Epicures and fine arts enthusiasts convene for wine country’s most extraordinary annual affair
Words by MARIE LOOK
Gourmands and social types gathered in wine country this July for Festival Napa Valley, an annual cultural affair in celebration of the region’s finest in arts, wineries, restaurants, resorts and more.
Among this edition’s highlights was the Arts for All Gala, held on Sunday, July 14, on the picturesque grounds of Hall Wines in St. Helena. The premier charity event for the festival, the gala is one of the West Coast’s largest fundraisers for arts education, and by night’s end had raised a record-setting $2.6 million to provide free and affordable access to concerts, arts education programs for school children, and scholarships for emerging musicians.
Hosted by Kathryn Hall — the former ambassador to Austria under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and a founder (along with her husband, Craig) of Hall Wines — and emceed by Emmy Award-winning journalist Leslie Frank, the Arts for All Gala included an exquisite dinner paired with vintages by Hall, Walt and Domaine Carneros wineries, as well as a performance by singer-songwriter legend Seal.
As notables like Paul and Nancy Pelosi, Fritz Hatton, and Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem looked on, the four-time Grammy winner rolled through his hit “Kiss From a Rose” plus iconic jazz and swing classics from his album Standards. During the course of the evening, lavish lots were auctioned off to support the arts, ranging from commemorative 3-liter bottles by Napa Valley’s finest vintners to a VIP experience at Wimbledon 2010 to a private concert by legendary crooner — and 19-time Grammy winner — Tony Bennett at The Napa Valley Reserve.
One of the most buzzworthy lots was an elegant Italian experience courtesy of jewelry maker Pomellato. With a winning bid of $80,000, two jet-setters secured the opportunity to enjoy Pomellato’s bespoke adventure, encompassing luxury accommodations in Venice and Milan; attendance to the 2020 Venice Film Festival and 2020 Venice Biennale Architettura; curated visits to the former haunts of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Giuseppe Verdi and Giorgio Armani; and a meet-and-greet with Pomellato’s master jewelers and designers at the brand’s Milanese goldsmith workshop.
Pomellato jewels were once again front and center as CEO and president of Pomellato Americas Nathalie Diamantis hosted two exceptional vintner luncheons later in the week, at Las Alcobas on Friday, July 19, and at La Luna Vineyards on Saturday, July 20. The former treated the exclusive guest list — festival chairman Timothy Blackburn; Stephen and Maggie Oetgen; and board members Richard Hechler and Malin Giddings, and Jose Luis Nazar; among others — to world-class wines and a meal by renowned farm-to-table chef Chris Cosentino of the Bay Area’s Incanto plus serene views of the surrounding vineyards and nearby creek.
The following day, gastronomes such as festival president and CEO Rick Walker in addition to Andre Crisp, Romana Bracco, Julie Coplon, Mahvash and Pepper Jackson, descended upon La Luna to enjoy an alfresco, “Old World meets New World”-inspired luncheon as they were serenaded by cellist Sophia Bacelar. For both special occasions, Pomellato’s avant-garde creations were on display, tempting guests to admire the colorful gemstones and sophisticated designs up close.
Additional high points of this year’s festivities included: opening night on Friday, July 12 — an evening of opera under the stars, courtesy of renowned soprano Joyce El-Khoury, tenor Francesco Demuro and baritone Lucas Meachem, at Meadowood Napa Valley; a performance the next day by British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason (who gained worldwide recognition after playing at the 2018 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle); an intimate tour of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on Monday, July 15; and, later that same day, a private concert by Broadway legend Patti LuPone in the wine cave of luxury property Calistoga Ranch.
Delivering once again a jam-packed schedule of unforgettable vintner luncheons, patron dinners, inspired concerts and cultural programs in some of the region’s most exceptional settings, Festival Napa Valley affirmed its commitment to bringing the transformative power of the arts to all.
Feature image: The tented setting of FESTIVAL NAPA VALLEY’s 2019 Arts for All Gala. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.
July 31, 2019