From the start of their marriage in 1968, wine connoisseurs Garen and Shari Staglin had a dream to own a vineyard in Napa Valley, California, and make world-class wines. Following successful advances in each of their chosen careers, by 1985, the couple was able to buy a 62-acre ranch with 50 acres of vineyard space. Today, the Staglin Family Vineyard has become one of the best-known vineyards in all of Napa Valley.
As the vineyard prospered, the Staglins looked for a way to share their success with others through contributing to good works. Noting the need for research in mental health—the Staglins’ son Brandon was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 18—the family decided to create an annual fundraising event. Since 1995, Garen and Shari Staglin, accompanied by Brandon, now 34, and daughter Shannon, 27, have hosted the annual Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health through their nonprofit group, the Rutherford Charitable Organization, which raises money for mental health research.
Combining good wine and good food with good music, the Staglins’ festival—hosted on their very own Napa Valley property—entails a mid-day concert for 500 attendees. This year’s featured performer is Brian Wilson, founding member of The Beach Boys; previous years have included singer Roberta Flack, Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Norman Brown, musicians from the San Francisco Ballet and other noted artists. Following the concert, the evening continues with a gourmet dinner for 300 guests and a sampling of more than 30 wines from Napa Valley’s and Sonoma County’s best wineries. Each year, the dinner is prepared by a celebrity chef, crafted this year by Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques Restaurant in West Hollywood, the 2006 Beard Award for Best California Chef. Chef Greg Cole from Cole’s Chop House in Napa will provide pre-concert hors d’oeuvres.
The festival also hosts top scientists who talk about their research. Daniel Weinberger, MD, internationally renowned expert in the genetics of schizophrenia, kicks off this year’s gala with a lecture and discussion about physiological brain disorders. Weinberger is based at the National Institute of Mental Health and is a member of the Scientific Council of NARSAD: The Mental Health Research Association (formerly the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression).
Over the 12 years of the festival, the Staglins have raised over $30 million for mental health research. As Garen Staglin has noted, mental illness costs Americans $150 billion a year, but the country spends less than 100th of that amount researching causes and cures. Says Staglin, “Private philanthropy is vital if we are to continue to make progress.”
For more information about the Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health, visit