A Midsummer Knight’s Dream ~ Field Trip to Napa | Sonoma 馃殫馃挩馃嵎

The winery with the dungeon was one I had to see.
On this weekend winery getaway to Napa and Sonoma, HubbyDoug and I had only聽two days to visit and sample. So rather than a meandering trip, we became precise and and streamlined about what we wanted to see.

We’ve enjoyed Gundlach Bundschu wines since Doug’s last trip to see them a few years ago so they were a top choice. 聽But friends told us about Castello Di Amorosa, a winery fashioned after a thirteenth century Italian castle, complete with dungeon … and torture chamber. Um… more about that in a bit.

Peace and quiet

There are times when visiting a winery is like visiting an old friend. The feeling of ease and relaxation wraps around you like a warm hug. At Gundlah Bundschu, we made our way to the bottle bar to grab a glass and then walk the vineyard. I typically enjoy so many of their reds but because of the heat, I chose a flavorful, chilled and beautifully floral Gerw眉rtztraminer,聽while Doug had his favorite, Pinot Noir.

The relaxed vibe of the staff invites you to take your glass and explore pretty much anywhere on the property. There were no limits, and no restrictions except perhaps your footwear, and how long you needed until you wanted to refill your glass.

We got our shoes dusty as we made our way through the vineyards, stopping to taste a couple of Pinot Noir grapes off the vine. There was nothing like it. The flavor was so bright and sweet; almost like a sunburst on the tongue.

Small enclosures at various points along the walk were available with coolers of water and comfortable seating. It was unbelievable how quiet it could be out in the vineyards with nothing but the sun, a light breeze blowing, breathtaking scenery and your wine to savor. We felt any tension melting away as we sipped and walked.
It was how I imagine heaven might be.

While we could’ve stayed all day, we wanted to get to the next destination before nightfall, those winding roads can get pretty tricky.

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Dungeons and dragons
Driving on approximately forty minutes, we arrived at the castle. A labor of love for Dario Sattui and 20+ years from concept to completion (15 years of construction), Castello Di聽Amorosa聽is an authentic replica of a 13th century Medieval Tuscan-style castle. Fashioned with hand squared stone, tile and ancient brickwork brought over from Europe, it features spectacular upper and lower courtyards, 5 defensive towers with battlements, a chapel, great hall, royal apartment, dungeon and torture chamber (no castle was complete without them), as well as a fully functioning winery. This architectural marvel is 136,000 sq. ft. including castle and winery. There are 8 levels — 4 levels above and 4 underground. It is truly a feast for the eyes.

We made our way through the drawbridge to travel back in time to a world where romance swirled, women swooned and if you stepped out of line, it was the rack (or the iron maiden). I made sure HubbyDoug was on his best behavior. The chill from the deepest cellar crept up my spine with a slither and it made it difficult to remember the heat from the sun just beyond our reach. It kind of freaked me out when we walked through the labyrinth before getting to our final destination: the tasting room. I bet Halloween here is a scream!

Taking in the opulence and authenticity of detail was awesome and then to see the modern winemaking equipment was a real juxtaposition. And it wasn’t lost on us that we were taken to our wine tasting right after visiting the dungeon and torture chamber. Hmmmmm…. Needless to say, many of us bought several bottles. My pick: the 2015 Dolcino Gerw眉rztraminer聽a nice, slightly sweet chiller.

In the next post: Day 2 of our excellent wine adventure at Alexander Valley Vineyards, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, and Jordan.

漏TheWineStudent, 2016

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Cold Day, Warm C么te

Katie's C么te on a cold winter's night

Katie's C么te on a cold winter's night

It’s been a while since my last post and I have a really good reason: I wanted to finish my spotlight on Icewine with some fabulous pictures of the Icewine Festival here in the Cleve. Old ManWinter has a wicked sense of humor, and blasted us with some nasty weather that made it too treacherous to venture out.

My sister was visiting from Canada and I wanted to share a special wine for her last night here. Not to let a little thing like a winter storm dampen our fun,we decided to end the blustery day enjoying a lovely glow in the fireplace and a bottle of 07 Amador Foothill Katie’s C么te,聽the lovely C么te du Rhone I enjoyed while I was in Napa. This is a blend of 52% Syrah, 48% Grenache and we found it to be a beautifully complex mixture of berry, spice and plum with a delectable buttery finish. And while it’s a terrific stand alone wine, we paired it with a selection of Belgian chocolates and George Clooney: we watched “The Ides of March” on the dish.

I loved spending time with my sister. I wished we could have gone to the ice wine tasting but 聽it was great to have a girls night in. The next ice wine event in the Cleve will be in early March and if the weather cooperates, I’ll be there. Why let a little thing like a snow storm ruin a good glass of wine?