Italians Come To Castle To Install Doors And Windows

Jim Sullivan

September 5th, 2023

Italians Come To Castle To Install Doors And Windows

It has been a whirlwind couple of years since Dario Sattui started the process of sourcing the materials to rebuild the Castello di Amorosa Farmhouse. Situated on the crush pad and overlooking Castello’s Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard, the Farmhouse needed lots of love. And who better to bring the love than designer and builder himself, Dario Sattui.

“The September 2020 Glass fire destroyed our 9,000 square foot farmhouse which we are rebuilding,” said Dario Sattui, Creator of Castello di Amorosa, a 14th century authentically built Tuscan-style castle and winery located in Calistoga, Napa Valley. “The fire destroyed over 100,000 bottles of the castle’s wine, almost all our offices, a wine laboratory, a bottling line, a truck, fermenting wine, and a forklift,” he added.

Following several trips to Italy to source the same old-world material used to build the Castello, Sattui saw the fruits of his search arrive on the Napa Castle loading dock – Doors, beautiful hand-crafted doors. 

Dario and Italian craftsmen working on farmhouse doors

Giorgio Mariani, a master blacksmith, his son Mircu and Luca, all blacksmiths came to the castle from Assisi, Italy in August to install the new Italian doors and windows they made along with a carpenter in Italy.  The three Italian craftsmen hand-made every nail and all the iron decorative pieces over the open fire, the traditional way it used to be done.

Italian craftsmen installing the tasting room doors

The work is beautifully done, of which Giorgio is very proud.  Giorgio and a carpenter made all the original doors, windows, iron lamps and gates almost twenty years ago, before the castle opened.  We have since become good friends.

Georgio showing new farmhouse door

Craftsmen installing castle door

Sinalunga Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Reserve Wines

Jim Sullivan

May 24th, 2022

Reserve Wines

Have you ever seen the word Reserve or even the term, Napa Valley Reserve on a bottle of wine? The bottle might even display such phrases as, Private Reserve, Special Reserve or Proprietor’s Reserve. In some wine growing regions of the world, like Italy and Spain, for example, where the Italian Reserva and the Spanish Reserva are legally defined and indicate wines are aged longer (could be a combination of oak barrels and bottle) than regular bottlings. In all cases, reserve wines of this distinction are highly sought after and are largely considered collector wines.

While there is no legal definition of a reserve wine in the U.S., generally reserve wine bottlings usually consist of wines considered by the winemaker to be of greater quality that can age gracefully, many years longer than a regular bottling of the same variety.  Usually selected from special wine barrel lots that merit additional aging and, in some cases, complete vineyards or select rows of the vineyard will be designated for the winery’s reserve program. It is common for select vineyards to have certain areas where the growing conditions are slightly better than other sections.  This could be due to the slope of vineyard in that section which allows for better sunlight on the vines or creates better soil drainage. 

Additionally, in vineyards near hillsides, it is common for alluvial soil to accumulate in sections of the vineyard. Alluvial soil is a rich, nutrient-dense composition of gravel, clay and silt that improves the richness in the soil and supports healthy vines and their complex and deep root structure. These types of soils contribute greatly to the diversity of wines produced from vineyards with alluvial soils and results in Napa Valley wines with a softness and elegance. 

In the Napa Valley, a region home to many collectable wines, reserve bottlings consist of wines that are considered by many winemakers to be finer and have greater aging potential than their regular bottling of the same collectable napa wines. The most common wine that garners the distinction of being called a top collectable wine is Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Reserve as it’s coined by many wine connoisseurs.  

At Castello di Amorosa, winemakers Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno have crafted a complete line up of Napa Valley Reserve wines in their Napa in Reserve portfolio. Our portfolio also includes fine wine selections from the Anderson Valley, the Green Valley of the Russian River Valley and Mendocino AVA- some of the top AVA’s in California wine country. 

Click here to see our full collection of reserve wines.

King of Cabernet SauvignonSingle-Vineyard Wines

Santa Barbara Vineyard


Jim Sullivan

April 20th, 2022

Taste The Best of The Best: Napa’s Most Popular Chardonnays!

Chardonnay is very popular and remains one of the top white wines of all time. This fashionable varietal grows particularly well in California and is one of the most widely planted varietals in the world. The wine has great character with an inviting balance of fruit, acidity, and texture often described as creamy or buttery — some associate the taste with tropical fruit, apples, ripe figs, or sweet melon. Some of the best buttery Chardonnay is produced in California.

Long considered “the winemaker’s wine”, the style can range from crisp, lively tank-fermented wines, which see little or very little time in oak barrels, to rich, complex oak-aged wines that need several years of bottle age to fully display their uniqueness. The general trend is to produce a more restrained dry chardonnay, with less oak and less butter yet still elegant and complimentary to food, but some consumers are still in search of that sweet Chardonnay.

