More than just wine: Napa Valley winery offers trip through medieval times

Bay Area

CALISTOGA (KRON) — In the Napa Valley, a hidden treasure has been attracting wine connoisseurs for more than a decade now — Castello Di Amorosa.

It holds true to castles built in medieval times, equipped with the amenities you’d come to expect — including a torture chamber.

An 80-mile drive up north from San Francisco, through the sprawling hills of the napa valley lies an immaculate authentically tuscan-styled medieval castle — a draw in Calistoga since 2007.

Castello di Amorosa is structurally unique to this land, unlike no other in the united states.

Once you’ve absorbed the breathtaking views and taken in the stunning architecture, you realize that the castle has much more to offer.

It’s most impressive feature — still the winemaking.

“These are all of the same techniques used to build a castle in the middle ages,” said winery tour guide Alison Hernandez.

And above ground, as true as the castle’s design, is of one built in the middle ages with a drawbridge and surrounding moat.

“We are walking through the cellars here, going underground — we’re about two levels underground, we’re just gonna keep on going to the armory,” Hernandez said.

So it goes, for the four levels below ground where the grapes grown in the castle’s vineyards are crushed, fermented, aged and barreled, just down the hall from where theoretically offenders in medieval times would be punished, in say, a pit of despair.

“It’s what they would put you in to leave you down here, possibly feed you, probably not so much,” Hernandez said. Hernandez has been hosting daily tours at the castle winery for six years. “And, now, we’re going to head down into the torture chamber,” she said.

The castle winery owner dario sattui has amassed all of the objects. All of the pieces in this torture chamber through decades of travel throughout Europe.

Some are replicas and others are the real thing.

“This is the one real piece in our torture chamber — this is the virgin of Nuremberg. She is a 300 year-old iron maiden, that Dario got from the city of Nuremberg, and this, you can see in here, she has all of these giant iron spikes, they would put you inside of this and they would shut the doors. But again, this isn’t meant to kill you quickly, this is an interrogation device,” she said.

To Hernandez’s knowledge, though it’s real, this iron maiden has never been used. Of the 107 rooms in the castle, 95 are devoted to winemaking.

“All of our wines are sold direct to consumer, so you can’t even find them in any stores or restaurants,” Hernandez said.

But Hernandez says Sattui wants the castle experience to mimic what would have been expected centuries ago and, torture was common.

“A confession wasn’t considered valid, unless it was procured through torture,” she said. the metal spiked hot seat, a self-explanatory chopping block — all the prelude to a pour of your choosing at the end of the tour.

The winery offers a trip through time — from Europe to the Napa Valley.

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