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INTERVIEW: Robert Mondavi Winery's Kathy Magner On The Virtual Summer Sundays Series

Nicole Barylski

Robert Mondavi Winery is hosting a virtual concert series. (Courtesy Photo)

More than 50 years ago, Margrit Mondavi established The Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series to bring exceptional arts experiences to Napa Valley. Typically the beloved happening encompasses spectacular performances, amazing culinary vendors, terrific cuisine, and sensational sips, however, this year Robert Mondavi Winery is hosting a new incarnation of the series, Summer Sundays, that fans nationwide can tune into.

We spoke with Kathy Magner, Robert Mondavi Winery Hospitality Manager, about the summer series, its mission of giving back, upcoming headliners and more.

Tell us about the genesis of Summer Sundays.

The Head and The Heart are headlining the August 16th show. (Courtesy Photo)

KM: What began as a way for Margrit Mondavi (Robert Mondavi's late wife) to bring her passion for the arts to Napa Valley became an annual tradition that brought together stellar performers, local culinary vendors and Napa Valley wines to unite the local community for a fun way to give back. In 2019, Robert Mondavi Winery celebrated the 50th anniversary of its annual non-profit Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series. Due to ongoing efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 and protect its visitors and employees, the winery has not mounted the Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series in 2020 as it has in the past. Instead, the winery enlisted Bay Area TV and radio host Liam Mayclem to host Summer Sundays, a bi-weekly virtual event on the winery's social media channels featuring well-known friends of the winery from the wine, food, music and performing arts communities.

Who will the series welcome?

KM: To date, the series has welcomed musician and composer Marcus Shelby, singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson and look forward to welcoming The Head and The Heart to our winery for the August 16th show. Michael Franti will perform on August 30th and the Lines Ballet are set for September 13th.

To enhance the Summer Sundays experience, Robert Mondavi Winery is offering a ready-made concert kit. What does the kit entail? 

KM: For each bi-weekly event, the Robert Mondavi Winery team creates a different, ready-made kit with featured wines. The winery team pairs each wine with the key elements of each event. For example, Maestro was chosen for the inaugural event on July 5 with Marcus Shelby because both the wine and Marcus' music hearkened back to the heart of the Margrit Mondavi Summer Concert Series. Jazz music was the first genre performed during the early concerts because Margrit had a passion for it and Maestro was named after Mr. Mondavi, as it was his nickname because he "conducted" everything in harmony at the winery. The Spotlight Rosé was the focus wine for Matt Nathanson's performance two weeks ago because it was the height of summer and everyone loves a cold glass of rosé it's one of the most-sold wines during the in-person concerts each year. For the lobster roll event in June, the team chose Robert Mondavi Winery's I-Block because it pairs beautifully with lobster, and the new vintage had just been released. This week's ready-made kit will feature Robert Mondavi Winery Carneros Pinot Noir offerings.

Liam Mayclem is hosting the series. (Courtesy Photo)

The winery is donating $10,000 to Napa Valley Unified School District's music programs, and each virtual event will raise additional funds for a related charity. Why was it important to include a philanthropic aspect and what other charities will the series support?

KM: Giving back to the community was always a key factor to the Summer Concert Series. Robert Mondavi was a pioneer of the Valley, but also was a proud resident who, along with Margrit, felt it incumbent on himself to strengthen the community of which he was part. This year, each performer has chosen which charity they would like to raise funds for in addition to the $10,000 to the Napa Valley Unified School District's music programs. Additional charities donated to throughout the program are below, along with each corresponding performer:

- LoveLife Foundation - Marcus Shelby
- The Sidewalk Project - Matt Nathanson
- The Rivers and Roads Foundation - The Head and the Heart
- (Upcoming) Do It For the Love Foundation- Michael Franti

Is there anything else you would like to add?

KM: Each Summer Sunday event is available to watch on the winery's website at www.robertmondaviwinery.com/summer-sundays or on its Youtube page here. Robert Mondavi Winery wine and the weekly kit is available on the website here: www.robertmondaviwinery.com/summer-sundays-wines.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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