Picture the perfect week in wine country: farm-to-table restaurants, award-winning wine, art, music, and luxurious lodging. That may sound like any week in Napa—and it certainly could be—but there’s one event in particular that brings out the best of the valley: Festival del Sole.
Billed as a “celebration of the art of life,” Napa Valley Festival del Sole is a 10-day arts and culture extravaganza that showcases all things alluring about wine country. Last year’s event featured performances by renowned artists, vintner’s luncheons, wine tastings, exquisite patron dinners at stunning wineries such as Castello di Amorosa, and an after party at the Napa Valley Museum—but even that’s just scratching the surface.
“I’m most proud of the success of the Gala at Meadowood,” says Richard Walker, the director of Festival del Sole. “We raised nearly $1.5 million for arts education and the festival’s programming, more than triple compared with last year.”
In addition to fundraising, winery dinners, late-night parties, and fine performances, the festival features wellness events to keep guests centered and rejuvenated.
Yoga in the Vineyard
Moving meditations, such as yoga, have a special way of satisfying the soul. There’s the camaraderie of exercising in a group, the thrill of achieving a pose that was inaccessible just a month ago, and the pure endorphin rush of a good workout. This would be true in any strip mall yoga studio, but think of those same poses out in the sunshine surrounded by birds, grapevines, and beautiful scenery. How could you not want to be there?
Yoga in the Vineyard has become a transcendent tradition at Festival del Sole, offering participants a unique wellness experience. This year’s event was held at Harvest Inn in Saint Helena, California and was taught by esteemed yoga instructor Courtney Willis.
“One lesson I wanted people to walk away with was the value of exercise and fitness along with indulgence in beautiful wines and culinary treats,” says Willis. “We can easily find balance through yoga and a healthy lifestyle, even when we allow ourselves to partake in sweet and savory events!” For those who aren’t practicing yogis, have no fear: The classes are designed for all levels.
Wellness Conversations at Festival del Sole
There is a time to practice wellness, but there’s also a time to discuss it. There’s so much new information to help us care for our bodies. Sometimes it’s just wonderful to sit back and learn.
That was the inspiration behind a panel of wellness experts at the Bardessono Hotel located in Yountville, California. Cosmetic surgeon and vitamin expert Garo Kassabian, MD, FACS; author of “The SuperFoodsRx Diet,” Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD; and fitness expert Melina Jampolis, MD, explained how to incorporate wellness into our daily lives. These discussions encompassed cooking with healthy spices, including “super nutrients” in our daily diet, and the benefits of certain vitamins for stress reduction and recovery from surgery or illness.
“The pursuit of wellness is not toward a ‘one and single’ goal but evolves over time and includes nourishment, movement, self-care, spirituality, community, recreation, and rest,” says Dr. Bazilian. “My personal and professional philosophy is eat well; move daily; be healthy. It’s about an active pursuit and the positive choices we make each day toward that individual and shared goal.”
Following the wellness discussions, executive chef Victor Scargle gave an exclusive tour of the restaurant’s private garden. Green, gorgeous, and peaceful, Bardessono was the perfect setting for this year’s Wellness Conversations. “I loved the opportunity to speak about innovative treatments available for health and wellness in the breathtaking setting of Napa Valley,” says Dr. Kassabian.
“Health and balance are integral to the art of life; the Napa Valley Festival del Sole creed,” says Walker. “It’s a central principle and core belief of the festival. We feel it is beneficial to illuminate how, with wise choices, good health and enjoying life are complementary. Our presenters are recognized leaders who provide simple ways to help people live well.”
Napa offers many different lodging options during the festival. A favorite is the Napa Valley Lodge in the charming town of Yountville. “As a locally owned property, we take tremendous pride in offering genuine hospitality and providing a perfect setting to unwind,” said lodge president Greg Alden. Set in a cabernet sauvignon vineyard, the Tuscan-style lodge is just steps away from world-renowned restaurants, award-winning wine tasting rooms, and first-rate specialty shops. With their oversized rooms, pool, spa, bocce ball court, and gardens, it’s a lovely place to relax while waiting for your next Festival del Sole event. Although this year’s Festival has come and gone, mark your calendars next summer for the extraordinary 11th anniversary season, July 15-24, 2016.
By Jennifer Boden