Great Northern California Wineries To Visit
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.
Located at 1345 Henry Road, Napa, CA 94559
Tasting Room / Visitor Center:
Open: Daily from 10 to 5 p.m. (last pour at 4:30)
Prices: $10-15 per person
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
Castillo di Amorosa:
Located at 4045 North St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515
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.
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.
Located at 1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515
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.
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).