Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking

Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking

Brooks Painter has been a winemaker for over 30 years. His impressive resume includes positions as operations manager at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville and winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Leeward Winery, and Felton-Empire Vineyards.

Brooks has been director of winemaking at the Castello since 2005, producing a variety of highly acclaimed 90+ point wines that have gained recognition from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, and Wine Enthusiast. In 2014, he received the distinguished Winemaker of the Year award in the American Fine Wine Competition.

He discovered his passion for wine while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The American Journal of Viticulture and Enology, Biochemistry, Practical Winery, and Wines & Vines. Brooks is a professional member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture and a former chair of the Microbiology Committee for the California Enological Research Association.

For the past 15 years, Brooks and his wife Beth have lived in Napa. They’re actively involved in the Napa Valley community, charitable organizations, and long-range public planning for local city and county government.

Interviews

♦ Wine Life Radio Welcomes Brooks Painter, September 7, 2013 (Podcast)

♦ Life Between the Vines interviews Brooks Painter, May 27, 2013 (Podcast)

♦ What’s Cookin’ Today on CRN Radio, Mike & Paul talks with Brooks Painter, August 18, 2014 (Podcast)

♦ VinVillage Radio interviews Brooks Painter, November 17, 2014 (Podcast)

♦ Winner, Winner April Dinner: Fine Wine Gala Announces Number Ones, February 17, 2015

Wednesdays with Winemakers, Brooks Painter, February 10, 2016

Sommtalks, Castello di Amorosa Director of Winemaking Brooks Painter Joins Us, April 17, 2017



Peter Velleno, Winemaker

Peter Velleno, Winemaker

Peter Velleno studied winemaking, brewing science, microbiology, and food engineering at the University of California at Davis. In 2003, he was the only student to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in fermentation science.

After graduation, he went to work in the laboratory at William Hill Winery, where he quickly worked his way up to assistant winemaker specializing in Chardonnay production. Peter went on to work for the ultra-premium small winery Hartwell Vineyards, where he helped craft some of the most highly regarded Cabernets in the Napa Valley.

Peter’s career path took a sharp turn in 2008 when he joined Castello di Amorosa as the associate winemaker. He was promoted to winemaker in 2014 and manages production of the Castello’s wines. If asked, he will tell you that making wine in a Castle is even more fun than it sounds.

Peter and his wife Lauren have lived in Napa since 2003. They have two children and enjoy playing tennis, biking, cooking, and spending time outdoors with their dog Nora.



Margarito Rivera, Cellar Master

Margarito Rivera, Cellar Master

Margarito Rivera joined the Castello team in 2017, having worked with Director of Winemaking Brooks Painter nearly two decades ago at another Napa Valley winery. His dedication and excellent work ethic have made him a valuable addition to our winemaking team.



Jim Sullivan, Vice President PR & Marketing

Jim Sullivan, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing

Jim Sullivan, Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing spearheads Castello di Amorosa’s publicity and marketing initiatives.

With over 20 years of marketing, public relations and business development experience with professional motorsports teams and in a variety of healthcare organizations in Southern California, Jim first joined Castello di Amorosa in 2008 as Public Relations and Marketing Manager.

An avid cyclist, Jim fell in love with wine and wineries while exploring the Washington State countryside.  His love of wine was reinforced during subsequent trips to the Napa Valley to visit family.

Jim holds an MBA from the University of Redlands and a Bachelor of Science from Central Washington University. He resides in Calistoga, Calif.



Antoinette Freeman, Hospitality Director

Antoinette Freeman

Antoinette Freeman, Hospitality Director

Antoinette is the Director of Hospitality & Events for Castello di Amorosa and has been with the Castello since 2016.

Antoinette has deep roots in Wine Country as a Napa Valley native. Her family has been involved in the hospitality industry, from hotels to restaurants to wineries, since their arrival to Napa Valley over 40 years ago. “You could say, hospitality is in my blood.”

Prior to her arrival at the Castello, Antoinette spent over a decade serving at award-winning fine dining restaurants around Wine Country and the Bay Area. Antoinette then expanded her career to event planning at luxury hotels in Wine Country, eventually making her way to the Castello to lead the Hospitality team in executing some of Napa Valley’s most impressive and renowned events in a distinct style that can only be offered in an authentic 13th century castle. “I consider it a ‘dream come true’ to plan events at an authentic castle!”

