Music and Merlot: A Preview of the Wine World’s Summer Concert Series

By Bob Johnson

Whether you prefer red, white, blush or bubbly… and whether you listen to rock, jazz, blues or country… two of the great joys of life are wine and music.

And when you can find a way to combine the two, well, that’s about as good as it gets.

Fortunately, the proprietors of a number of wineries understand this, and bring in talented musicians so that we can enjoy some songs with our Syrah… some tunes with our Tempranillo… some Albariño with our a cappella.

Some of the larger wineries, such as Chateau Ste. Michelle near Seattle and Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley, host national touring acts. The Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif., while still producing wine, is actually better defined as a concert venue — and an excellent one. Smaller wineries, with smaller budgets, typically bring in local bands or esteemed singer-songwriters. Regardless of the performers’ fame, the music just seems to sound better when you have a glass of your favorite wine in hand.

The big news on the wine-and-music scene this year is the opening of a new concert venue at the Vina Robles estate in Paso Robles, Calif. Tickets for the amphitheater’s debut season went on sale last week.

All across the country, wineries are gearing up for their summer seasons. At some, you can simply drop in, sit down and soak in the sounds. At others, tickets are required, and often sell out far in advance.

To help you plan a memorable wine-and-music experience, we’ve put together a handy, dandy guide to some of the wineries that host concerts during the summer months (and, in some cases, beyond). Check in on the winery websites (we’ve included links) every so often for updates.

Meanwhile, check out the seven tunes we’ve just added to our “Wine Songs” library — all featuring musicians who will be performing at wineries in the coming months.

ADAMS COUNTY WINERY, Orrtanna, Pennsylvania

ARBOR CREST WINE CELLARS, Spokane, Washington

BERNHARDT WINERY, Plantersville, Texas

BOORDY VINEYARDS, Hydes, Maryland

B.R. COHN WINERY & OLIVE OIL COMPANY, Glen Ellen, California
Bruce Cohn is the long-time manager of the Doobie Brothers, and the Doobies have become an important part of the B.R. Cohn Charity Events Fall Music Festival at B.R. Cohn Winery. The 2013 edition is set for September 20-23. “Mamaloi” is from the Doobies’ second album, “Toulouse Street,” and demonstrates that a talented rock band also can perform reggae-style. Preview it here.

CASTORO CELLARS, Templeton, California
On May 25, 2013, David Olney, who has been called “the Leonard Cohen of the Americana movement,” will be appearing with Anne McCue as part of the SLO (San Luis Obispo) Folks concert series. “Jerusalem Tomorrow” is from Olney’s album, “The Stone.” Preview it here.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE, Woodinville, Washington

ELK CREEK VINEYARDS, Owenton, Kentucky

HELWIG WINERY, Plymouth, California
Lee Rocker’s name appears not only on Stray Cats albums, but also on bottles of wine. Specifically: Rockabilly Red (http://www.artistwine.com/rocker.html), a 100% Syrah from the Napa Valley. Rocker will kick off Helwig’s 2013 Summer Concert Series on June 22. “Lost Highway” is from Rocker’s “Black Cat Bone” album. Preview it here.

ICICLE RIDGE WINERY, Peshastin, Washington

IRONSTONE VINEYARDS, Murphys, California

MARYHILL WINERY, Goldendale, Washington

McCONNELL ESTATES WINERY, Elk Grove, California
On October 5, a band called Renegade will cover many of the songs of Styx to conclude McConnell’s 2013 Summer Concerts Series. “Light Up” kicks off the fifth album by Styx, called “Equinox.” Preview it here.

MT. VERNON WINERY, Auburn, California

MUSIC IN THE VINEYARDS, Multiple Locations in Napa Valley, California

NISSLEY VINEYARDS & WINERY ESTATE, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania

PONTCHARTRAIN VINEYARDS, Bush, Louisiana

ROBERT MONDAVI WINERY, Oakville, California

RODNEY STRONG VINEYARDS, Healdsburg, California

SHELTON VINEYARDS, Dobson, North Carolina

SMITH-BERRY VINEYARD & WINERY, New Castle, Kentucky
A highlight of Smith-Berry’s 2013 Dinner and Concert Series will be the 11th anniversary party on August 24, featuring the music of Jimmy Buffett as performed by the Lunar Beach House Band. “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” is the title track from Buffett’s breakthrough 1977 album, which featured the mega-hit, “Margaritaville.” Preview “Changes in Latitudes…” here.

SWIFTWATER CELLARS, Cle Elum, Washington

TARARA WINERY, Leesburg, Virginia

THE MOUNTAIN WINERY, Saratoga, California

THORNTON WINERY, Temecula, California

TINHORN CREEK VINEYARDS, Oliver, British Columbia, Canada
On September 7, Juno Award-winning Canadian band Blackie & the Rodeo Kings will close out the 2013 concert series at Tinhorn Creek. “Lock All the Doors” is from the group’s 2007 album, “Bark.” Preview it here.

TWISTED OAK, Vallecito, California

TWIN BROOK WINERY, Gap, Pennsylvania

VARTANYAN ESTATE WINERY, Bellingham, Washington

VINA ROBLES, Paso Robles, California

WENTE VINEYARDS, Livermore, California

WILSON CREEK WINERY & VINEYARDS, Temecula, California

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One Response to Music and Merlot: A Preview of the Wine World’s Summer Concert Series

  1. Mary Jo Carmody says:

    Bob,

    You’ve once again piqued my interest!!! I had no idea how many wineries throughout the States pair as you so beautifully said : ” Music and Merlot”.

    I’ll ENJOY listening to the: ” seven tunes you’ve recently added to your’ Wine Songs’ Library”. Until reading this amazing list of Winery & Vineyards, I had no idea what a large list of places exist for us to visit !!!

    Thank you for your most thorough research.

    MAry Jo

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