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BottleRock 2017: Good Times, Good Wine

In Culture, Music
A BARREL OF LAUGHS: Good wine and good times at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

A BARREL OF LAUGHS: Good wine and good times at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

Last weekend, the Napa Valley Expo hosted BottleRock, the most gastronomically gourmet music festival in California. With five stages of live acts, multiple “gardens” devoted to wine, beer and upscale food as well as three days of the most idyllic weather on the planet, BottleRock tacitly promises a level of indulgence that will soothe and stimulate away the unsatisfactoriness of daily life.

But different from behemoths like Outside Lands and Coachella, BottleRock isn’t flooded with an excess of peacocking exhibitionists, overly ambitious drug-doers or elbow-throwing superfans. Rather, the defining feature of BottleRock might be the age range of its relatively tame attendees.

There’s the typical festival flockers, but also parents dancing with newborns adorned with soundproof earmuffs, older retirees sipping wine and lounging in insta-inflatable “Dumbo Lounge Sacks” and a surprising amount of parents with their children, who, most of the time, did not seem mortally embarrassed.

CHILLIN': BottleRock 2017 was a laid-back good time. Photo by Jamie Soja.

CHILLIN': BottleRock 2017 was a laid-back good time. Photo by Jamie Soja.

BOTTLE BABES: These two were enjoying themselves at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

BOTTLE BABES: These two were enjoying themselves at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

Perhaps the funnest aspect was the Culinary Stage, which paired popular chefs with other celebrities. Ayesha Curry rapped alongside E-40. Warren G, after doing a cover of “Regulate” called “Marinate,” announced his favorite barbecue is short ribs. Martha Stewart cooked with the culinarily illiterate Macklemore and Ryan Lewis—making it akin to Keith Richards playing alongside third-chair, middle-school percussionists. And Iron Chef Morimoto broke down a 130-lb tuna, which future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson said would pair nicely with his winery’s 2008 Cabernet.

DOPE EATS: Martha Stewart kicked it with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

DOPE EATS: Martha Stewart kicked it with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

On the music end: Fitz and the Tantrums played tenderly sleazy electro-pop. Modest Mouse blasted awe-inspiring, ever-shifting walls of sound. Andra Day delivered woke and smoky soul. Michael Franti beamed with his trademark effortlessly aggressive optimism. House of Pain orchestrated some unathletic audience participation for “Jump Around.” Charles Bradley summoned the spirit of James Brown. The Roots dazzled with verbal and instrumental prowess. And the Foo Fighters rocked very, very hard.

But if all those outlandish general admission amenities weren’t enough, for $1200, attendees got access to the “Skydeck,” a raised, shaded lounge with an open bar and excellent views. After chatting with me on a break, a Skydeck employee asked me not to print her anecdotes about the behavior of VIP guests.

Which brings me to the quintessential moment of the weekend. On a gorgeous 70-degree evening in Napa Valley after a day of consuming gourmet food and drink while a gauntlet of world-class musicians played within earshot, I stood in line for coffee and the man in front of me turned around and complained about the admittedly long wait. BottleRock, like all festivals, will not quiet your inner infant grasping for more. But it’s a lovely way to spend a weekend.

GOOD BREW TOO: Don't forget about beer! There was plenty of that to go around at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

GOOD BREW TOO: Don’t forget about beer! There was plenty of that to go around at BottleRock 2017. Photo by Jamie Soja.

Check out the full photo gallery here.

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