Hosting Tips

An End-of-Summer Family Feast

By Chanel Dror

There’s an unexpected calmness that creeps in this time of year, don’t you think? With the novelty of summer worn off and most of our travels a thing of the past, we’re now channeling our focus back to routine and ritual, and those big summer blowouts are being swapped out for intimate dinners that allow us to catch up with loved ones. If you ask me, it’s a welcome change of pace. So to kick off this gradual transition into a slower season, we partnered with Francis Ford Coppola Winery to host a picturesque end-of-summer dinner. Inspired by the rich flavors of their Votre Santé line of wines, we invited guests to join us at Olive & June for a dreamy evening of fresh handmade pasta, close friends and family, and of course, lots of wine. Click through for all the details, photographed by Kate LeSueur.

For this dinner, we were inspired by the gorgeous landscape and laid back vibe that Wine Country is so famous for, using lots of olive branches, rosemary, and natural colors and textures.

Have a set of napkins that you repeatedly use? Give them a new look by trying a different fold! This set from West Elm is one of our all time favorites, and they’ve made countless tabletop appearances in both photo shoots and real life parties. So to mix things up, we folded them diagonally, changing the direction of the pattern and creating an unexpected point at the bottom of each place setting.

We then topped each napkin with a printed menu card, and alternated between sprigs of rosemary and olive branches for a touch of greenery.

On the menu: A cheese & meat platter, a variety of crostini, two different pastas and some extra special desserts. And of course, the wine was flowing from beginning to end.

Remember to ice down a bottle of white wine in advance so that it’s perfectly chilled and ready for serving as soon as guests arrive. And who needs a fancy ice bucket when you can use a simple galvanized metal pail?


To make these do-it-yourself centerpieces, simply bunch tall olive branches into mason jars of different sizes, and adjust the arrangement until perfect. Then wrap a square piece of burlap around the jar, and tie securely in place with a long piece of twine. Fill each jar with water until about 1/3 full, and arrange in clusters down the center of the table.

Wondering how much wine you’ll need for your next dinner party? Remember that each bottle contains about 4 glasses, and the general rule of thumb is to plan for 1 drink per hour, per guest. Of course, when in doubt, having too much is always better than not enough!

While guests were still arriving, we kicked things off with the lightest of the three wines: the Votre Santé Chardonnay.

The aroma of sweet peaches and Meyer lemons make this wine light and zesty, while the flavors of berries and sandalwood make it elegant and sweet.

In the spirit of family and summer, this was one dinner party where kids were more than welcome. There’s no better way to develop their young palates than by exposing them to new flavors and herbs… plus, italian food is a cuisine that everyone can agree upon!

Make a toast, “A votre Santé!” (or “To your health!” in English). 

A family tradition: Votre Sante wines pay tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s  grandmother, who began a family tradition of toasting “A votre Santé!,” each time she raised a glass.

Is there any better way to start a meal? The friendly team at Olive & June helped us put together this gorgeous cheese and meat platter. We arranged it all on a rustic wooden board, then garnished with olive and rosemary sprigs and served with this set of gold cheese knives.

The entire board was set at the center of the table where guests could help themselves.

It just doesn’t get much better than good food, great wine and family.

Up next was a selection of three different crostini:

– Summer squash, saffron ricotta and pickled red onion

– Gulf oyster, green chickpea and radish

– Rabbit salami and pistachio salsa verda

Moving on to a slightly more intense wine, we opened a bottle of the Votre Santé Pinot Noir. Light, fruity and fresh, it was the perfect pairing for our end-of-summer menu.

The first of our two pastas was this incredible saffron ricotta ravioli with lemon, pistachio, pecorino romano and a raw squash summer salad. Or in other words: heaven on a plate.

To keep with our family-style vibe, we piled the pasta high in large serving dishes that guests could easily pass around the table.

Pictured here: Camille wears a Chambray Maxi Dress from Anthropologie.

For a final wine option, we poured up glasses of this Votre Santé Chateau Red. Offering a medium-body, smokey and leathery notes, plus the juicy fruit flavors of black cherries and currants, this was the perfect red wine to round out the meal.

And since one pasta dish is never enough, we served this amazing Linguine with Neck Clams, Sweet Corn and Oyster Mushroom Sott’olio.

Click here to get the recipe for this Linguine with Little Neck Clams, Sweet Corn & Oyster Mushroom Sott’olio


Always be prepared by keeping extra bottles of wine on hand, and be sure to monitor each guest’s glass and offer refills throughout the meal.

Sweet Asher patiently awaiting the arrival of dessert…

And voilá! The Strawberry Mousse didn’t disappoint. We each grabbed a dessert spoon and dug in to the vanilla pasticcino, macerated strawberries, basil crumble and strawberry basil sorbet.

Click here to see more of Kate’s photography.