Festival Napa Valley Brings Celebs and Singers to Wine Country

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Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Besides being blonde and beautiful, what do the award-winning actresses Kristin Chenowith and Joanne Froggatt have in common? Both were in town last weekend to celebrate Festival Napa Valley—which was formally known as Festival del Sole. The 10-day musical extravaganza focuses on making the arts accessible to all and raises funds for arts education with a series of events and shows. On July 14, the festival’s founders gathered for a dinner at Cardinale Winery. Speakers included the festival’s team members Charles Letourneau and Rick Walker. Cellist Mariko Wyrick, pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilan, dancer Ron “Prime Time” Myles, and the American Canyon High School Drum Corp performed. Kendall-Jackson’s chefs, Tracy Shepos and Justin Wangler, served the food to a glamorous group of benefactors and vintners. The four course menu consisted of hamachi with compressed cucumber, lamb roulade with chard, a cheese course, and misgnardises for dessert. Guests included Maria Manetti and Jan Shrem, Gordon Getty, and Ron and Anita Wornick. Wearing a completely different, yet wonderfully fashionable outfit—think Valentino heels and Pucci prints, Kathryn Hall was the most stylish attendee at the weekend’s activities.

Cellist Mariko Wyrick and dancer Ron “Prime Time” Myles perform
Cellist Mariko Wyrick and dancer Ron “Prime Time” Myles perform

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The following night, the Festival officially started with a spectacular concert by Kristin Chenowith at the Castello di Amorosa. Chenowith wore a beautiful red lace dress while she serenaded the crowd of music lovers with timeless classics—Moon River, Over the Rainbow, and Smile, to name a few. Many of the people who were at the Founder’s Dinner were also at the opening celebration. Other guests included Festival Napa Valley’s board members Timothy and Athena Blackburn, Dario Sattui, Irina Yartseva, Prescott Ashe, and Shabnam Bhaskaran. After the show, the crowd moved to the Napa Valley Reserve for the Patron Dinner. Haute Ambassador Olivia Hsu Decker was on the scene—stay tuned for her personal account of the sensational meal.

Jennifer Brown and Kathryn Hall
Jennifer Brown and Kathryn Hall

On Sunday, wine country’s most fashionable folk descended on the Solage Calistoga for a presentation of the Brunello Cucinelli fall collection. Neiman Marcus hosted the show, which took place under the warm sun. An inspired cheese board—filled with charcuterie, bread, and grissini; tomato bruschetta, Italian seasonal vegetable soup, and yellowfin tuna crudo were some of the delicious bites guests enjoyed. Ann Getty, Maria Quiros, Gaby Ghorbani, and OJ Shansby were browsed the looks at the grassy parade.

Actress Joanne Froggart
Actress Joanne Froggart

That night, Wayne Brady—fresh from his Broadway hit Kinky Boots—hosted the Imaginarium Festival Gala at the Meadowood Napa Valley. The highlight was the live auction, which raised 1.3 million for the local arts education and was called by famed wine auctioneer, Fritz Hatton. The top lots of the night featured thrilling prizes: There was a private Burt Bacharach performance at a dinner prepared by Tyler Florence and hosted by Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo. An Opus One 12-year vertical tasting and trip to Bordeaux for six with a private after-hours tour of the Palace of Versailles. Or a rare wine dinner and private party aboard the super yacht, Bellissima. Cirque du Soleil performed “O” as in Only for You and Wayne Brady jammed—freestyle rap!—with Aldo Lopez-Gavilan. Luminaries in attendance included Downton Abbey’s Joanne Froggatt, Ted and Pamela Dekel, Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi and Maggie and Steve Oetgen. The Meadowood culinary team, delighted as always, with a peach, buratta, and hazelnut salad, duck confit paired with Napa Valley reserve wines, and an assortment of mini tartlets and cookies for dessert.

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