NAPA VALLEY (KRON) — World-class wine, gourmet food, the best of the arts. Each year, Napa Valley comes together for the Festival del Sole, a unique opportunity to satiate your hunger for the finer things in life.
This year’s festival lived up to its reputation – and then some. If you were fortunate enough to attend, here’s a brief recap to help you relive the magic. If not, consider it a primer for next year.
To give you some perspective, it would almost be easier to describe what didn’t happen at the festival. For ten days, more than a hundred wineries participated in dozens of events. Fine food and wine accompanied theater, opera, dance, and music.
The event is hard to top, especially when you factor in Napa’s natural beauty along with the festival’s mission to better the local community.
“Festival del Sole is a non-profit organization. We hold an annual Gala and Auction at Meadowood that provides critical funding for arts, education and community programs,” said the festival’s Executive Producer, Charles Letourneau.
“This year’s auction, which featured some extraordinary lots – including private jet trips to the Academy Awards, a runway show at the Paris Fashion Week, private viewing of the Palio in Siena, and cameo appearances on Broadway shows – raised nearly $1.5 million!”
Food and Wine
Festival del Sole is renowned for the elegant patron dinners. One of the festival’s highlights this year took place at Keller Estate. Guests dined indoors among the splendor of the estate’s collection of rare classic automobiles. The evening soiree combined gourmet, farm-to-table Mexican food paired with some stunning pinot noirs.
Few names are more closely associated with Napa than Robert Mondavi. In addition to building a wine empire, he and his family have supported Napa Valley’s growth for decades. The Mondavi family was one of the early Festival del Sole patrons, and continue to support the event.
This year, the Robert Mondavi dinner featured incredible food from estate chef Jeff Mosher. But the real treat came when the family shared bottles of their reserve wines. Now that’s something to get excited about.
Those are only two examples of the many incredible meals during the festival. Luncheons, receptions and patron dinners come fast and furious during the ten-day festival. Other fine fetes were hosted by Hess, Alpha Omega, Hall, Merryvale, Chimney Rock, Grgich Hills, and Castello di Amorosa winery.
Other than the incredible food and wine, what could be better than chamber music under the stars? The festival’s opening night met all expectations. I arrived at Castello di Amorosa winery for the pre-concert reception. Wine and appetizers served in Castello di Amorosa’s Great Hall, a beautifully frescoed room painted by Italian artist Fabio Sanzogni.
Once the reception concluded, we made our way to the 13th century Tuscan-inspired courtyard for an unforgettable performance, Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” performed by Joshua Bell with the Sphinx Virtuosi. The Castello also hosted that evening’s Patron Dinner in their 12,000 sq ft Grand Barrel Room, with an intimate 3-course meal.
“We’ve been an active part of the Festival since its inception and are always thrilled to host such incredible dinners and performances,” said Dario Sattui, owner of Castello di Amorosa Winery. “Our courtyard allows for a visually and acoustically stunning venue for the renowned conductors and performers.”
For Letourneau, a happy audience strikes a chord. “We put so much work into the festival for an entire year, and when I see people jump to their feet for a cheering, standing ovation, I realize that we are creating something that is truly special that enriches so many people’s lives,” said Letourneau.
“In fact, many people tell me that Festival del Sole is the highlight of their year!”
Although this year’s Festival has come and gone, mark your calendars next summer for the extraordinary tenth anniversary season, July 17-26 2015. Festival del Sole promises to have something for everyone, and for every budget.
“I would tell people who are unfamiliar with Napa Valley Festival del Sole that it is probably the best arts and lifestyle festival in America,” said Letourneau. “There’s music: (from classical to jazz), opera, dance, theater, visual arts, along with the region’s legendary wines and cuisine, celebrities, and wellness events, all in the idyllic beauty and perfect summer weather of Napa Valley!”
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Jennifer Boden is a KRON 4 contributor and editor of California Wine and Travel. Jennifer, a former news anchor, lives and plays in Northern California’s Wine Country. Find Jennifer online at https://www.facebook.com/californiawineandtravel