San Francisco & Napa Valley: Day 4 (Part 2)

January 18, 2013

Before our unforgettable Trafalgar Tours farewell dinner we had one last winery to visit.  What I love most about Napa Valley, as opposed to other destinations saturated with wineries, is that each winery has its own uniqueness — something special that helps to separate it apart from the rest.  They definitely do not blend together and this is certainly the case for Castello di Amorosa, a Medieval-style Tuscan castle and winery.

We were given a private guided tour of the sprawling 171-acre property, which includes  levels and 107 rooms.  We also learned about its infamous owner, Dario Sattui, who is a 4th generation vintner and is obsessed with a particular 13th Century stone castle in Italy.  He has spent over a decade of his life trying to make Castello di Amorosa an exact and authentic replica of this beloved castle and has done an extraordinary job thus far.

During our wine tasting we were informed that their secret to good wine is to combine traidtional wine making methods with modern technology, which in turn produces California wines that tastes similar to Italian wines.  The perfect mix if you ask me!

Again, our stay there was too brief, but our Travel Director wanted to show us the “Hidden Treasure” for the Napa Valley portion of our trip.  As previously mentioned, on every Trafalgar Tours guided vacation, guests are taken on a surprise adventure to a place that they would never experience traveling on their own.  Our hidden treasure was the CIA, aka the Culinary Institute of America.  Our stop had nothing to do with food though, we were there too see the world’s largest corkscrew collection.  Of course, my favorite corkscrew was the golden elephant!

Our evening ended at Ramekins Culinary School, where we were split into groups for a hands-on cooking class.  With top chef instructions, we created a 4-course gourmet meal for ourselves to enjoy.

I would be lying if I did not admit that I was apprehensive about this experience.  Me and cooking just do not go well together, however 1) I am always up for a challenge and 2) we were given plenty of champagne before we began.  My group was in charge of preparing the appetizers: crispy wonton cups with apple and brie.

I found it nearly impossible to not want to eat the ingredients before using them for their intended purpose, but I did my best to resist. Surprisingly, the wonton cups were easy to make and everyone seemed to love them.  For dinner, I was served a four cheese ravioli dish and for dessert a New York cheesecake with cherry Merlot sauce.

In between bites, me and some of the other amazing female journalists in the group decided to pose for a quick photo opp (left to right: @andiperullo, @butterflydiary, @andi_fisher, @abbytegnelia, @cheryltiu, @lieselhlista).

I did not think it was possible for me to fall more in love with Trafalgar Tours, but I did.  Without a doubt, I think they have amassed the best travel company in the world and I highly recommend treating yourself to one of their guided vacations.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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47 thoughts on “San Francisco & Napa Valley: Day 4 (Part 2)

  1. cata

    I’m with my sister (the one that lives in San Jose) and I just requested that we visit this place next time I visit. I love the 2nd pic

  2. Patty

    Ah I’m nostalgic for Cali now! And my heart skipped a beat at that wine opener collection! What I would do for that!

    Looks like a fantastic trip!

  3. Emily in Chile

    Cooking classes are the best because you are basically guaranteed a restaurant-level meal, and you also get the satisfaction of doing it yourself. This trip really does sound wonderful!

  4. Jenna

    What a fun end to a great trip. I have driven by Castelo many times but have not been there yet. I actually will be going there next month as part of a Calistoga stay. I love that the tour included a surprise, and what an amazing one it was!

  5. Kyle

    Napa can be fun for kids as well, it’s not just for adults. Both the Castello di Amorosa and the Culinary Institute of America are places we included when we wrote a children’s book about Napa.

  6. Abby

    Love us!! I will probably post our class photo, too, if that’s ok lol. Your photos of the castle are beyond stunning. Truly, truly beautiful!!!

  7. Kathryn

    Sounds like a perfect day to me. The castles looks fascinating, the wine delicious… and your feast at the end to top it off. A tour I would love to do myself one day.

  8. Anna @ IHOD

    What a beautiful place! I am dying to hit up Napa Valley one day….when I can drink wine and enjoy it;)
    Loving these pics!

  9. Jim Sullivan


    This is an absolutely beautiful blog. Your images are stunning and capture the sense of place in the Napa Valley. We are honored to be included and will share this with our friends and colleagues.

    Warm regards,


    Jim Sullivan
    Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing
    Castello di Amorosa

    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you sincerely for your kind words! I’m really touched!!! I’m delighted to have visited your gorgeous property, I found it incredibly special and I hope to return soon. Please let me know if you’d like any of the images!

      Best wishes,

  10. Andi

    Great photos at the chateau, I love the treatment on them. We did not get to spend nearly enough time there, I totally want to go back!

  11. Jane

    Hi Andi,
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Napa Valley to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you 🙂


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