Napa is the subtle home to the finer things in life. Where the golden hills are covered with the streams of green vines that keep this region as a prominent force in wine and culinary industry. So when Napa decides to put its hand in the ever popular music festival scene you would think the California sun would shine so favorably on it. In its inaugural year 2013, BottleRock buzzed into the scene and put on a great production to the delights of the festival goers. Headliner quality bands came out and aided the first ever Napa music festival experience. All was well from the stand point of the festively but success quickly became overshadowed by the woes of the failures of money management. Without getting into the dirty details (which would be a quick google search away) new festival management had quite the task in bringing the experience back to the same level that Napa is known for. Because as we all know, the show must go on.
The downsized BottleRock 2014 maintained the reputation Napa has come to be. The wine and food took center stage as the lackluster lineup had only a few moments of glory. With said six weeks of planning until tickets went on sale, new festival management scrambled to get the acts that they could. The Cure and Outkast were their prized acts and did fortunately live up to their headliner reputation. They were the bright spots heralded over the other oddly booked ‘90s mash up of artists. Though Smash Mouth, Barenaked Ladies, and Third Eye Blind induced ironically fun wine aided sing-a-longs; the lineup had a hard time coming close to what relevant music festivals offer. With all of that said there was a silver lining to BottleRock. Where the music lacked the expected grandeur, Napa took the spotlight.
The showcasing of local food and wine drove the experience and blanketed the festival with a warm sense of community. Prized Napa winery tents lined the entire grounds of all the stages. They were eager to engage and enjoy the common love for good wine. The Layer Cake tent became a favorite of mine for the lively and comfortable vibe they catered. The couches were full of folks enjoying their friends with full glasses and with the festival humming in the background. That equation never lends for a bad time and I was happy to be a part of it.
As the traditional pairing goes, there was plenty of exceptional food options to go along with the beer and wine. Never before at a music festival have I seen the amount of people eating that were at BottleRock. Food, interesting options at that, was simply everywhere.
The centerpiece connecting all of the stages were most of the food tents featuring local restaurants. Each serving fine foods without skipping out on the culinary details. The pulled pork sandwich at The Thomas & Fagiani’s Bar came sprinkled with cotija cheese and a roasted pepper to garnish. That’s right, only the finest here in Napa.
The beloved food truck scene was parked right outside the main food court giving people more options to pair with the wine and beer. A San Francisco favorite, Bacon Bacon, reminded us why we love bacon so much. The chocolate covered bacon strip didn’t last long enough to be captured by photograph.
So all and all Napa and the finer things it represents was the focal point of BottleRock 2014. Amongst the strenuous start new organizers faced people showed up for a pleasant weekend in the sun, filled with great wine, food and friends. Oh, and also Outkast. Napa held BottleRock together in its second go around. In this case third time should be the charm to put it all together for BottleRock 2015.