Recent accolades for the Hospitality & Events program at the Castello include an award for the annual Pagan Ball, which received the North Bay Bohemian’s “Best of the North Bay” award for “Best Winery Event” in 2018.   Additionally, California Meetings + Events magazine awarded the Castello “Best Winery with Event Space” in their annual “Best of 2019 Awards.”

Antoinette is a board member for the Wine Country Special Event Planner association, a member of the International Live Events Association, and a member of Meeting Planners International.



Sheena O'Brien, Wine Club Director

Sheena O’Brien, Wine Club Director



David Bejar, Vineyard Manager

David Bejar, Vineyard Manager

David Béjar brings over 40 years of experience to Castello di Amorosa.  Born in Michoacán, Uruapan, David was just 8 years old when he began picking at one of Ensenada’s oldest wineries.  David’s father died at the age of 11 so he took up boxing at $8.00 a fight to supplement the family income. At the age of 16, after immigrating to the United States, he began work as a tractor driver in Santa Rosa and continued to work his way up in the wine industry.

Recruited by Dario Sattui in 1996, Béjar now manages over 300 acres of vineyards.  He is responsible for the sustainable vineyard practice and provides the projections for the size of the harvest each season.

Every year, the North Bay Business Journal acknowledges leading individuals and businesses from across the wine, beer, and spirits industries in the region. We are thrilled that David Béjar was awarded Vineyard Manager of the year in 2018.



2017 Reserve Chardonnay wins Best White Wine at the SF Chronicle Competition!

castelloamor

January 14th, 2019

Fantastic awards from the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Reserve Chardonnay was named the White Sweepstakes Winner in this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, which is the largest competition of wines from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Over 64 professional wine judges evaluated over 6,800 wines from 1,132 wineries, and our Reserve Chardonnay was one of 9 wines which were awarded sweepstakes medals. To achieve this distinction, our Chardonnay had to win in its price category, then win against all other Chardonnays across all price points (which comprised over 60% of the 2,500 white wines in the competition), and finally triumph in the field of all other winning white wine contenders.

Bob Fraser, Executive Director of the competition, elaborated on this achievement, stating “along with the Red Sweepstakes, the White Sweepstakes is very difficult to attain for a winery because it is competing against over 2,500 other outstanding white wines from a multitude of viticultural areas in North America. What is even more remarkable is that this marks the fourth time Castello di Amorosa has won the coveted San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Sweepstakes award. In the past the winery won the White Sweepstakes in 2017 for its 2015 Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer and won in consecutive years (2012-2013) for its Dessert Sweepstakes Anderson Valley Late Harvest Gewürztraminer. This illustrates a pursuit of excellence for the winemaking team at Castello di Amorosa.”

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest wine competition in North America. Founded in 1983 as the modestly sized Cloverdale Citrus Fair Wine Competition, the SFCWC has expanded tremendously over the years, gaining title sponsorship from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000. Now celebrating the 19th anniversary of the competition, the SFCWC is considered the barometer of how consumers select and measure their wine.

The public will have a chance to taste the award winning wines at The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition’s Public Tasting on Saturday, February 16 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion in San Francisco. Click here for tickets and additional information.

About the 2017 Reserve Chardonnay

Our 2017 Reserve Chardonnay was sourced from two vineyards in the cooler southern end of Napa Valley, and harvested between August 17 and September 13. It was fermented and aged sur lie in 100% new Burgundian oak barrels, with 75% of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation, which lends to a round and balanced full-bodied Napa Valley Chardonnay with lush notes of baked apple, ripe pear, fall spices and toasted almond.

Winemaker Peter Velleno noted “the 2017 vintage quality is showing very high quality, with a lot of bright acidity and fresh varietal aromas in the white wines, along with deep color and sweet fruit flavors. We think our Reserve Chardonnay is an excellent example of this exceptional growing season in Napa Valley.”

