May 27-29 , 2016
By: Walter Morgan
The 4th annual BottleRock Festival at the Napa Expo Center, in the heart of Napa Valley, was held Friday May 27 through Sunday May 29 and sold out well in advance. The First Taste Of Summer, Music, Food, Wine And Brew is their slogan, but is so much more. I’ve been multiple festivals in the US and all over Europe, and my belief that this is one of the best organized very enjoyable experience for multiple age groups. When entering, you were given a wristband as your ticket, and according to the amount paid, it could be scanned at many different entrances for VIP tents or special seating, or groups. For VIP, your bracelet was scanned and if it turned green you were approved to enter, and if not it would turn red, and would be turned away from the VIP area. How cool is that? Upon entering they provided a mini program on the festival’s offerings; a map, schedule of events, places, etc; the program was very useful and extremely helpful.
I wasn’t expecting such a large festival, with 78 bands listed to play, and I heard about 120,000 estimated people were in attendance, and in such a picturesque setting! The venue boasts one huge main stage, Jam Cellars stage, another big stage, the Midway Stage, and two smaller stages for music.
Royal Jelly Jive
A good sized Williams-Sonoma Culinary stage for cooking, featuring star chefs paired with musicians, entertainers, and celebrities for culinary infused antic’s and food demonstrations. Some of the stars who took part were: Masterchef Gordon Ramsay (Hell’s Kitchen), Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Food Networks Tyler Florence, Cheech & Chong, Chad Smith( RHCP), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), Tre Cool & Mike Dirnt (Green Day), Robin Quivers (Howard Stern show), Dwight Clark (49ers), Charles Woodson (Raiders), Vida Blue (A’s), Vernon Davis (Redskins), Mark Sanchez( Broncos), and some others. For the foodies in the house, it was pure heaven and there so many booths to choose from. BottleRock featured many local Bay Area restaurants, with all super high quality gourmet meals and appetizers. I can perhaps only name a few; Mustards, Iron Chef, Smoke, Eureka! Burger, Bling Bling Dumpling, India Gourmet, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Farmer Brown, and Gerard’s Paella. Almost every variety of food imaginable was available or featured; pizza, barbecue, burgers, paella, Indian food, sushi, ice cream, fried chicken, vegetarian, salads, sandwiches, etc. One section of the festival was just for gourmet food trucks, and judging by the lines of people waiting, they were obviously a huge hit.
Death Cab For Cutie
The food here was incredible in itself, along with mind blowing variety; I had a dinner each night from a different booth. Eureka! Burger, Indian Gourmet, and Gerard’s Paella, and I was delighted by the wide amount of choices, and how tasty the food was.
Walk The Moon
Paired with the variety of food was the region’s fine wine selection with small themed tents for tasting and purchase. Included were Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Starmont Winery, Sterling Vineyards, and Menage A Trois, to name a few. Not to be out done by the quality wine selection was the Craft Beer Gardens, featuring 32 different local microbrewed drafts.
Not surprisingly, the beer lines were very long. Lagunitas sponsored a small stage and beer garden. Jamba Juice, Boudin Bakery, Peet’s Coffee, and many other local companies had hot and cold non alcoholic drink choices. Camelbak sponsored many water stations that filled your plastic water bottle or containers for free. With temperatures in the 90’s all weekend long, it was a very nice touch, as well as having a few booths that had convenience items such as sunscreen, lip balm, Rolaids, aspirin, and candy. The festival had a big medical tent, and Rock Med volunteers constantly roaming the event for people in need, also merchandise booths, and a recharge tent for phones.
Another fun and unusual activity, was the Silent Disco, where you were given a set of headphones for 3 different DJs playing music, rave, dance club, or disco music, which was changeable on your headset. It was color code selected, red, green and blue, each DJ had his own color, and if you were with a partner you could dance to the same channel as only you heard the music through your own headphone set; a unique experience watching people dance and drink in total silence.
Another well thought of feature was the main Culinary Garden, a dining area with umbrellas and green astro turf used as flooring ,which was a very welcome sight and a relatively clean place to dine.
There was a family zone, with games, jam sessions, fun hairdos; fun for younger kids and parents. Nordstrom’s had a photo opt/ interactive booth, where you could enter and freshen up with huge mirrors, and take a cool selfie.
I also liked that BottleRock had their own innovative downloadable app, in order to stay up to the minute with news, band set times, build your schedule, get your music suggestions, a map of the event, find your friends, and more.
All in all, I had a fantastic time, it was multi generational; the music and activities for all ages, and so much more than I ever expected; with something for everyone, music, wine, beer, food, drink, activities, or art, it really rocked! Also, parking was relatively easy, brilliant!
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Another cool BottleRock slogan, that really said it all, “Explore….Make the most out of your experience”, and for 3 days I did just that. Impressive to say the least, I can’t wait for next year!
Red Hot Chili Peppers