Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa is one of the most popular and frequently visited wineries in Napa.

Napa, California is a verdant paradise with luxurious wineries and Michelin-starred restaurants. Millions of oenophiles come every year to taste the best wine the world has to offer. And out of the 400+ wineries in Napa, many tourists find their way to Castello di Amorosa. In fact, the winery is one of the most popular and most visited in the entire valley.

The problem is that Castello di Amorosa doesn’t always match up to visitors’ expectations. There are numerous websites that sing the winery’s praises. If you took them seriously, you might consider Castello di Amorosa on par with Opus One or Del Dotto. But the honest truth is that Amorosa is a different experience entirely. Not better or worse. Just different.

In any case, someone needs to set the record straight. In this article, I’ll review Castello di Amorosa for its wine, quality of service, and for the winery itself. Then you can decide for yourself whether it’s worth a visit.

The Castle

Castello di Amorosa's castle is a wonder of architecture with classic medieval techniques of crafting and masonry.

The main draw to Castello di Amorosa isn’t the wine. It’s the castle. And I need to tip my hat to the architects. The last thing I expected to find in Napa was an authentic, 12th century Tuscan castle.

Winery owner Dario Sattui spared no expense. All the masonry and woodwork was crafted using old world techniques, and over 850,000 bricks were imported from Europe. The castle features a moat, a great hall with coffered ceilings, an interior courtyard, and even a torture chamber. Why does a winery need a torture chamber? I have no idea. But Castello di Amorosa is the real deal.

The stunning architecture makes for great photos. That is undeniable. But tasting in an echoey great hall with a hundred others isn’t the most luxurious experience. Personally, I prefer a quieter, more personalized experience. And given the grand scale of the winery, that simply isn’t possible.

Castello di Amorosa Wine

Deep, purple grapes make for a delicious red wine in Napa, California.

Most wineries in Napa focus on the classics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. Castello di Amorosa does all that and more. As a Tuscan-inspired winery, you’ll find Tuscan-inspired wine, such as Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. But the list goes on: Spumante, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Bianco, Rosato, and more.

So Amorosa certainly has quantity, but what about quality? Like most wineries there are expensive, fine wines and simpler, more affordable options. The entry level wines are nothing to write home about. I assume they have a bit of residual sugar leftover from the winemaking process because they tend towards the sweet side. Regardless, they would serve well as a table wine.

The higher end Castello di Amorosa wines perform much better. In particular, I would recommend their reserve Cabernet Sauvignons, such as Il Barone or Morisole-Borges. Despite its Tuscan roots, the winery delivers more dependable wine when it focuses on the varietals that made Napa Valley famous in the first place.

Now let’s compare premium Castello di Amorosa wine to the rest of the valley. Does it hold up? In my brutally honest opinion, no. You could easily find wine of the same quality at a cheaper price. In the vast sea of wine that Napa produces, Amorosa falls behind.

Service and Overall Experience

I have no complaints about the actual workers at Castello di Amorosa. You can tell they’re doing their best to please everyone. And in fact, my server’s friendly, carefree attitude made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

Even so, when tourist season is in full swing, it’s hard to establish a personal connection with the staff. At all hours of the day, they are running around in a maddening attempt to accommodate the massive surge of visitors. My server admitted they are overworked and underpaid. As he put it, “we are all just cogs in the capitalist machine.”

And there is something machine-like about it all. You are led around the estate in big groups, sent to the great hall for a selection of wine and cheap breadsticks, and then scurried out to make room for the next wave of guests. In that way, Castello di Amorosa can best be compared to Disneyland. Sure, you can enjoy yourself and the fanciful environment. But at the end of the day, you can’t shake the feeling it’s all a vehicle for making money.

A Better Look at Napa

Napa is known for its expansive vineyards and delicious wine.

Make the most of your trip to Napa with a look at the best wineries to visit in Napa. Out of the 400 amazing wineries in the valley, these are the 10 greatest. Whether you have an eye for art or a taste for culinary delights, you won’t be disappointed with my picks.