For our second day in Napa (you can read all about our Day 1 in Napa here), we had another full day of winery tours planned, which meant that we had another early start. For our second day, we were starting farther north in Calistoga and making our way down towards Napa so we decided to have a quick breakfast at Starbucks before heading to our first stop. (Chris and I also collect the Starbucks mugs from the different places that we visit, so we were also looking for the Napa Starbucks mug, but they didn’t have it.)
Castello di Amorosa
Our first winery tour of the day was at Castello di Amorosa, which is literally a medieval castle in the middle of the Napa Valley. (Side Note: Castello di Amorosa is actually the sister winery of V Sattui that we visited the day before. And like its sister winery, Castello di Amorosa doesn’t sell its wine in stores, you can only buy it at the winery.) When you walk up to the castle you’re simply awestruck that somebody actually decided to build a castle and to put so much detail into it that you actually feel like you’re visiting a castle in Europe instead of in the good ole USofA.
The original Castello di Amorosa that the winery is based on.
Because this winery is so unique (it’s a freaking CASTLE!) I definitely recommend doing the tour. The guides show you a lot of the different rooms that aren’t open to the self guided tours, and also give you the history of the winery. One of the more exciting places that we got to see on the tour was the wine caves and the dungeon under the castle (yes, they actually have a torture chamber with legit torture devices from medieval times). Another interesting part of the tour, before the actual tasting, is a barrel tasting. We got to try a 2013 cabernet that had been in the barrel for almost a year. After that tasting, I can definitely understand why wine has to age before you want to drink it.
All of the Halloween decorations they use during their annual Halloween event. Talk about something that would be super fun!
Overall, this was one of our favorite wineries that we visited, and not just for the amazing atmosphere. The wine we had was fantastic, and we actually ended up ordering a whole case before we left. Like I said previously, I would definitely recommend the guided tour and not just the self guided tour and tasting because you get to see so much more with the tour guides.
Beringer Brothers Winery
After our amazing stop at Castello di Amorosa, we made our way south to the Beringer Brothers Winery. Beringer is one of the oldest wineries in the area, so I definitely knew that I wanted to include it as one of our stops in Napa. The Beringer Brothers who started the winery were from Germany, and you could see the German influence immediately upon driving up to the winery. The Rhine House was the house of one of the brothers and it is absolutely stunning.
We decided to do the Taste of Beringer tour, and overall we enjoyed it. It wasn’t as good as the Castello di Amorosa tour, but the guide gave us a a great history of the winery and Napa as well. The tasting that was included with the tour was of 3 of their wines that were paired with different types of foods, something salty, something sour, and something sweet. Our guide let us try the different wines with the different types of food, and it was very interesting to see how the wines changed with the different flavors. We really loved the wine from Beringer, but decided to not buy any wine because we can find it at home.
Our next stop was Cakebread Cellars for a tasting. (Side Note: We had planned on eating lunch at Gott’s Roadside Diner in between tasting, but we ended up running out of time because of the reservation times for our tastings. I was really bummed because from everything that I had read online, it was supposed to be fantastic. I guess this is just another reason to go back!)
Cakebread is another very well known winery in the Napa valley that we decided to visit. Overall, the wine was very good, but it just wasn’t our favorite tasting. Our server was very nice, but after visiting Castello di Amorosa and Beringer before we were just underwhelmed. We did end up buying a bottle of wine that we fell in love with because it was an exclusive bottle to the winery in Napa that you couldn’t find in stores.
We had a couple of hours to kill before we had to be back in Napa for our trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train, so we pulled off and split a tasting at Peju. I had read great reviews online about Peju, and we were not disappointed. We were able to immediately walk in for a tasting, and our server was fantastic! We had a great time talking to him and the other people that we were tasting with.
All of the wineries had such beautiful flowers, and I loved them!
Overall, this was one of our favorite tastings and wines, and I would definitely recommend it as a great place to do a tasting. We didn’t know if we could buy Peju wine in Texas (which we were very pleasantly surprised when we were able to find it at home) so we ended up buying a bottle of wine there as well.
Napa Valley Wine Train
After Peju we made our way into Napa for our trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train. The Napa Valley Wine Train has two tours every day, one at lunch and one at dinner. We opted for the dinner tour because I didn’t want the train to cut into our visits of other wineries in the area. Also, during the summer, the dinner train gives you amazing views of the Napa Valley during sunset.
The train divides the passengers into two groups, one group eats appetizers and dinner in the dining car before moving to one of the lounge car, while the second group eats appetizers in the lounge car before moving into the dining car for dinner and dessert. We were lucky and ate dinner first and then enjoyed dessert in the lounge car.
Overall, the food was good on the train, but definitely not up to the same caliber as other restaurants in the Napa area. And although the food wasn’t the best, we really enjoyed the experience. Driving through the Napa Valley was amazing, and watching the sunset over the vineyards was the best part of the train trip. But would we do it again? Probably not.
Celebrating the husband’s birthday which was in a few day!
After another wine tasting filled day, we were very exhausted and ready to go back to the hotel for some much needed rest. The next day we were headed up to Lake Tahoe for a two days and it was going to be a pretty decent drive to get there.
Check back next time to learn about our time in Lake Tahoe!