My favorite moments from this year’s Festival del Sole were deeply influenced by the cultural upbringing of key winery proprietors in the Valley. It all started with the Founder's Dinner on Wappo Hill, hosted at the home of French wine magnate Jean-Charles Boisset and his wife of equal wine fame Gina Gallo. Together their Franco-American tribute celebrated Bastille Day, united countries, cuisine and amazing wines. Their home is the former Mondavi residence. The couple has inserted their own spirit with colorful pieces that offer beauty, wit and humor. The surrealist decor is a combination of eclectic art and furnishings often designed and commissioned by the couple. After the cocktail hour guests took their seats for dinner around the enormous indoor pool, equipped with retractable overhead roof, changing underwater lights, Baccarat chandeliers and toy sharks. It was a wonderfully surprising way to kickstart the festival.
Later in the week Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi along with Co-hosts Gerret and Tatiana Copeland of Bouchaine, Co-hosted Dynasties at the Khaledi’s winery Darioush. It was a night to honor Russia and Persia that spared no expense. The winery itself is an architectural tribute to Persian heritage, done in the style of the former capital Persepolis. In the courtyard, under a sky of soaring columns the Russian National Orchestra played for arriving guests. Delicacies and delectables from each region spilled out over silver platters in a cornucopia of wealth fit for royalty.
From there, guests were entranced by the hypnotic sounds of Iranian-born vocalist Mamak Khadem. Each poetic plea left her lips with the intention of traveling overseas, across desserts and through time. During dinner, the Shahrzad Dance Company kept the energy high with performances of traditional folk dance. Ululation could be heard everywhere through the dazzling tent, from the dancers and many of the Iranian friends of Shahpar and Darioush visiting from far and wide. Swept up by the moment Darioush himself joined the stage encouraging others to dance along with the festivities.
Other highlights during the festival included appearences from Robert Redford and other stars, and performances from five time Tony and Grammy winning singer and actress Audra McDonald. McDonald made another San Francisco headline on stage at the Symphony Opening Night Gala just months later.
Check out the Hot Shots section to see moments from Festival del Sole and who else attended.
All the best – Moanalani Jeffrey