visiting tomorrow.

After the tour and tasting we made our way up to Calistoga to eat at Buster's BBQ. Now let me tell you...if you are in Napa Valley and want some damn good BBQ...head on up to Buster's! Sheesh did I sound like a ridiculous commercial or what! LOL. But in all was really good! The tri-tip melted like butter in your mouth...and the hot sauce was extremely flavorful and hot! My mouth is watering again just thinking about it! Michael had ribs...and we shared. I know...I shared my food...I think it's the nice weather that is really throwing me off. ;-)

We decided to make our way back south to Frank Family Vineyards which is just outside of St. Helena because Michael read reviews that they had good Zinfandels. We pulled up to a beautiful property and walked in for the tasting. Sadly we didn't care for their zinfandel...or their Cabernet Sauvignon. But we did walk out of there with a bottle of their 2010 Winston Hill Rutherford Red Wine. Ever since we registered as Domestic Partners in 2011, we were wanting to find a nice wine to mark the year that we met. We have been looking for this wine for a while...and today we found it. We asked the guy leading the tasting how well that bottle aged...and he said that it is one that will be amazing 5 to 6 years from now. BINGO! So we splurged...and bought the bottle! :)

Here are a few photos from Frank Family Vineyards.

After spending our made our way further south to Grgich Hills Estate to try out their wines. While it was a beautiful property...we didn't really care for their red wines. We've come to the conclusion that in order to get good reds you need to go to Sonoma. We realize that this is probably false...but each wine we've had from Ledson Winery in Sonoma has been amazing! And here in Napa...we've leaned towards their whites. But here at Grgich we ended up liking and buying a bottle of their Fume Blanc. Yet another white...that Michael actually liked!

I LOVE wisteria!

More wine barrels! :)

The tasting menu. We did the top wines.
After three wineries...we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel to rehydrate and relax before heading out for dinner. Michael ended up taking a nice nap and I played games on my iPad...I feel like I should have napped as well. HAHA. Oh well.

We made our way back up to St. Helena for dinner at Long Meadow Ranch Farmstead. What a cute place! They grow all their own vegetables and locally source their proteins. We started off with a wood fire grilled artichoke...and roasted beet and arugula salad with a goat cheese crema. Man oh man...we could have made a meal out of those...well if we each had our own! LOL. But we didn't stop there. Michael had the sole for dinner and I had a wonderful cheeseburger. And again...we rolled out of the restaurant and made our way back down to Yountville to call it a night.

It's been a wonderful time here in the Napa Valley! Sadly today we didn't get to go to Six Flags because apparently its only open on weekends this time of year! Fail! LOL. But we ended up having a wonderful day, and we found some great wines!

Tomorrow before heading to Nevada City, we are stopping at Judd's Hill Winery near Napa for a Bottle Blending session! We get to blend our own wine! Finally...the BP Blend! :) I can't wait for it...and I can't wait to share it with you all!

Well I'm going to sit in front of the fireplace for a bit before bed. Hope you all had a great Monday!

Until next time...Keep Cooking!

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