Flax field

Flax field

Friday, August 16, 2013

Traveling with the Family

Last year, my son did a photo tour down the Oregon and Northern California coasts.  He really enjoyed the giant redwoods, so we decided to spend a week looking at the same area, and San Francisco and Napa Valley.

I haven't gone through all the pictures, but I had such a great time in St. Helena, that I have a few pictures to show.
Castillo di Amorosa
Last year I got to see Italian medieval castles, this year I got to taste wine at a vineyard where the owner spent 14 years recreating an ancient Italian castle.  He shipped over some of the stone, craftsmen and had lots of stuff (door hinges, etc) from Italy that was made for the castle. His wine is spectacular also.  Unfortunately it is only sold at the castle and does not ship to Utah, of course!...?  I need to find a friend over the border to get wine shipped for me!?

Over looking the patio
He even used different styles of building, just like the old castles were built.  The chapel is an older more roman 12th century look and the wall next to it a more 14th century look.  I guess they have some great parties on the patio...great food and great wine.

Another view from the patio
There are some modern things that seem out of place.  There is an elevator in a corner of the hallway, and California required automatic sprinklers all over the building in case the stone caught on fire!  The restrooms were modern, the water automatically came on when you put your hands under the dragon's mouth faucet.

Dragon motifs were all over the castle

You enter through the drawbridge over a moat.
There were animals and flowers all over the grounds, and acres of grapes.  My DH was very interested in how they trim the grape vines in Napa, he will work on the ones we have at home to see if we get a better crop of grapes and easier to pick.
Grape vines from Mondavi vineyards.

There were lots of out buildings that added to the scenic views.  Also out back was a large lot for trucks to drive into and bring the grapes for processing.  Even back there the walls around the lot were medieval looking and from the outside you did not realize the modern wine making going on.

The castle is about 8 floors, and four of those are under ground.  Lots and lots of "caves" for the wine to age.
Rows and rows of barrels for the wine.
Both sides of the hallways were lined with barrels and there were hallways going all directions...

Waiting for the Mondavi tour
We also tasted wine at the Mondavi vineyards.  The basic and high end wines they produce are available here, but not the premium wines we got to taste.  DH likes these wines, so he really wanted to see the processing.  They have a more modern looking processing plant, but great oak barrels for the fermenting and again lots of barrels for aging.  There aging is not underground or in caves, but has the temperature and humidity controlled to feel like you are in a cave.

Many of the fields of grapes in Napa Valley had roses planed at the ends of the rows.  I don't know why for sure, but it made very beautiful fields.

I will try to get some of the pictures from the Redwoods to put on the blog next week.


  1. Traditionally, along the California coast roses are planted with the vines because roses are a close cousin to grapes and being more temperamental show signs of disease and stress before grapes do. They are, in effect the canary in the coal mine. They also require about the same kind of care.
    Stephanie S.

  2. Interesting. I'd always been told the roses were to attract the bees for pollination.
    And your pictures are lovely. I've lived and traveled in that area. It's so beautiful!

  3. Wonderful photos! That looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for sharing this.