Winemakers Brooks Painter and Peter Velleno skillfully craft Castello di Amorosa’s chardonnays from renowned vineyard sites such as Henry Ranch, and Bien Nacido Vineyard. The 111-acre Henry Ranch Vineyard is in the Los Carneros appellation, with a small portion in the Mt. Veeder appellation of the Napa Valley. The vineyard is influenced by cool breezes from San Pablo Bay and daytime heat on the hills and valleys, making ideal growing conditions for chardonnay grapes. From this vineyard, Castello di Amorosa produces the Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay and the Napa Valley Chardonnay. Both wines reflect their Napa Valley terroir. Each are round, full-bodied with a gentle touch from the French oak wine barrels where they undergo a secondary malolactic fermentation. You will experience lush notes of baked apple, ripe pear, fall spices and toasted almond.

The Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay and La Rocca Bien Nacido Vineyard grapes are sourced in Santa Barbara County from the Santa Maria Valley appellation. The Bien Nacido terroir is a combination of Elder and Chamise shaly loams with Pleasanton sandy loam, and diverse soils of limestone, shale and uplifted marine volcanics. The Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay is a classic California-style Chardonnay with creamy aromas of baked meyer lemon, butterscotch and grilled pineapple leading to enticing flavors of baked apple and hints of toast, with bright acidity, a balanced mouthfeel and a round, opulent finish. The La Rocca Chardonnay offers refreshing aromas of tropical fruits and honeysuckle compliment this unique single vineyard Chardonnay’s bright acidity and citrus notes on the palate. Aged 10 months sur lie in a concrete fermentation egg brings about a subtle minerality and soft, lingering finish.

Our partners at Bien Nacido Vineyards, which is widely considered one of the top Chardonnay vineyards in California, work the vineyard daily, allowing the cool-climate chardonnay vineyard with something to say, to find its voice through mindful, dedicated and nearly obsessive commitment to excellence in farming.

Castello Fire Time

Introducing The Castello Fire Team

Jim Sullivan

June 25th, 2021

Introducing “Cavalieri del Fuoco,”

After experiencing the devasting effects of the Glass Fire in October 2020, the team at Dario Sattui’s Castello di Amorosa vows to be ready when the next Red Flag Warning is raised in the Napa Valley. Announced today was the formation of a newly assembled fire watch team, which will provide additional defense against fires during fire season and is equipped with fire protective gear and thousands of feet of fire hose, which attach to the Castello’s 3 fire hydrants on the property.

Napa Valley Fire Team

“The Glass Fire hit our Farmhouse so fast,” said Georg Salzner, President of Castello di Amorosa. “We were on site when it struck in the early morning hours, and we did what we could but felt like we could have done more to limit the damage. We could have been more of a resource to the firefighters who were stretched thin that night,” he added.

Salzner organized a fire defense team of 8 long-term employees who know the intricacies of the Castle, its grounds and Dario Sattui’s Victorian home just outside the main Castle gates. This team is known as the “Cavalieri del Fuoco,” which means the Knights of Fire in Italian. This team will establish a fire watch and be ready to respond during Red Flag Warning conditions and will provide support for firefighters. On an ongoing basis they will establish and maintain a defensible space around all structures by removing as much threat from those structures as possible.

“It is critically important that we implement fire defensive measures now,” Salzner explained. “We’ve outfitted this team with the proper equipment. The entire perimeter of the Castello can be reached by the thousands of feet of fire hose that we purchased which will allow us to support the fire department’s efforts,” he continued.

The Cavalieri del Fuoco is led by Salzner, Tim Dexter, Maintenance Manager and Josh Fairbanks, owner of Fairbanks Mechanical (manages all mechanical systems at the Castello including the fire safety equipment). Long-time employee Carlos Perez is the official Fire Chief of the Cavalieri.

“Our main goal,” explains Tim Dexter, “is to have and maintain a defensible space of 150 feet from all structures to flammable vegetation. Smaller brush, tree trimming (branches lower to the ground) and tree clearing will be done using our newly acquired wood-chipper. This process will eliminate fire fuel sources which will prevent fires from becoming a threat. Regular gutter cleaning will take place in the summer and fall to eliminate fuel sources near roof lines. The new hoses will allow us to water down roof tops as well,” he adds.

To make the property less susceptible to fire, the Castello invested nearly $100,000 in gear for the fire defense team and equipment which includes a portable water pump that obtains water from the lake, adaptors for the existing fire hydrants, thousands of feet of high-pressure fire hose and nozzles plus custom firefighting gear for the employees.

Each hydrant can be outfitted with dual 4” hose attachments, which allow the use of 1.5” fire hoses. The fire defense team then attaches the hoses to the fire hydrant and can begin to extinguish the fire with a strong water stream which can reach distances of 150 feet.

Castello di Amorosa is one of Napa Valley’s most recognized wineries and welcomes visitors by appointment seven days a week.

Glass Fire Part I

Read Part 1 of our Glass Fire Blog, featuring a message from Dario Sattui.

