Sunday, 7 May 2017

USA Road Trip: Part 2

In my last post I told you all about the first leg of our US road trip, and I had every intention of getting the rest of the posts live pretty sharpish after that. But then life went a bit pear shaped and everything non-essential took a back seat.

But life has settled down a bit now and I’m back with the my next instalment....

So having said our goodbyes to San Francisco we headed north towards Napa Valley. We were spending the night at The Bergson in Calistoga which was the most darling hotel ever....I loved it.

**Top Tip** If you're planning a trip to Napa Valley then make booking your accommodation a priority. We left ours quite late and we had terrible trouble finding anywhere with availability (although the "Vacant" sign in the picture above makes me out to be a liar!).

We made our way at a leisurely pace to The Bergson, stopping off in the gorgeous little town of Sonoma. Sadly none of us took any pictures but it's a typical all-America town; a Town Hall taking pride of place in the centre of the square with the cutest looking shops dotted around the edges.

If you're ever in the area and Sonoma isn't on your agenda I recommend that you carve out a bit of time to visit, even if it's just to browse the shops and grab a coffee...maybe you can take a few pictures for me!!

I promised you in my last post that I had a cracker of a castle to share with you and that's what today's post is all about. The main reason for our trip taking us north to Napa valley was to take in the stunning scenery. Oh who am I kidding? We were totally there for the wine!!! But the scenery was stunning.
As anyone who has been to Napa Valley will know there are so many wineries to choose from and one of the toughest decisions of the holiday (for me, at least) was which winery do we go for. After much deliberation and “um-ing and ah-ing” we went for Castello di Amorosa, for no reason other than it’s a castle!

According to our tour guide the owner of the castle, Dario Sattui, has "a bit of a thing for castles". So much so that he had one built, you know, as you do! Sattui wanted this castle to be as authentically 13th century as it was possible for a castle in 21st century America to be. So he researched and researched some more. He sourced only the best materials for his castle from Europe; he wanted his castle to look and feel as if it had come straight from the 13th century to the extent that the construction of the castle was carried out the way it would been carried out in medieval times (we’re talking no electric tools, no modern day equipment!) According to its website and flyer, the castle took 15 years to build, has 8,000 tons of hand-squared stones in its walls and of its 107 rooms a whopping 95 are dedicated to making wine!!! Let's take a look shall we?!?
We had pre-booked a wine tour at the castle. I think we were there out of season and so buying tickets on the door, on the day, probably would not have been too much of an issue. But I can imagine that the tours are very popular in high season and so to avoid disappointment you should probably think about booking your tour in advance.
There were two types of tickets available: $40 or $50. We went for the $40 ticket. As well as your choice of 10 wines to taste (from a set list of white, rose, red and dessert wines), the price of the ticket also included a guided tour of the castle. All in all we were there for about 2 hours. From memory the only extra perk that the $50 ticket bought you was an additional two wines to taste.
We were very  surprised to see one these hidden in the depths of the castle....
I made my way as quickly as I could away from this particular contraption ;-)

As you can see from the pictures above the castle itself is gorgeous but that's nothing compared to the grounds it sits in. I haven't got as many pictures of the view as I thought I had, but the few I do have paint a beautiful scene.

So after swigging back the wines we had chosen from the list (well in my case, as the designated driver, had the teeniest, tiniest of sips of each wine), and after parting with more money than we usually would for 2 bottles of wine, it was with a heavy heart and a wistful glance back at the castle, that we made our way towards the exit, our minds already on our next destination: Lake Tahoe. And whilst I was sad to be leaving behind 95 rooms full of wine, I could not have been more excited to be headed to the lake. The only disappointment for me was that we were only going to be there for 14 hours. We were stopping off at Lake Tahoe en-route to Vegas. But more on Lake Tahoe in the next post. I hope to see you there.
Before I go, here's a bonus picture just in case you guys have been missing me ;-)

Bye for now....see you in Lake Tahoe real soon.


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