Throughout the six-book Medici Warrior series, the reader will be introduced to the estate that Shade named after his pet name for Kate, Bel Rosso. Bell Rosso is Italian for beautiful red, and his tribute to her bright red hair. In Book One, the 3,000-acre estate that Shade acquired through a business deal with Alec is in disrepair. It is here that he brought Kate.
Shade owned vineyards in his home country of Italy, plus vineyards in France and Greece. He produced wine for mortal consumption, but he also produced a wine called Midnight, which was a combination of blood and red wine, that was sold exclusively to the vampire community. It helped take the edge off until they could feed. He had already begun the job of restoring the neglected vineyards at Bel Rosso when he brought Kate to the abandoned Tuscan style house, also in need of some massive renovations.
Through the course of the books, the vineyards flourished. Kate would add sunflowers and lavender to the crops grown at Bel Rosso, and Shade brought thoroughbred horses to graze in the pastures as they acquired the property adjoining their own, expanding the estate to 4,500 acres, sitting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I felt like the estate became as critical to the story as any of the characters.
Since many of the places mentioned in the books are real places, I’m sure readers will wonder if Bel Rosso was based on a real place, and the answer is, sort of. For those of you not familiar with central Virginia, it is both horse country and wine country. The racehorse Secretariat was raised on a horse farm in Virginia, and Virginia wine country is second only to Napa Valley, California (Yes, Shade owns vineyards in Napa too). There are also farms that produce lavender and sunflowers.
As a native of this area, I basically compiled the beauty of the horse farms, the numerous vineyards, as well as the sunflower and lavender farms, into a single estate to create this visual paradise. I recreated the house based on homes I had visited in Tuscany, so it is also a composite of real places.
There is one particular vineyard in Virginia that did combine owning horses with the vineyards and is located at the base of the mountains that served as my primary source of inspiration. For the more adventurous among you, I left very good directions in Book One, and some clues along the way, that if you wanted to track it down in real life, you probably could find it. And yes, they do provide a tour. But just like Bel Rosso, the house is off-limits.
Here is a sneak peek of the Bel Rosso estate for your enjoyment. If you’d like more of a “tour” of the fictional house at Bel Rosso, the gardens, the vineyards, and even the staff quarters, visit my Pinterest page.
Happy hunting to all my Medici warriors!