San Francisco’s Huntington Park was a buzz with festival benefactors and winery proprietors in the weeks leading up to the 6th Annual Festival del Sole. On a stage set between multi-million dollar high-rises, The Pacific-Union Club and haughty hotels, residents like Athena & Timothy Blackburn carried on with city life before setting their sights on Napa Valley.
The festival encompasses fine performing arts, masterful cuisine and great wine into two weeks of magical experiences. The gala dinner at Meadowood with its vintners croquet match, is always a high point. All across the lawn, you could see guests like Donna Summer, Tatiana & Serge Sorokko, Shahpar and Darioush Khaledi, Karen & Rick Walker, Michael Polenske, Kimberly Miller and Daru Kawalkowski. Tatiana & Garrett Copeland, who helped secure the four-year presence of the Russian National Orchestra, were seen chatting with its Conductor, Stéphane Denève. Maria Manetti Farrow, Jan Shrem, Nina Kotova and Barrett Wissman were also seen mingling with Baritone, Guido Loconsolo and Soprano, Nino Machaidze.
This year’s dinner auction boasted Grammy award tickets, backstage passes and private rehearsals for stars like Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Once the bidding was over Soprano, Angel Blue took the stage. In a gown the royal hue of her name, she pierced the night with the voice only an angel could have. Accompanying her on piano was musician extraordinaire, David Foster. Blue’s power evoked emotion so strong and instantaneous it brought tears to many an eye.
Pride Mountain Vineyards also welcomed Festival del Sole to help celebrate their 20th anniversary. Garry Danko was the star, adding to the special evening by preparing a five-course dinner. The Russian National Orchestra Camerata held a private audience as they played against the backdrop of century old ruins. Another musical serenade came just before the first entrée. In the distance atop Pride Rock a bagpipe wielding Scotsman set the tone for culinary delight. Guests included Margrit Mondavi, Pepper & Michael Jackson, Lisa & John Grotts, Pat & Ortwin Krueger, Peggy Rawls and Lynn Fritz.
Click here to see part II of this column and hear about the other fabulous events and attendees.
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All the best – Moanalani Jeffrey | Follow me on Twitter @/sfsocialitemj.