A Majestic Step Back In Time at The Castello’s Midsummer Medieval Festival
By Eileen Solis Rogers
Photography by Christian Thomas
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Napa Valley’s Castello di Amorosa hosted its seventh annual Midsummer Medieval Festival on Saturday, June 21st. I had the privilege of being whisked back over the centuries into the Middle Ages for an evening of Medieval activities including a full-contact Jousting Tournament and a Royal Feast, all while enjoying their finely-crafted Italian-style wines throughout the evening!
The perpetual charm of Castello’s castle grounds is the perfect setting for this event. All guests, including myself, donned Medieval outfits with representations from the nobles, the peasants, the clergy of the church, the burghers, as well as the military, ranging from knights in shining armors to common foot soldiers. But regardless of what class our outfits represented that evening, we were all treated equally well, like kings and queens, from beginning to the end was a Medieval feast in all the senses!
Our evening started with a glass of Pinot Grigio – its crispness was perfect to cool guests from the late afternoon sun. Our little hike to Lake Mario included tasting bites of Ratatouille with Goat Cheese in Phyllo, Skewers of Heirloom Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella, drizzled with EVOO mixed with fresh herbs, and Prociutto-Wrapped Melons, all while being serenaded by minstrels walking around with lutes and tambourines, making for a typical Medieval village life experience. Our surroundings also included goats and sheep who freely grazed in the field, making the experience even more authentic.
Lake Mario and its surroundings was the backdrop for a variety of Medieval games including Archery, Sword Fighting, Falconry, Trebouchet and Weaving/Spinning demonstrations. A collection of Castello di Amorosa wines including Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gioia were available for tasting, along with Fresh Baked Flatbread with rosemary, onion and walnuts, which was enjoyed with the rich flavors of Heads of Roasted Garlic and a selection of Hard Cheeses.
The Royal Tournament and Joust was the main entertainment for the evening and guests were escorted to sit on bales of hay for a great view of horsemanship, bravery and chivalry. The competition was fierce as evidenced by the cheering of the guests. The knights sure won many of the evening’s ladies’ hearts with their acts of valor.
A lavish Royal Feast awaited at the Courtyard where the table settings included a personalized menu, knives and spoons only as eating with our hands is encouraged. Large forks were used mainly for serving the family-style banquet. The First Course was a delicious White Gazpacho with English Cucumbers, Green Grapes, Onions, Almonds and White Pepper which was paired with Pinot Bianco 2012. The Entrée of Roasted Farm Chicken and Summer Sausage with Grilled Lemon and Spring Onions, Italian Porchetta with Herb Pecorino Stuffed Salsa Rosamarino, and Heritage Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Thyme and Roasted Seasonal Vegetables were served family style and paired with Il Brigante 2010. Dessert included Rustic Polenta Cake Bites, Whole Strawberries and Mini Apple Croustade which paired really well with Il Raggio Del Sole 2012. Entertainment continued at the banquet with 2 different sets of minstrels, a juggling act, a little bit of dancing and knights in shining armor. The fete in the stone-walled courtyard with colorful opulent linens on the long banquet tables and white candles in wrought iron candelabras lent for a more rustic Medieval atmosphere that is unforgettable!
But the evening didn’t end there. Guests, upon request, were guided to an underground tour of the dungeon, the torture chamber, the secret passageways, the chapel and the knights’ chamber, wrapping up the evening in pure Medieval splendor. The Midsummer Medieval Festival is a true Napa valley treasure not to be missed!
Visit Castello Di Amorosa
4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515