A Look at Festival Napa Valley’s Tribute to Margrit Mondavi

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The dinner tent at Far Niente
The dinner tent at Far Niente

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Last week, Far Niente winery was the setting for a memorable cultural affair—a part of Festival Napa Valley—that honored Margrit Mondavi, Napa Valley’s greatest leading lady. The winery, which was founded in 1885 and restored by Beth and Gil Nickel in the 1970s, is 13 acres of beautiful gardens and vineyards. It was the ideal place to pay tribute to Mondavi. She was celebrated for her contribution to the wine, food, and art communities and the enrichment it provided to the lives of Napa Valley citizens for the past four decades.

Sophia Loren with her son Carlo Ponti Jr.
Sophia Loren with her son Carlo Ponti Jr.

More than 300 fellow vintners and guests attended the tribute, including screen legend Sophia Loren and her son conductor, Carlo Ponti Jr., jazz superstar Dave Koz, and Grammy-nominated vocalist Monica Mancini (yes, she is the daughter of maestro Henry Mancini). Koz and Mancini provided the delightful live entertainment of the evening. Guests were treated to fabulous wine country cuisine executed by chefs Lidia Bastianich and Fortunato Nicotra of Felidia. The lobster salad and heirloom tomato “Caprese” paired with 2013 Far Niente Cave Collection Chardonnay while the beef tagliata with mushrooms and local greens was paired with 2013 Far Niente Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon. Next was the 2009 Far Niente Cave Collection Cabernet Sauvignon followed by the desert reception at the Cabernet Grill where a desert buffet was served with Far Niente’s signature 2010 Dolce, known as “liquid gold from the Napa Valley”.

Margrit Mondavi, Sophia Loren, and Carlo Ponti Jr.
Margrit Mondavi, Sophia Loren, and Carlo Ponti Jr.

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

The highlight of the evening was Margrit’s speech. Although looking frail on her wheelchair, Margrit told the story of her 40-plus years in the Napa Valley with wit and humor. She thanked Sophia Loren for her support and joked that she wished she grew up with tall long legs like Sophia. She applauded her friends Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem for their generous contribution to the art and music in Napa Valley and for underwriting the tribute evening. What a touching and magical evening!

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