Read Part 1
Castello Fire Time

Glass Fire Part II

Jim Sullivan

November 6th, 2020

The Clean Up Is Complete

After 1,800 hours of work, the Farmhouse that was burned in the Napa Valley Glass Fire is clean and ready for rebuilding- a 2-to-3-year process- that will utilize same painstaking process that led to the building of Castello di Amorosa, also know as the Napa Castle

Dario hired Zucco Structural Engineers of Santa Rosa to evaluate the existing 10-inch cement walls that are faced with stone and bricks. Zucco were the engineers that produced the original structural plans for the Farmhouse. We are hopeful that the structural report confirms that the walls were not damaged to the extent that they will need to be razed.

Once we have confirmation, we will need to obtain a permit from Napa County to rebuild. We will need thousands of handmade, antique roof tiles, bricks, doors, and metal work from Italy as well as timbers. Artisans from Europe will need to come to Castello to perform the work, to recreate the Farmhouse exactly as it was before the Glass Fire.

In rebuilding the Farmhouse, Dario will reaffirm the two of the original guiding principles used in the building of the Castello. First, the building will be rebuilt authentically. Second, it will be authentic which means it will take time. The rebuilt Farmhouse will not be a contemporary building that mimicked the medieval style. As he would say, you cannot build an “old structure” using modern techniques and tools and it cannot be fake! So, like the Castle itself, you will see hand-shaped bricks, stone, roof tiles and wood used as the building materials.

Fritz Gruber, a master builder, who furnished most of the bricks from Austria will be called on once again in the Farmhouse rebuilding project.

Fritz Gruber

Much of the stone will be sourced locally and worked by masons familiar with old stonecutting techniques. The roof tiles are hand made by artisans in Europe.

Castle Roof Tiles

The ironwork including the light fixtures, hinges, locks will all need to be fabricated by Giorgio Mariani, a blacksmith who Dario met in Assisi in 1998, and his son who reside in Umbria, Italy. These talented artisans created the wood doors and window surrounds for the Castle and we will ask for their help, once again, in the Farmhouse project.

Castle Door

It is likely that the former construction manager of the Castle project, Paulo Ardito will return for the Farmhouse Project. It was Paolo who built the Gatehouse, a tractor barn and office/storage building that is left of the main gate in 2014.

dario on drawbridge

Stay tuned to this blog for the next update. If you have not already done so, please sign up for our newsletter (Hyperlink) to stay up to date with all the latest from the Castello.

Glass Fire Part I

Read Part 1 of our Glass Fire Blog, featuring a message from Dario Sattui.

Read Part 1

Gordon Ramsey

Gordon Ramsey Visits The Castle

Jim Sullivan

July 6th, 2020

Gordon Ramsay Visits The Castle

If you have ever watched Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen TV Show, you know that things can get out of hand quickly. That is exactly what happened when Gordon Ramsay and and his pals, Gino and Fred visited the Castle. They filmed Gordon, Gino & Fred: American Road Trip, Summer of Love.

Gordon Ramsey

Watch as Gordon, his Italian celebrity chef friend Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix, a french maitre d’hotel, best known for appearing on Channel 4’s first dates and BBC Two Million Pound Menu, set out to find the Castle and taste the wines with their host and owner of Castello di Amorosa, Dario Sattui. While the entire episode is entertaining, you can skip ahead to 28:00 to see Castello di Amorosa.

Best California Chardonnay

The Fifty Best - California Chardonnay

Jim Sullivan

June 24th, 2020

Best California Chardonnay

From the Napa Valley to New York. Castello di Amorosa’s Reserve Chardonnay won a gold medal in the Fifty Best professional wine tasting in New York. Twenty-three premium wine contenders were evaluated for the distinguished “Best California Chardonnay” awards for 2020.

Using professional criteria, the pre-qualified panel of judges blind-tasted the chardonnays and rated them individually on a 1 to 5-point scoring system with 5 being the highest. After tallying the scores, “Best California Chardonnay” medals were awarded based on the judges’ impressions.

Chardonnay is the most widely planted white grape variety, globally. The grape originated in a small village of Chardonnay in France and is now grown throughout the world. Castello’s Reserve Chardonnay is grown in the cool-climate Los Carneros AVA of the Napa Valley.

The wine judges had the following observation of our award-winning Reserve Chardonnay:

Following fermentation, this 100% Chardonnay was aged in 100% new Burgundian French oak barrels for 12 months prior to bottling. Aroma: Green apple, rambutan, lemon peel, minerality, subtle malo, slight oak, buttery. Palate: Bountiful lemon, lemon peel, apple, pear, melon, mango, peach, great tropical fruit, floral, cedar box, balanced oak, buttery, buttered popcorn, creamy, vanilla, smooth, crisp, classic California chardonnay. Finish: Ripe lemon, lime, mango, papaya, oak, vanilla, creamy, soft, balanced.

The complete results, along with tasting notes of the best chardonnays in California, can be viewed here: is a digital guide to wines & spirits, featuring rated listings resulting from proprietary blind tastings as judged by wine/spirits journalists, sommeliers, wine/spirit retailers, mixologists, wine consultants and connoisseurs. The Fifty Best achieves the highest standards of spirits evaluations by adhering to strict tasting rules and rigorous methodology.