A short drive from Sacramento, Napa Valley is an unadulterated hedonist playground for aficionados of delicate wine and breathtaking landscapes. Spending a reasonably long vacation exploring this stretch of land can melt the hearts of even the biggest cynics.
On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable to ask a question laden with skepticism; “What makes Napa Valley different from other wine getaways on the planet?
How is it, in any way or capacity, better than Tuscany or Provence?” Thankfully, the answer to these questions is a long list of Napa Valley‘s hidden gems and best kept secrets, which will leave anyone yearning for a quick return.
Marvel at Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa is truly a remarkable landmark of Napa Valley. The reason for this is because the story behind it is incredibly charming yet stranger than fiction.
Dario Sattui is a winery owner whose family harkens from the beautiful and rustic Italy. This is why he decided to honor his heritage and, after he amassed enough finances, he embarked on a project that turned him into a local legend.
He built Castello di Amorosa – a medieval Italian castle adorned with lots of details and tweaks to make it appear more genuine. It has a working drawbridge, eight levels and a whopping 197 rooms. Sattui used 8,000 tons of chiseled stone to finish this architectural marvel and opened it for the public in April of 2007.
If you ever get a chance to visit Castello di Amorosa, you should know the place is not just standing there to be looked at. It is a fully functional, well-stocked winery, and with a general admission ticket you’ll gain access to a couple of levels of the castle and have an option to enjoy 5 wine tastings.
So little time, so many Napa Wineries
Of course, Castello di Amorosa is far from being the only interesting winery in the area. In fact, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a place for a drawn-out wine and dine. Thankfully, after a bit of consultation with the reliable DMC California, you’ll be able to get all the information you need and visit some of the best wineries in the area.
Whether it’s Domaine Carneros, Artesa Vineyards, Darioush or Inglenook, the best way to achieve that coveted moment of Napa Valley idyll is to time your visit to your chosen vinery just before the sun starts sliding under the horizon.
This way, you can bask in the sheer beauty of the landscape and the explosion of warm colors that roll over the vineyard and towards your dining table as you wash your delish meal down with a glass of exquisite wine.
Napa Art Galleries
If your thirst for amazing food and wine has been quenched, you can venture out to the art galleries of Napa Valley to catch some food for thought.
What might come as a surprise to some people is the sheer volume of exhibitions; and the staggering number of art galleries that dot this region. In fact, many artists bought parcels of land and built hybrids of galleries and studios; so they can easily seek refuge and find inspiration surrounded with tranquil nature.
Of course, di Rosa art gallery is a must visit for art enthusiasts. More than 2,000 diverse items of contemporary art signed by 800 serious artists fill a 220 acre estate.
Adventure in Safari West
Peter and Nancy Lang were just as ambitious as Dario Sattui; when they decided to take up a colossal project and create Safari West. The end result is an animal preserve that covers a dizzying 400 acres and serves as a home to African fauna.
If you ever wanted to feed a giraffe or see an antelope or a rhinoceros up close; this hidden gem of Napa Valley finally gives you a chance to do so.
Napa Mud Baths
Now here is something you did not expect; one of the best kept secrets of Napa Valley are definitely mud baths and geothermal springs. Calistoga Golden Haven is probably the most well-known destination for all of you who want to add a session of relaxing massage and detoxifying mud bath to the list of hedonistic things you want to try out while you are on vacation.
The sunny slopes of Napa Valley are a legendary destination for a good reason. You can spend weeks unpacking its countless secrets; and giddily inspecting all the charming little nooks and crannies that are brimming with interesting things to see.
Napa Valley is like a gaudy, warm present, wrapped in the most beautiful glittery bow and covered in Mediterranean scents; a gift that, once unwrapped, keeps on giving.