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Great Northern California Wineries To Visit

Updated on September 14, 2012
Tha California Countryside
Tha California Countryside | Source

Northern California (Napa and Sonoma) boasts some of the best wines in the world. Many people have their favorite vintners, regions and even countries. For some people it’s France or Italy that makes the best wines, for others it’s California.

Depending on your preferences, Northern California has, not only some of the best wines, but some of the greatest wineries to visit.

You don’t even have to like wine or even drink to be able to appreciate these wineries of wonderment.

The following places are three of Northern California’s wineries that are quite unique and/or famous in their own special way. They have been featured in movies and offer wonderful views of the hills and scenery of Northern California wine country.

Artesa Winery

The hilltop entrance to Artesa Winery's Visitor's Center in Napa, California.
The hilltop entrance to Artesa Winery's Visitor's Center in Napa, California. | Source
The beautiful hillside views from the winery.
The beautiful hillside views from the winery. | Source
The fantasic vista along with the wonderful avant-grande outside artwork
The fantasic vista along with the wonderful avant-grande outside artwork | Source
A markerArtesa Winery -
1345 Henry Rd, Napa, CA 94558, USA
get directions

Artesa Winery:

Located at 1345 Henry Road, Napa, CA 94559

(707) 224-1668

Tasting Room / Visitor Center:

Open: Daily from 10 to 5 p.m. (last pour at 4:30)

Prices: $10-15 per person

Description:

With one of the best panoramic views in the area, Artesa is located on a hilltop that gives you a fantastic 360 degree view of the rolling hills and beautiful sprawling rows of vineyards. Artesa is tucked away in the hills of Napa, California off of the beaten path of the highways and is found on the dirt road zigzagging through the wine country.

This might seem like a marketing disaster for a winery that offers wine tastings, tours, modern art, merchandise and special wines, but the hidden location benefits both the winery and the visitor by offering one of the most classically beautiful hilltop views of the surrounding area. When seated out on the terrace, one can't even see the highway or the city of Napa; the noises are gone and you're left with a serene, glorious and peaceful landscape.

Inside the winery, you’re given a clever, artistic and modern layout. The visitor center is lavished with glass walls; this allows the majestic view outside to constantly be viewed both inside and out. There is also New Age art hanging from the walls. Barcelonan Artist Domingo Triay designed the building (built in the early 1990’s) which is explained on the winery website as follows: “The avant-garde structure was conceived to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. “

Castillo di Amorosa

The Grand Entrance to the castle
The Grand Entrance to the castle | Source
Barrels of wine line the catacombs underneath the castle
Barrels of wine line the catacombs underneath the castle | Source
The orginal spanish turret
The orginal spanish turret | Source
Middle Age weaponry and vestments adorn the walls of the Knight's Hall
Middle Age weaponry and vestments adorn the walls of the Knight's Hall | Source
A markerCastillo di Amorosa -
4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
get directions

Castillo di Amorosa:

Located at 4045 North St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515

(707) 967-6272

Hours:

Open daily; closed on Christmas Day (December 25th)

9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (November through Februray)

9:30 a.m. to 6:00 through (March through October)

General Admission (offers basic enterance to the front ramparts, chapel, great hall, courtyard, stables, main tasting room, and Knight’s Hall):

1. Price for adult 21 years and older: $18.00

2. Price for guests between 5-20 years old: $8.00 (includes juice; must be accompied by adults 21 and older)

Standard Tour (offer complete guide tour of the front ramparts, chapel, great hall, courtyard, stables, underground catacombs, dungeon/torture chamber, main hall and tasting room):

1. Tours for adults (21 and older) $33.00

2. Tours for younger visitors: (5-20; also includes juice) 23.00 (under 21 may only enter the castle accompanied by 21 or older)

Note: There is a membership club card discount for 16.50 (max of four visitors per membership. The Tour is roughly 2 hours long. There is also a tour of the vineyard ground for the same prices.

Description:

This beautiful medieval castle (the name translates as “Castle of Love” from Italian) was the dream project of V. Sattui winery owner, Dario Sattui. He always loved the grand castles of medieval Europe and wished to create a true and properly realistic European castle in the heart of California’s wine country.

Built in part from actual stones from old 13th century castle from Spain and other castles (it actually sports a turret from a Spanish castle), this wonderful stone palace was constructed from the ground up to be a truly authentic castle of Tuscany from The Middle Ages.

It has every possible accommodation of the time (the 13th century): a moat, drawbridge, grand hall, chapel and even a torture chamber (furnished with an Iron Maiden and a spiked chair). The castle offers a fantastic tour which takes visitors through the courtyard, into the lower levels of the winery and through such rooms as the Catacombs and the Knight’s Hall.

It’s just a great place to bring the entire family. The beautiful recreation of the times of knights and maidens brings out of the child-like fascination in all of us. You are practically stepping back in time to the era of King Arthur with jousts and grand festivals; and royalty resplendent in grand robes and armor.

Since it was built, Castillo Di Amorosa has appeared on the Big Screen; being used as a backdrop in the Adam Sandler / Disney movie "Bedtime Stories". The visitor center offers postcards, DVD’s and medieval-style wine glasses and other merchandise.

Chataeu Montelena

The famous old entrance to the winery. This image is printed on all the bottles.
The famous old entrance to the winery. This image is printed on all the bottles. | Source
A showcased bottle of the contest-winning 1973 Chardonnay.
A showcased bottle of the contest-winning 1973 Chardonnay. | Source
The Jade Lake
The Jade Lake | Source
One of the two islands connected by the crooked footbridges.
One of the two islands connected by the crooked footbridges. | Source
A markerChateau Montelena Winery -
1429 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga, CA 94515, USA
get directions

Chateau Montelena:

Located at 1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515

(707) 942-5105.

Hours: Daily 9:30 a.m. to 4: 00 p.m.

Prices: $20.00 per person (for basic tastings)

The Library Room tastings (which happen twice daily at 11:30 and 1:30 p.m. Reservation are needed): $40.00 per person for special tastings of rarer wines.

Description:

This famous winery, which won worldwide acclaim in the 1976 wine tasting contest in Paris, France by beating all other wines for 1st Place (for its 1973 Chardonnay) and put California wines and wineries on the international map, still is creating exquisite wines of all types for all palates. The story of the place going from a struggling winery all the way to the French competition is showcased in the 2008 movie “Bottle Shock” (starring Bill Pullman, Chris Pine and Alan Rickman).

The tasting room / visitor’s center of Chateau Montelena offers a casual, open-bar style setting with merchandise (includes t-shirts, bottle openers, wine glasses, and a book on the legendary 1976 Paris Wine tasting contest that the winery won), and a friendly atmosphere. There are also a plethora of wall pictures of the winery from days of yore, and an original bottle of the award-winning 1973 chardonnay encased for viewing. There is an area in the back of the tasting room that exhibits pictures from the production of the 2008 “Bottle Shock” movie, signed by the actors, when scenes were filmed at the winery

Adjacent to the main house, on the grounds behind the winery, includes a vast and beautiful landscape with a grand pond with Asian-inspired décor; known as the “Jade Lake”, with crooked footbridges that connect two small islands (the islands are closed to the public, but open members of the WineMaker’s Club).

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    • Edgar Arkham profile image
      Author

      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Thank you for reading; glad you enjoyed it.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      I found it really interesting to read your side of the story. I have enjoyed reading it. I have never been to a place like this but it seems that can be a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing it! Voted up and more!