My Cause

Bringing Havana to Napa

By Julissa James

Gorretti Lo Lui and Lawrence Lui by Olivia Wise.

Festival Napa Valley has become a mainstay on the City’s social circuit, and for good reason: Guests can enjoy gourmet food and wine while being serenaded by A-list artists (this year, Seal and Patti LuPone) across idyllic locales. Proceeds from the festivities help support arts education in the region. Since 2016, Gorretti Lo Lui and Lawrence Lui have been two of the haute event’s most philanthropic attendees. But this time, the couple took things a step further by underwriting the Havana Chamber Orchestra performance at Far Niente on July 13. It’s their way of propelling a mission they believe in, not to mention bringing talented international artists to the wine country.

The cause: With 10 days of world-class art, performances and, yes, wine, Festival Napa Valley is able to bring a higher level of enrichment to public schools across Napa County year-round.

Budget: $7.5 million

Founders: Rick Walker, whom Lawrence considers a good friend, along with many of the festival’s board members. “Their leadership and hospitality inspired me [to get involved],” says the well-connected hotelier.

Inspiration: One reason the two chose to support this particular concert? A culture crush on Cuba. “It’s a very mysterious place for a lot of people,” Gorretti observes. “There’s so much beautiful architecture, people love dancing and they’re so carefree. I think they’re not as stressed as San Franciscans.” To which Lawrence adds, “I saw the Havana Chamber Orchestra perform at Far Niente two seasons ago and absolutely loved it. I think it was my favorite performance that year, and I just knew we had to bring them back again.”

Impact: The festival has invested $1 million into Napa County public schools for arts education.

Get involved: This isn’t the last you’ll see of the Luis. “In the future, I hope to not just bring the Cuban orchestra, but musicians from the Philippines, China or any [other] parts of the world,” Gorretti vows.

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