Barrett Wissman

Festival Del Sole

FrancescoDemuroSet among lush rolling foothills and breathtaking vineyard landscapes, Napa Valley Festival del Sole brings together the best music, fine wine, cuisine, art and wellness for an authentic “feast for the senses” (The New York Times).

The story of Festival del Sole, as its name suggests, starts in Italy in the 1990’s, where, IMG Artists Chairman Barrett Wissman and wife, cellist Nina Kotova, had often discussed organizing an event somewhere in the world where friends could make music together in a warm welcoming atmosphere with their neighbor, Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun. Mayes suggested that Cortona might be the very location for such a gathering.

In 2003, the Tuscan Sun Festival was born, and has matured into an annual event that continues to be artist-led while simultaneously embracing the proud spirit of the local community. Regularly presenting prominent musicians, the Tuscan Sun Festival became the first event of its kind to provide such a platform and combine it with a pure celebration of life so abundant in Tuscany. The festival incorporates an array of ‘Festival Events’ which include fine art exhibitions, culinary events, wine tastings, lectures and other literary events, as well as the outstanding musical concerts.

3447-047_jhFairSo it was only a matter of time until someone realized the natural affinity between the Napa Valley and Tuscany, and the notion that beautiful music could be combined with the visual and culinary arts, wine-making and literature caught on. That person was San Francisco Bay Area attorney Rick Walker, who partnered with IMG Artists in 2006 to create Napa Valley Festival del Sole.

Internationally renowned soloists, orchestras and ensembles delight audiences over a 10-day period in settings as diverse as candlelit wine cellars to outdoor amphitheatres. The Festival also presents the best in ballet and dance as part of the Dede Wilsey Dance Series, and star singers thanks to a generous gift from the Shrem Foundation. In recent seasons, the program has been expanded to include jazz and popular music as well.

A centerpiece of the Festival’s educational mission, the Bouchaine Young Artist Series (sponsored by Bouchaine Winery) provides performance opportunities for emerging local talent. The outstanding musicians appearing at these free concerts have included winners of the Mondavi Center Young Artist Competition and the KDFC Star Search.

Napa Valley Festival del Sole enjoys the enthusiastic participation of the most prestigious Napa Valley wineries and estates, who host spectacular post-concert dinners, lunches and special events. Among the celebrity chefs featured at these events have been Thomas Keller, Cat Cora, Michael Chiarello and Gary Danko.

The Festival dedicates evenings each season in support or charitable causes, including Napa arts organizations, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Redford Center. Outreach programs encompass distribution of free concert tickets to groups serving children and seniors, and activities designed for families.

3426-504_jhfairArt exhibits, presented in conjunction with local organizations, have included The Art Books of Henri Matisse, from the Bank of America collection, and Portals to the Past, from the collection of the Society of California Pioneers.

Festival del Sole’s wellness program, taking advantage Napa Valley’s legendary winemaking and cuisine traditions, has included conferences on Cabernet and Chocolate: a Prescription for Health and Pleasures of the Plate: Composing a Symphony of Good Health with Superfoods.

Napa Valley Festival del Sole is presented under the auspices of Festival Association Napa Valley, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.