Mary Davidek, who runs our highly acclaimed Royal Food & Wine Pairing Tour at the Castello, recommends pairing creamy dishes such as Fettuccine Alfredo with the Reserve Chardonnay, to complement the creamy elements in the wine. For a lighter pairing, her Ahi Avocado Salad with Ponzu (pictured below) makes a bright and refreshing accompaniment to the full-bodied Chardonnay.

All awards from the 2019 SF Chronicle Wine Competition

Castello di Amorosa also received a number of Gold and Double Gold Medals, along with a fifth consecutive Best of Class medal for our 2017 Dry Gewürztraminer. Check out the complete list of award winners:

We are so proud of our fantastic winemaking team, and look forward to sharing all of our award-winning wines with you!



Apple Roses

Recipe Date: November 19th, 2018
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 6-12
Cook Time: 01:10
Measurements: Imperial (US)

Puff Pastry Apple Roses

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, thawed
  • 3-4 apples (I used Gravenstein apples from our Three Arrows Ranch property, but you can substitute your favorite variety; Honeycrisp also works well)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Flour (for dusting the countertop)
  • Powdered sugar or caramel sauce (for drizzling)

Directions

Core apples and slice in half from top to bottom (do not peel). Cut halves into paper thin, crescent-shaped slices (use a mandolin slicer if you have one for faster and easier slicing).

Fill a microwave safe bowl halfway with water and add lemon juice. Place the sliced apples into the bowl immediately to prevent browning. Once all apples have been sliced and added to the bowl, microwave for 3 minutes to soften the slices, making them easier to roll into your roses. If you prefer, you can also simmer the slices in a pan on the stove until soft. The slices should be able to easily bend without breaking.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet into a rectangular shape roughly 12×9″. Cut the dough into 6 strips, 2×9″. Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry.

In a small bowl, combine apricot preserves and two tablespoons of water. Microwave until warm (making it easier to spread on your puff pastry slices).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Drain the apples.

Spread a small amount of apricot jam onto your pastry strip. Starting at one end of each pastry strip and working your way across, place apple slices with the skin side sticking partly off the strip, overlapping each slice partly to create the “petals” of your roses. Leave the bottom half of the pastry strip empty.

Sprinkle apple slices with cinnamon sugar and fold the bottom half of the strip up to tuck in the bottom half of your apple petals.

Starting from one end, carefully roll up the strip, making sure to keep the apple slices in place. Seal the edge at the end and place the rose in a greased muffin pan. Repeat with remaining strips.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check the roses 30 minutes into baking, and if the tops of the apples are starting to crisp, move the pan to the lower rack of the oven or cover with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Sprinkle finished roses with powdered sugar or drizzle with caramel sauce, and serve while warm. Roses can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days on the countertop or 3 days in the refrigerator.

Pair with our Il Raggio del Sole Moscato, Simpatica Riesling/Moscato blend, or our Gioia Rosato di Sangiovese



A Spooktacular Night at the Pagan Ball

castelloamor

October 30th, 2018

A Spooktacular Night at the Pagan Ball

On Friday, October 25, we lowered the drawbridge and welcomed in wine-loving ghouls, vampires, pirates, monsters, and superheroes for a spooktacular night of tricks and treats at the Castello’s 10th annual Pagan Ball! The evening featured delicious bites from our friends at Oak Avenue Catering paired with Castello wines in the courtyard, fortune telling on the terrace, dancing in the Great Hall, a haunted exhibit from Napa City Ghosts and Legends, and our creepiest haunted cave maze ever!

View Album

Scroll down to see some of our favorite photos from the evening, plus a great video of the night from our friends at VIBE Audio Visual Designs, or click the link above to see the entire album!

Our friends at VIBE did a fantastic job lighting the Castello for the Pagan Ball, and keeping the dance floor rocking all night long with DJ Danny Dell in the Great Hall! Check out their great video of the evening:

Our team worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the Pagan Ball putting together the scariest haunted cave maze we’ve had yet! Winding through the twists and turns of the underground levels of the Castello in the dark with frights around every corner, it was an experience to die for!

Our guests outdo themselves every year with their amazing costumes, and 2018 was no different! Check out a few of our favorites:

Want to join us at one of our upcoming Wine Club events? Click the link below to see what’s coming up next at the Castello! We hope to see you soon!

Wine Club Events