Wine Country: Experiences From a Native Guide

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WineWith over 400 award-winning wineries in Northern California, and a cornucopia of restaurants, cultural events and outdoor activities to consider each week, it’s nearly impossible to find the extra special gems scattered throughout the heart of the Sonoma and Napa Valley without the help of a native guide. As a Sonoma local and freelance writer for a wine country destination magazine, I have the great privilege to live in this region and write about the best way to spend your day in the area. Come along with me: Let’s see wine country!

I like to group things into threes, so here is a small sampling of wine country treasures: a jaw-dropping tasting tour, a mouth-watering eclectic dining experience, and a take-your-breath-away event under the stars, all well worth your time and money.


Wine Tasting Tour: You don’t have to venture to Italy to get a taste of romance and grandeur. Castello di Amorosa (Castle of Love) brings a slice of Italy to Calistoga, featuring hand-crafted Italian style wines inside an authentically designed, 13th century medieval Tuscan castle. Castello di Amorosa simply offers an impressive wine tasting experience like no other.

This 121,000 square foot castle and winery encompasses 107 rooms (95 of which are devoted to winemaking), five defensive towers with battlements, 1,000 pound hand-hewn doors from Italy, and over 170 containers of handmade antique bricks and tiles brought over from Europe. The castle includes a drawbridge, watch tower, courtyard, torture chamber, loggia, deep-well, secret passage ways and an outdoor oven. You can soak in ‘all things Italian’ at Castello di Amorosa through their one, two and three hour tours, which include a tasting of five premium wines in their main bar and access to two main levels including the front ramparts, chapel, Great Hall, courtyard, stables and Knight’s Hall. You can see the wine caves, old vintage rooms, armory, torture chamber, and the Grand Barrel Room. They produce a number of varietal wines worth trying. You will quickly learn why Castillo di Amorosa belongs on everyone’s bucket list.

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