Visionary leadership coupled with an unwavering commitment to bring Old World building techniques to America has earned Castello di Amorosa’s Dario Sattui a prestigious Certificate of Appreciation award from the California Heritage Council (CHC), the oldest state-wide historical buildings preservation organization.
Sattui was recognized for using European tradesmen and materials, and for educating local tradesmen, while constructing the 121,000-square-foot Castello di Amorosa winery.
“I am truly honored to be recognized by the California Heritage Council,” Sattui said. “We built this castle just like it would have been done in the 12th century by using hand-cut wood, chiseled stone and iron forged over an open flame. It’s a fitting honor to my Italian forbearers and provides one of the world’s most unique backdrops for our fine Italian-style wines.”
Following some 30 years of research and 15 years of hand-made construction, Sattui, a fourth-generation Italian winemaker and owner of Napa Valley’s award-winning, V. Sattui winery, opened Castello di Amorosa winery on April 9, 2007.
His construction team included naval architect and Italian builder Lars Nimskov, master builder Fritz Gruber from Austria, Italian builder Paolo Ardito of Bolognia, and numerous artisans from Italy. The project employed workers from five countries who utilized materials from eight countries.
Founded more than 40 years ago, the CHC is dedicated to preserving and honoring those places, buildings and individuals that have contributed to the cultural heritage of California. In addition, the CHC honors those sites whose owners have significantly enhanced the historic value of their properties by appropriate preservation, restoration or re-use.
“In the case of the Castello di Amorosa,” stated CHC Executive Vice President Christopher Layton, “the CHC Board found superior merit in Dario Sattui’s utilization of historic building techniques and materials in the creation of a contemporary structure with certifiable roots in the Medieval past.”
Castello di Amorosa is a Tuscan castle-winery complete with high walls and five defensive towers, and more than 30 acres of estate vineyards.
After decades of research, planning and studying Medieval castles in Italy and Europe, Sattui commenced building in 1994. The Castello evolved to include 107 rooms (of which 95 are used for winemaking or wine storage), 8,000 tons of hand-squared stone, eight levels (four above ground, four below), 900 linear feet of caves, a great hall with two-story Italian frescoes, a drawbridge and a moat.
Reminiscent of Old World castles, the Castello also has a dungeon and torture chamber, secret passageways, courtyards, loggias, a church and stables. Finally, at 12,000 square feet, the wine barrel room is, perhaps, the single most impressive barrel room in the U.S., constructed with ancient Roman cross-vaulted ceilings.
Guided tours, which include a private wine tasting, are available by appointment. Wine tasting sans the tour does not require an appointment.
Castello di Amorosa is located at 4045 Highway 29, 5.5 miles north of St. Helena. For more information, visit castellodiamorosa.com or call 707-967-6272.