On To Napa

NapaSince we were in California for the BIG GAME, we decided to go a little further north and visit the wine country.  The hubby and I haven’t been to Napa Valley in about 10 years, and let me tell you, there are a lot of changes.  There are roughly 435 wineries in the valley these days as well as a number of new eateries and places to stay.  Judging from the acres of vines, it appears that planting occurs anywhere there is an empty space.

Rather than cover the entire valley, we decided to focus mostly on the area around Yountville and St. Helena and visit wineries with which we are unfamiliar, with a couple of exceptions.

Frank Family Winery
Frank Family

Every place has its own character.  Some wineries are understated

Del Dotto
Del Dotto

while others reflect a European influence.

Silver Oak
Silver Oak

Architectural styles range from the more traditional


to super modern.  No matter the look of the place, all make, among other varieties, cabernet sauvignon which each producer claims to be the best!

NapaWhile every winery was special in its own way, there were a couple of standouts.  One was Silverado nestled atop a hill with panoramic views.

NapaNapaNapaNapaA knowledgeable and charming guide, Patricia, took us through the facility and made every step interesting with her stories.

NapaWe were enchanted by the place and thought what fun it would be to have a party there and end with dinner in this wonderful space.  I’m sure all of you would want to come, and we can add more chairs around the table!

NapaWithout question, the most fascinating visit was to Castello di Amorosa in a totally authentic replication of a medieval castle that required years to design and build.  You might say it is the culmination of one man’s dream.

NapaFrom the time we crossed the drawbridge, we were stunned by the attention to detail.

NapaNapaNapaNapaEvery stone was chiseled by hand, every door different, every metal fixture forged by a master blacksmith from Umbria, every accessory of the period.

NapaThe frescoes in the main hall are reproductions from centuries ago painted by an Italian born artist who now lives in San Francisco.

NapaNot to be overlooked are the restrooms, also works of art.

NapaAs if all this were not enough, there’s a gift shop full of tempting items, some of which looked as if they had come from a medieval banquet.

As we toured each location, there was something new to be learned about the wine making process and grape growing.  After a while my palate was a little numbed and, in some cases, my nose stopped up after sampling reds.  It was suggested that the stronger tannins might have something to do with that.  That must be why I prefer softer wines.

There’s more to Napa than just wine, and I’ll touch on that later.  Hope you’ll join me as the adventure continues.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


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24 thoughts on “On To Napa

  1. Wow. What a wonderful place to visit.

  2. I have only been as north as Santa Barbara and visiting the wineries in that gorgeous area to include somewhat of a “Sideways tour”…loved the wineries of Fess Parker and Firestone…and I will be taking notes too as one day I would love to go to Napa!

  3. Note to self: Stay away from Napa because you will be tempted to pull up stakes from Kansas City and live there forever!!! What a pretty place with so many beautiful things to see! I’m so surprised by the stark differences from place to place. LOVED that Silverado!!!!!! I could be queen of that castle any day if they’d just let me!!! What fun!

    1. The Napa Valley is lovely, a place to visit for sure. I think living there would be a very different lifestyle.

  4. What a glorious trip – how fun! Here’s a tip for those bothered by the tannins in red wine: take a non-drowsy allergy pill before tasting. I learned this from my boss who is a California-trained winemaker!

    1. Those may affect reaction to histamines as well.

  5. I’m dying to go up to Seattle and drive down to Napa… By the looks of your pictures and descriptions, Napa is gorgeous…

    1. That would be a great journey. You could even stop in Oregon and explore Willamette Valley.

  6. Wow has this place changed last time I was out that way Napa was under water 😦 so nice to see they have had such a beautiful comeback.

  7. Very interesting. I have always wanted to go there. Maybe someday!

    Great pics.

    1. Put it on your list. It’s a wonderful place to visit.

  8. What a trip! Napa too! I love to tour the smaller wineries, what a treat! I grew up in Southern Cal and went to college at Chico, and did a lot of roaming around up there. Northern California is such a gorgeous spot, I must go back soon! Thank you for the beautiful photos~

  9. Thanks for the musings. Next time I am up that way, I am going to have to visit that castle!

    1. You’ll not regret the visit!

  10. The castle is amazing. Love all the detail right down to the swans in the moat!!

  11. Thanks for sharing this beautiful country-side! Vineyards are beautiful, with the rows of grapevines. Calming, even. I enjoyed your tour of winery exteriors, but most of all, I love the castle. (And a mote!) It’s settled then? A party in the big room – at the big table? I hope I get an invitation. 🙂 I look forward to more about your trip!

  12. Billie Keirstead January 14, 2014 — 8:43 am

    When I saw that first photo of the castle I thought it was the one in either Rouen or Angers, France, with the moat going around it. I think Napa is on our agenda again. I too must stick to white wines because of the tannins and immediate inability to breathe if I drink red. Good thing I also have a strong dislike for red wine. Lovely photo essay, as usual.

    1. If you haven’t been in a while, you would definitely enjoy the return.

  13. Thank you for taking us there! Enjoyed the tour!
    The castle was incredible. …

  14. I’ve always wanted to visit…maybe someday. Very interesting post!


    1. Put it on your list of places to go as it is a great adventure.

  15. Linda, I’m taking notes! It’s been about 10 years since our last trip to Napa too. I’m keeping my fingers crossed we get to visit this spring!

    1. By spring everything should be lush with green. Hope you make it as visiting there is a real treat.

  16. What a fun trip! The castle definitely looks like it could be in Italy, rather than California. 🙂

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