Festival del Sole 2015

Festival del Sole 2015

As the end of summer approaches, I enjoy looking back on the season’s highlights. From the non-stop fun we had at the PopUp Dinner Wine Country put on by Handmade Events in late May (not technically summer but close enough) to the fantastic Broadway Under the Stars performance in July, and of course our epic celebration of Bill’s 50th birthday when we visited Madonna Inn, Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Hotel del Coronado, Los Angeles and Carmel, this summer was filled with fun, friends and adventure!

One of my favorite highlights from this summer was covering Festival del Sole 2015. You may remember last year I attended several Festival del Sole events. I did yoga at Harvest Inn, ate and sipped my way around A Taste of Napa, attended a health seminar where I had a vitamin IV and I had the privilege of attending a live performance by Zukerman Chamber Players followed by an incredible sit-down dinner at Robert Mondavi Winery.


When I was asked to cover the festival again this year, I said yes immediately! Festival del Sole is not only a fantastic celebration of dance, music, art, wine and food but it supports arts education. 2015 marks the 10th year for this well-attended event.

A few weeks before the event I received my itinerary. With a calendar full of over 60 events happening over the course of 10 days, I had no idea where I’d be going or what I’d be doing at Festival del Sole. But based on last year’s experience, I knew it would be wonderful and I was right.

I’d attend three consecutive nights at the festival. First a ballet, then a play the following evening, and ending the festival with a concert, all performances followed by after-parties.

I had two tickets so my husband could go with me. We made a three-night date out of it. It was exciting to do something new! Over the hill to Napa Valley we went to the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville.


Before the performance we visited the VIP section for a glass of wine and something to nibble on.


There we met Jesse McQuarrie, owner of Feast Catering. He had the tastiest and most clever fingers foods!

His Caesar Salad rolls were hard to stop eating. They were so full of wonderful umami flavor. And the duck chorizo wontons were crispy and a little spicy. Perfect with a glass of bubbles!


Of course for events like this, I must dress up a bit. I’ve never been much of a dress person but it seems I am becoming one! Besides, it was hot out and pants just seemed too heavy.

The first night, I wore a Karina “Trudy” Dress with pink suede pumps and a few tassel bracelets from Sweetland Designs.

The following night I wore a cute little denim dress with bell sleeves that I bought at a Fleurtique, a boutique on the plaza in Sonoma. The final evening I wore a printed blue maxi dress I bought at Madonna Inn’s dress shop with a Michael Golan Evil Eye necklace.


Soon we were asked to take our seats for the ballet performance. No photography was allowed inside the auditorium. It would have been too distracting for other audience members and, although I generally love taking photos, it was lovely just to just watch and not worry about it!

Thankfully, I sourced a few photos from the professional photographers hired to capture beautiful moments like these:

Photo by Bob McClenahan

Photo by Bob McClenahan

The Dance Gala featured a variety of performances from ballet companies including New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Royal Ballet and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

Such a beautiful thing to watch. I was entranced!

Photo by Bob McClenahan

Photo by Bob McClenahan

After the ballet, Bill and I drove up the valley to one of my favorite wineries, Merryvale Vineyards. You may remember I and several other lifestyle bloggers visited Merryvale for Bloggers in Napa Valley.

The after-party took place in the cask room, a dimly lit and romantic setting with candle light and a faint smell of oak and fermenting wine. A jazz trio played while guests enjoyed Italian fare from Tra Vigne, including my personal favorite, Mozzarella al Minuto. It was a beautiful evening and the ideal way to conclude our first day of Festival del Sole.


The following evening, we returned to the Lincoln Theatre, this time to see a play. Pinot Noir Unscripted was a completely improvised full-length play performed in the Film Noir style, but with plenty of humor. I loved it! I can’t imagine being an actor, let alone an actor who must improvise and interact with several other players, all while making it looked rehearsed. What talented people!

Photo by Paul E. Richardson

Photo by Paul E. Richardson

After the play ended, we drove to downtown Napa to the Quent Cordair Fine Art Gallery. We tasted sushi, mingled with the crowd and enjoyed a little wine while admiring the gallery’s fantastic collection. If you enjoy art, Quent Cordair Gallery is a must-visit when in Napa.

The next evening was the last night of Festival del Sole. For the final performance of the 2015 season, we were treated to a closing concert featuring the Russian National Orchestra, with conductor, Constantine Orbelian.

Midori, a master musician who you may recall made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11, played the violin. And Ildar Abdrazakov, a Russian bass opera singer, performed.


What a mesmerizing evening and such a privilege to see and especially to hear!


Photo by Bob McClenahan

Photo by Bob McClenahan

After the closing concert, we joined other guests at Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa. We tasted a few different wines from small Napa Valley producers and enjoyed a catered buffet of ribs and coleslaw. It was a lovely warm evening and many party-goers enjoyed the upstairs patio but it was a bit too crowded for us and we stayed inside. It’s a fun place to visit with a wonderful selection of wines.


I hope to partake in Festival del Sole again next summer. With so many amazing events, delectable wine and wonderful food offered, it’s sure to be another fantastic festival. Visit the Festival del Sole website and follow them on Facebook for updates about next year’s events!

Make it a rich day!



Disclosure: I was given two tickets to the aforementioned performances and after-parties. All opinions expressed here are, as always, my own. 


  1. September 12, 2015 / 12:12 pm

    Whew. That’s quite a whirlwind of food, wine, and culture. Must have been wonderful. You certainly looked wonderful in your dresses. Loved that bell-sleeved one in particular.

  2. Kathy
    September 14, 2015 / 7:05 am

    You really live in the most magical place – rustic and in the country, but with plenty of cultural activities.

  3. Pingback: Summer 2015

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