"We have a less-is-more mentality when entertaining. For example, we use beautiful white table linens and attractive lighting, chosen for their simplicity and subtlety." —Jessica Hague, Darioush
Darioush, located in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, has hosted special vintners' dinners many times. And at each one, the goal is the same: for guests to enjoy a warm, intimate gathering.
Last year, Darioush welcomed 24 guests at its Vintner-Hosted Dinner on the eve of Auction Napa Valley. The hosts poured some of their most sought-after wines and served up a four-course dinner inspired by southern Italian cuisine. "We want guests to feel at ease ... and feel the warmth of that welcome," says Jessica Hague, vice president of retail sales and marketing.
Most events at Darioush feature live music, and special touches often include beautifully bound menus and keepsake items, such as estate olive oil. "We have a less-is-more mentality when entertaining," Hague says. "For example, we use beautiful white table linens and attractive lighting, chosen for their simplicity and subtlety. At the same time, we like our events to have a sense of drama, and our setting naturally provides that."
Marciano Estate's distinct sense of place is integral to the events hosted at the historic winery on the western edge of St. Helena. That distinctiveness is due in no small part to the aesthetic vision of Maurice Marciano, the proprietor of the estate and co-founder of the Guess apparel brand.
For most occasions at Marciano, guests are seated at one long table "so that everyone gets involved in the conversation," says Andrew Shaheen, director of sales and marketing. Attention is paid to every detail, from the selection of flowers to the sometimes surprising choice of live entertainment.
Last year, guests at a dinner hosted as part of Auction Napa Valley were treated to an unexpected performance by the Aqualillies synchronized swimming group in the estate's pool. "Fun is a central component of everything we do," Shaheen notes.
"Fun is a central component of everything we do." —Andrew Shaheen, Marciano Estate
"My approach is to make people feel comfortable, and one way I do that is by serving meals family-style. It helps create interaction and camaraderie." —Janice Mondavi, Aloft Wine
Not surprisingly, given their roots in Napa Valley, Janice and Marc Mondavi of Aloft Wine try to make guests feel immediately at home at their Howell Mountain vineyard. "My approach is to make people feel comfortable, and one way I do that is by serving meals family style," Janice says. "It helps create interaction and camaraderie."
At her larger events, Janice likes to have a mix of tables of different sizes, and she places different but harmonious floral arrangements on each one. Of course, the third-generation Mondavis make wine the central focus when they entertain, along with a complementary menu that is often based on tried-and-true family recipes.
At the end of her dinner parties, Janice likes to present guests with a unique memento. "One special gift of ours is a bottle opener made from 1940s barrel staves," she says. "People enjoy learning about our family's winemaking history, and this is one way we can share it with them."
Food meet wine: what to serve alongside your favorite Napa Valley wine.
Sauvignon Blanc begs to be enjoyed in the summer time. Explore the latest offerings from the vintners of Napa Valley here.
Find wine and food pairings, live music, winemaker dinners, blending seminars, wine education activities and more.
Discover restaurants and wine retailers recognized for their Napa Valley wine selections.