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Must Visit Attractions in Napa Valley

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The Castello di Amorosa, located in Calistoga, is truly one of the most unique wineries in the Napa Valley. This genuine (albeit fairly new) castle in the Napa Valley took 14 years to build and opened in 2007. The castle has many features that make it truly one of a kind here, including a moat and drawbridge, chapel and even a torture chamber, complete with authentic instruments of torture like the iron maiden (which dates back 300 years!) All of the craftsmanship in the castle was done using original, old-world techniques. The Castello offers several different wine tasting packages, although they do not have a winery on site. Visitors can also take horse-drawn carriage tours of the estate and attend church services in the castle.

This restored mill, built in 1846, still works, and visitors can see its massive millstones in action when millers grind flour out of local wheat. Bale Grist flour, literally the "run of the mill," can be purchased at the mill when demonstrations take place. Check for the sign saying "Milling Today." Bale Grist Mill demonstrations are irregularly scheduled. Demonstrations are more frequent on weekends and in summer months. The verdant surroundings are a great addition to the historic charm of this site.

If you want to taste some of the best wines, then a visit to Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa Valley is a must. Del Dotto Vineyards is a family-owned business and has been functional for more than ten years. The selling point of this winery is that it is the only place that bottles wine right out of barrels. The barrels here are housed inside the caves which gives a mystical touch to the wine touring and tasting experience. The caves here are tiled with marble and are a great place to taste the rich wines produced here.

The CIA's (Culinary Institute of America) West Coast campus resides in the former home of the Christian Brothers winery—an imposing three-story building over a hundred years old. This is a masters-level training center for working, certified chefs. Visitors can take part in cooking demonstrations and sample the chef's creation. Visit the website for demonstration times and days. CIA's Campus Store stocks an impressive supply of cookware and cookbooks for the serious cook. You may also want to dine at the campus Wine Spectator Greystone restaurant—the view of St. Helena from the terrace is grand.

Between tastings in the popular wine country, consider a peaceful time in the Petrified Forest, and learn a little bit about the geology of the area. What can be seen today is the result of the damage caused by the eruption of Mount St. Helena over three million years ago. Its blast knocked down everything in the valley, including 2000-year-old redwood trees. Over time, the ash turned the wood to stone, but it can really fool your eyes. A much larger selection of interesting stones are for sale at the gift shop. For those who are really into geology and nature, take the naturalist-led meadow walk.

Napa is the capital of California's wine country and offers a tantalizing culinary experience. Here, visitors pamper their taste buds with gourmet cuisine and passels of full-bodied wines from the valley. The trendy local boutiques and designer stores afford hours of retail therapy, while the many spas that dot the city offer relaxing massages and world-class beauty treatments that rejuvenate and refresh. Cultural experiences abound and the city is home to museums and art galleries showcasing contemporary talent. Festivals and fairs like the Napa Wine & Crafts Fair make for an interesting exposé on the local culture and food preferences and draw crowds looking to savor a gourmet experience matched by few in the world.

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