The Amici Del Barone, Castello di Amorosa's Wine club gathered to celebrate the fruits of the harvest. It is common that celebrations at the Castello often take on a life of their own and last Saturday's Festa del 'Uva was no exception.
While the Grape Stomp Competition was the featured event of the evening, there was plenty more to see including demonstrations featuring cooperage, hand-waxing of Il Barone bottles and cork manufacturing demonstrations by Scott Webster of Portocork. The entire Castello was open and alive with celebration.
Wine club members came from as far away as Hawaii to the Festa to eat the great food, drink great wine and stomp the heck out of some real nice Napa Valley grapes. Teams were formed with names like, FOTY, Nutmeg Alohas, Grape Nuts, Janie's Jumpers, First Crush, Oceans 11, The Grapes of Wrath, Just Juicin', The Grape Ape, The Big Squeeze, Buffalo Warriors, Purple Grape, Grape Crush, Team Squeeze-a-lot, Grape Gatsby's and Polish Power.
A picture is worth a thousand words so please enjoy the photo montage below.
The Grape Stomp Competition
First, grab as many grapes as you can and put them in huge baskets!
And then dump the Napa Valley grapes into the destemmer... carefully.
Hey, watch your head. And turn that crank, fast.
For most it was all about stomping the grapes, and for others, well....
Stomp, stomp, stomp and keep stomping.
Smiling, stomping, laughing, smiling, stomping... I think you get it.
Some stomped so hard, they lost their shirt, so to speak.
When you're done stomping, pour the Napa Valley grape juice into a bottle.
And look out for this team; obviously, they've done this before! Look at those beautiful faces of experience and the power in them legs!
However, the team with the most juice- the Grape Nuts pictured with Castello di Amorosa owner, Dario Sattui.
Hungry? How about some pizza from the Outdoor Oven
Shannon Kelly of Knickerbockers' catering putting the finishing touches on the pizza. http://www.knickerbockerscatering.com
Making a French Oak Barrel by Nadalie Cooperage
It takes great skill to make a French Oak barrel. http://www.nadalie.com/
And the perfect amount of heat provides the toast necessary to make great Castello di Amorosa wines.
Scott Webster of Portocork demonstrating the origin of cork. http://www.portocork.com/
The Torture Chamber -- Il Barone 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate
Castello di Amorosa's Il Barone was poured in the Torture Chamber that featured chocolate- tons of it. It was affectionately know as "Death by Chocolate" although no one actually died.
You see, she survived "Death by Chocolate."
One of favorite comments on the Castello di Amorosa Facebook page summarized it best:
"It was the best thing you could do, with clothes on. My thanks to Dario and all the great staff at the castle."
Veraison in the Vineyard:
Time to ramp up preparation for harvest
Veraison, or "the onset of ripening," is the time of year in the vineyards when those hard green grape berries we've been watching for weeks begin changing color and softening. It's natures producing a beautiful display of color in the vineyard as she delicately ripens the grapes. Once veraison sets, expect about six weeks until harvest begins.
The 2010 growing season started slightly wetter and cooler. March and April saw significantly lower average temperatures, a trend that continued well into May. June finished near historical averages. And in July, a pattern of onshore flows resulted in cool, foggy mornings in the Napa Valley. Due to continued cooler weather, it looks like harvest will be slightly later than previous years.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Castello di Amorosa vineyards.
Expect about six weeks until the start of Harvest of 2010. A perfect time to enjoy Napa Valley.
Pruning the Primitivo block at Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley.
Bien Nacido Vineyards chosen "Vineyard of the Year" by California State Fair.
In January of 2010, Castello di Amorosa's 2007 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay was awarded Double Gold, Best of Class at the American Fine Wine Competition in Florida; it was the top Chardonnay of over 50 Chardonnay producers from around the U.S.
And now comes confirmation of the quality of the grapes that comes from this historic, vineyard-- Bien Nacido Vineyards of Santa Maria -- it won a the prestigious "California Vineyard of the Year" at this year's California State Fair. This award recognizes a California vineyard which has consistently - over several growing seasons - produced grapes that have contributed directly to wine of superior quality and marketability within commercial sales systems and among fine wine judges.
Congratulations Bien Nacido Vineyards.
Fog descends on Bien Nacido Vineyards near Santa Maria, California (Photo courtesy of Bien Nacido Vineyards)
Hit Broadway Musical Cast of "Young Frankenstein, The Musical" Visits the Castello
The cast of Young Frankenstein in the tasting room at Castello di Amorosa. (Photo: Jim Sullivan)
The cast of the highly-acclaimed, hit Broadway Musical, "The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein, The Musical," were in the Napa Valley and dropped by the Castello recently for a tour and tasting during one of their rare days off. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, Elizabeth, Inga, The Monster, Frau Blucher, Inspector Kemp, Igor, Villagers and Ensemble- they were all here and in rare form.
Based on Mel Brooks comedy masterpiece, the story follows bright, young Dr. Frankenstein (that's Dr. Fronkensteen) as he attempts to complete his grandfather's masterwork and bring a corpse to life. (Now I see why we spent so much time in the Castello's Torture Chamber!) Together with his oddly-shaped and endearing helper Igor (that's Eye-gor), his curvaceous lab assistant, Inga and in spite of his incredibly self-involved madcap fianc, Elizabeth, Frankenstein succeeds in creating a monster-- but not without scary, and quite often hilarious complications.
