A Weekend In Napa

Last weekend, Chrystie and I went to Napa for one day of wine tasting and one day of volunteering at the Tour de Cure in Yountville. The Tour is a benefit race held by the American Diabetes Association and raises money for diabetes research. We went last year and enjoyed ourselves so much, we decided to make it a yearly thing.

Saturday morning we headed to Castello di Amorosa Winery , a beautiful Tuscan-esque castle in Calistoga overlooking part of Napa Valley. It looks fairly old, but only opened its doors in 2007, and features a moat, drawbridge, towers, a courtyard, torture chamber, chapel, knight’s quarters, and a lake. Also, a sign indicates that parts of the grounds were used in the movie “Bedtime Stories”.


The cheapie tasting was $16 for a 5-wine tasting and included a self-guided tour of a limited section of the castle interior, which we finished in all of about 10 minutes. Other tastings include guided tours of the castle, and a horse-drawn vineyard tour, which I must do the next time I’m there. The tasting room is located in a cellar below the courtyard and has many wines and merchandise available for purchase surrounding the tasting bar.


Chrystie and I found a spot at the bar and stood while tasting five of a limited selection of their wines. We had a couple of reds and whites, but we were both looking forward to their Rosé and dessert wines, which are incredible. We enjoyed their “La Fantasia” sparkling Rosé, which was like drinking a fruity Italian soda with 6.9% alcohol content, a potentially dangerous combination. Their late harvest Gewürztraminer surprised us both by how delicious it was, but was twice the price and half the size of the Fantasia, which we adored. In the end we took home three bottles of Fantasia and a Pinot Grigio that I enjoyed.

On our way to the car, we stopped by to see two sheep and their baby that were grazing on the grass in front of the castle. Sadly, despite the sign saying to leave the sheep alone, people let their kids go chasing after the baby.


Our next stop was V. Sattui, which we learned is owned by the same guy who owns Castello di Amorosa. While Castello seems an ideal place for weddings and receptions, Napa County restrictions prohibit it, so Sattui seems to be the place to go for them. There was a large wedding party preparing when we showed up, in addition to the normal crowd who come for the beautiful picnic area, the Italian deli, and of course the wine.

It took a while, but we eventually found a spot at the bar we could fit comfortably and began sampling. I got a real kick out of the spigots they used to pour the wine, much like a water cooler, very classy.


They offered two different wine tastings, one included many of their sweet wines, and the other was more of their nicer reds. Wanting very much to find a red wine that strikes my fancy, I tried the latter. After a few very unpleasantly dry Cab Savs and Zinfandels, I ended with a nice Port and very tasty Madeira. We ended up getting the Port and a Muscat. I must hand it to the Sattui’s, they have some very beautiful wineries and some very delicious wines.

Needing to wake up at 5 AM the next morning for our Tour de Cure volunteering, we made an early day of it and went to an early dinner, then headed back to the hotel.

The next morning, we crawled out of bed and made our way to the Veteran’s Home in Yountville, where the Tour de Cure was being held. Chrystie volunteered helping serve breakfast and lunch, and I took photos of the event.

One of the coordinators asked me to take photos of the start of the race from atop the scaffolding that held up the start/finish banners and I gladly obliged. However, I had second thoughts while at the top, getting blown around by strong winds that seemed to wait for me to get to the top before blowing. For a while I pondered how badly I might get injured if I fell from 20 feet up, but eventually got over it and got a few nice shots.


Once the race had been going for a while I walked down the course a ways to take shots of cyclers coming and going.


Once 11:00 rolled around I headed to the team photography area for an hour, but only two teams showed up, so I sat in the sun and played with my Droid Incredible and talked with some friends who were also volunteering at the event. After my stint as team photographer, Chrystie and I had lunch and headed home to watch the Sharks chomp the Red Wings. A good weekend was had by all. Photos can be found here.



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