NAPA, California (CNN) — If Barrett Wissman were in the ministry, his arts festivals would be sunny outposts on a fast-widening mission field. His Tuscan Sun Festival opens Saturday in Cortona, Italy. An all-new Singapore Sun Festival opens October 18.
And a secret known to missionaries everywhere is clearly in sway at the Festival del Sole in Napa Valley, which has just concluded its second year: Bonding with the locals.
With quick fervor, local leaders, the hospitality industry and those all-important vintners of Napa have embraced their festival.
When symphony conductor Stéphane Denève mentioned last year that he’d like to get married there, Tatiana and Gerret Copeland of the Bouchaine wine estate threw the ceremony for them in the vineyards.
“It’s a mission in my life to have more and more people enjoy and love the arts,” Wissman says in an interview sandwiched between Denève’s presentation of the Grieg piano concerto and Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” suite with the Russian National Orchestra.
“One of the reasons that we have these festivals — engage local communities and have music, literature, art, film, cuisine, wine, all these subjects — is we attract different people who like each one. And then get them to like something else. Today, our goal in education in the arts is to get everybody involved.”
Wissman is uniquely positioned to “get everybody involved.”