The Agenda: This Summer in Wine Country

Celebrate a Milestone Anniversary at Robert Mondavi Winery

Wine Country as we know it today would not be what it is today without Robert Mondavi. Widely acknowledged for raising the quality and reputation of wines from the entire Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi and his wife Margrit were also pioneers in recognizing that wine is part of a welcoming lifestyle that includes delicious food, stirring music, eye-popping art and unpretentious wine education. Just three years after founding his own winery in 1966, the private dining room and modern-style tasting rooms were opened, and the first Summer Music Festival launched – all new concepts at the time for a winery. In 1976, the Mondavis introduced the Great Chefs program, the first winery culinary program in the U.S., whose guest chefs have included Julia Child, Paul Bocuse, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Jean and Pierre Troisgros and Joel Robuchon.

On July 16, celebrate the 50th anniversary of Robert Mondavi Winery at the iconic Cliff May-designed winery from 12 – 4 p.m. with a multitude of activities that pay tribute to the Mondavis’ influence such as cooking demos from local chefs, wine tastings and seminars, painting demos and live music. While there, make sure to taste the 50th anniversary commemorative wines Maestro, a unique red blend dedicated to Robert Mondavi, and Harvest of Joy, a very dry rose we just love.

The event is free to the public so plan to arrive early as general admission and parking is limited and first come first-served, as is entry to the cooking and wine seminars. Details on the website.

If you can’t make it on this day, there are special 50th anniversary events planned for the entire year including a new Library Wine Tasting ($55 pp) offered daily and the reservation only Five Decades Dinner ($350 pp) paired with wines from each of the last five decades. And commemorate nearly five decades of outdoor concerts this summer with featured artists American Authors, Blues Traveler, Ingrid Michaelson and O.A.R. The kick-off concert on July 2 will be followed by fireworks. Robert Mondavi Winery 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville.

Festival Napa Valley

Far Niente Winery patron dinner 2015. Photo by Paul E. Richardson

The can’t-miss event of the summer, the 11th annual Festival Napa Valley (July 15-24) is Wine Country’s signature 10-day arts festival offering an array of moving live performances by world class artists, enriched by beautiful Wine Country settings and delicious food and wine. This year’s highlights include a festival opening concert by Emmy- and Tony-award winning Kristin Chenowith at Castello di Amorossa, the festival debut of the San Francisco Ballet at Lincoln Theater and the always elegant festival tribute evening at Far Niente Winery, this year honoring Margrit Mondavi with an Italian banquet by Lidia Bastianich.

Kevin Spacey, Festival Gala 2015. Photo by Susana Bates

The star and host of this year’s alfresco festival gala Imaginarium at Meadowood Sunday, July 17 is Emmy-award winning and Grammy-nominated Wayne Brady. The versatile star of Broadway hit "Kinky Boots" and host of "Whose Line Is It Anyway" will bring his comedic and improvisational talents to the stage while Cirque du Soleil artists weave through the audience. The entertaining evening ends with the exciting auction which helps support arts programs for Napa County public schools. To date, Festival Napa Valley has raised more than $4 million to make the arts accessible to all.

Festival Gala 2015. Photo by Susana Bates

Festival Napa Valley offers free community concerts at Jarvis Conservatory, and special “under 40” and student rates for performances at Lincoln Theater. Regular Festival Napa Valley passes range from $45 pp to $10,000 pp. See the Festival Napa Valley website for details.

Hip Heritage at the New Durant & Booth Tasting Room

Photo by Wendi Green

Nearly 140 years after opening, Napa Valley’s most iconic gourmet grocers Oakville Grocery honors its founders Frederick Durant and Joseph Booth with the opening of Durant & Booth tasting room next door. The restored Victorian formerly owned by Frederick Durant has been re-imagined by architect Howard Backen with a two-story space and eclectic décor that Director of Operations David DiGenova calls “Hip Heritage”.

Gorgeous George by Wendi Green

Unique blends with unusual varietals set Durant & Booth wines apart. Explore them in an intimate, seated tasting of four wines, the Dandy tasting ($35 pp), or the longer Dapper tasting ($55 pp) of five small-production wines paired with small bites by Press Restaurant’s Trevor Kunk. Open daily 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 7856 St. Helena Highway, Oakville

Countdown to Trinchero Napa Valley’s New Tasting Room in Saint Helena

After nearly 70 years of winegrowing in the Napa Valley, the Trinchero family will open a new tasting room marking the final phase of a multi-year modernization begun in 2009. The new 5,000 square-foot building designed by BAR Architects is modern farmhouse in style with bold interiors by local designer Erin Martin.

Photo A. Hanami

The interiors will honor the family’s Italian and New York roots like the wall art above in the existing Hospitality Center also designed by Erin Martin, describing a Trinchero Baugna Cauda recipe that has been served during harvest for 60 years. After sitting down with the family, Martin gleaned “knots of history, sayings and dates that are all woven into the new tasting room” The new building has an open floor plan with soaring 22-foot-high ceilings showcased by decorative steel trusses and window sashes reminiscent of old European train stations. The décor promises to be rich and luxurious with tufted leather and brass furnishings with stunning lighting that are Martin signatures. The Trinchero Napa Valley tasting room is expected to open in late June. 3070 N St. Helena Highway, Saint Helena

Summer Dinners in the Vineyards at Seghesio

Photo courtesy Seghesio Family Vineyards

Summer is the season for alfresco winemaker dinners celebrating the season’s sweetest ingredients. Seghesio, one of the country’s most iconic old-vine Zinfandel producers, will offer its leisurely Summer Dinner Series ($175 pp) on July 9 and August 6 at the home ranch in Cloverdale.

Photo courtesy Seghesio Family Vineyards

For a more convenient taste of Seghesio in the heart of Healdsburg, partake in Chef’s Table ($75 pp), a daytime winery tour and wine and food pairing excursion every Friday-Sunday. 700 Grove Street, Healdsburg

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