There were no scary complications, no real monsters and, heavens, no corpse when they toured here. Just plenty of comedy. And I mean plenty.
Click on the link below to purchase ticket to the show and watch the video which includes Mel Brooks.
To purchase ticket and view the video
Let the games begin. The Midsummer Festival at Lake Mario.
Jousting, falconry, archery, bocce and wine at the Midsummer Festival.
Merrymaking in the Castello's Courtyard where the games continue and...
... the feast begins. Seating is available at this premiere Castello di Amorosa
Amici del Barone wine-club event. Not a wine club member? Not a problem.
Come to the event and sign up for the club on the spot.
Headlining this year's events at Castello di Amorosa include International stars Jean- Yves Thibaudet, Nina Katova; jazz-pop prodigy Nikki Yanofsky, Francesco Demuro and conductor, Omer Wellber. Also appearing is actress, singer and dancer, Rita Moreno. A recipient of the National Medal for the Arts, and an Oscar, Emmy Grammy and Tony award winner, Moreno opens the program with a special reading. The Festival runs July 16 through July 25 at other venues around the Napa Valley.
Jean Yves Thibaudet and Nina Katova (below) will join the Rossetti String
Quartet for chamber music on July 20. (Photo credit: FdS website)
Cellist, Nina Kotova (Photo credit: FdS website)
Jazz-pop prodigy, Nikki Yanofsky performs at
Castello di Amorosa on July 21. (Photo Credit: FdS Website)
On July 22, tenor Francesco Demuro (not pictured) and cellist Nina Katova headline a
concert with the Russian National Orchestra (pictured above)
Rene Fleming performs at the 2009 Festival del Sole in Castello di Amorosa's revered Courtyard. (Photo: Vi Bottaro)
"Festival del Sole is a great event." said Dario Sattui. "The Castle is a perfect backdrop to the immense talent performing throughout this great international summer music festival. This year is no exception. Once again, the lineup of international stars is incredible."
All performances take place in the Castle's outdoor Courtyard built with handmade, antique European bricks. It provides an ideal acoustical venue for world-class music.
Festival director, Richard Walker says, "Five years ago we set out to create a festival combining the best in music, art, food and wine. And we have done just that. Today Napa Valley Festival del Sole has become one of the country's leading music festivals."
The schedule at Castello di Amorosa is as follows:
Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Nina Kotova join the Rossetti String Quartet for chamber music on July 20. Renowned for its sophisticated, sensual sound, the Rossetti String Quartet is a frequent collaborator of the virtuoso French pianist.
Jazz-Pop prodigy Nikki Yanofsky performs at the Castello on July 21. The 16-year old sensation who recently sang Canada's national anthem at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics, is also poised to release her first studio album.
On July 22, tentor Francesco Demuro and cellist Nina Kotova headline a concert with the Russian National Orchestra under the baton of Omer Wellber at Castello di Amorosa. Also appearing is actress, singer and dancer Rita Moreno. A recipient of the National Medal for the Arts, and an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony award winner, Moreno opens with a special reading from Master Class , Terrence McNally's award-winning play based on the life of Maria Callas.
The ten-day schedule for Napa Valley's world-class Festival del Sole is packed with events for every taste and budget --- from classical music to tango and jazz, from exclusive gourmet meals to free family-friendly concerts, from wellness programs and art exhibitions to wine tastings and after-parties, and a first-ever croquet match between artists and vintners.
Festival del Sole operates under the umbrella of Festival Association Napa Valley, a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization.
For tickets and Festival Packages, please call 888-337-6272.
Spring is in the air at Castello di Amorosa.
New sheep, ducks, frogs and coming soon,
new baby chickens.
Juliette and her new lamb, Bella enjoying a moment on the grounds.
Mallard and her baby ducks in the Castello's Moat!
Mr. Frog in the Moat. He needs a name, any suggestions!
Spring has arrived in the Napa Valley. Make your plans to come up today. We'd love to see you!!
Castello di Amorosa receives the "Reader's Choice" award for "Best Wine Tasting Room"
The readers of the North Bay Bohemian selected Castello di Amorosa as the best wine tasting room in the Napa Valley.
Assistant Tasting Room Manager, Gary Stoffers entertains guests in Dario Sattui's Castello di Amorosa. Built over a 15 year period, the tasting room is replete with Roman cross-vaults made with European bricks that are are centuries old. Bring a friend, enjoy the wines, shop in the retail room and relax in the one of the best tasting rooms in the Napa Valley.
In many parts of the country, winter is still hanging around, but not in the Napa Valley and certainly not at Castello di Amorosa's vineyards where budbreak, the first emergence of shoots that will ultimately bear fruit, occurred earlier this week. Sangiovese showed it's buds first; Primitivo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines will budbreak next. Budbreak occurs when the vines wake from their winter dormancy and begin to show signs of life. Water drawn up through the extensive root system appears on the cuts made by pruning. This is followed by the emergence of tiny buds. Leaves eventually unfold- a fresh start to a new growing season.
Working in the vineyard is a labor of love. Pictured below is Mario Martinez, Vineyard Crew Leader. His gentle hands prepare the Primitivo vines for the growing season.
Strong hands, gentle touch.
Budbreak in the Sangiovese vineyard.
Mario Martinez tends to the Primitivo vines.