Napa, Calif. – What do you get when you cross 5 musical stages, 75+ food vendors, wineries, breweries and spirits stands? BottleRock Napa Valley. The perfect festival for Napa, as the farm to table restaurants, local wineries, breweries and spirits companies paired their very best weekend flavors with live music from 11am-10pm for three days right before Memorial Day.
If you haven’t been to BottleRock, you need to check it out. It’s like walking into an amusement park. There are tens of thousands of people laughing, eating, drinking and walking from stage to stage or sitting down at one of the many picnic tables the venue has put together for the fans. The musical genres are wide, and vary from classic rock, country, folk, hip-hop, rap, modern rock, new age, techno and more.
The music this year was top notch from the gates opening on Friday afternoon with The Band High Noon until the final note on Sunday evening from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Some of the most watched sets included Carly Rae Jepsen, Cheryl Crowe, Duran Duran, Leon Bridges, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Post Malone, The National, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Struts, the Wu Tang Clan, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Trying to catch all of any set came with a price to miss someone else whom you may have wanted to see, but the festival grounds are planned out well so you don’t have to miss much if you want to bounce between stage to stage.
For many BottleRock is about trying new things and exploring, something we could all do more of! This is the perfect treat to try something new in terms of food, drinks and music. Wehter you got their early and listened to some new bands, or wondered around and looked at the art or tried food the festival was a great mixing pot for the weekend. BottleRock really encapsulates this vibe and years back they really put it all together on stage with the William Sonoma stage.
This year they didn’t hold back with fun mashups between local celebrities, top chefs, rock stars and more. Some of the notable combos included chef Aaron May with former Oakland Raiders’ Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, and Bay Area native and Olympic Gold Medalist Johnny Moseley. Or there was chef Michael Mina who teamed up with Adam Sobel, Tre Cool from Green Day, former Oakland Athletics Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson with the WWE’s The Miz and Maryse. Two of biggest crowds came out for the legendary food truck creator Roy Choi with Dogstar, which is Keanu Reeves’ band as they made Korean style burritos. Dogstar also made their first live appearance together over the weekend. The other largest crowd was for the renowned family chefs Voltaggio Brothers with RZA and Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan and Warren G as they celebrated 30 years of Wu Tang, 29 years of Regulators and 50 years of hip hop while making 20 dishes for the trio of acclaimed rappers.
But the fun was to be had everywhere, not just on the William Sonoma Stage. The Culinary Garden showed off local eats from some of Napa’s best including Cole’s Chop House, Compline, Imagination on Fire, Mustards, Napa Yard, Nash and Proper and many more. The food touched on every level, the best thing I had over the weekend was the tacos from Napa Yard. Chef Daniel put together mouth watering Al Pastor and delicious Adobo Mushroom tacos. “We actually used almost three days of food the first day it was great,” said Chef Daniel. “We went back after the first day and stocked back up for the weekend.” The team at Napa Yard was true to their word and made sure the line was moving. “We wanted people to get their food and go watch music, you don’t want to spend your time in line,” said Chef Daniel.
Standing in line can be a pain, but sometimes pulls you in another direction that you were expecting. Like the line for the “Porta Party” by MonkeyShoulder. The party was a speakeasy, with it’s own DJ and special crafted cocktails which could only be found behind the secret entrance near the Allianz Stage. Another cocktail area that created a line was the three story bar from Hendrick’s Gin. Mattias Horseman of Hendrick’s Gin was pleased with the crowd over the weekend. “The Hendrick’s three-story bar is the perfect interlude for BottleRock Napa Valley,” said Horseman. “You go from music to music, and sometimes you need a break – why not with a perfect cocktail for the perfect event.” By the looks of the crowds, and constant flow of drinks I think he was spot on.
For the sweet tooth festival goer there were plenty of options of sweet treats to satisfy those tastebuds. With “Sweet Street” set up near the Verizon stage, lots of people got a taste of what local goodies were being cooked up in Napa. The raspberry and lemonade sorbet from It’s Always Sunny Sorbet were perfect to cool down after being inside a huge crowd for Smashing Pumpkins, and the all-natural energy drinks, cookies and cookie dough from Brewed Napa were a nice treat to get you back up to full power before the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on. “This was a great location, we sold out of the cookie dough so quick,” said Lisa Saunders from Brewed Napa. “I’m already thinking about what we can do for next year!”
The festival really stepped up on their sustainability efforts this year as well eliminating all single use plastic bottles on site again and providing water stations throughout the festival to fill up your reusable bottles. All of the recycling efforts from the corks of the wine, to cans of beer and water was evident with clean up stations seemingly every 100ft throughout the festival. Compostable food and beverage ware was BPI certified, and they brought back the reusable wine glass program – which also gave you a chance to take home a little memento from the weekend in a BottleRock Napa Valley branded plastic wine glass.
BottleRock once again staged the entry to summer and kick off for the festival season. The musical acts had crowds bigger than we have seen the past few years due to covid, and they fed on the fans being there, bringing lots of energy and memorable moments for those who ventured into the Napa Valley Expo fairgrounds for the Memorial Day weekend. The food filled the air over the weekend, and it was tremendous, lots of new additions, and some classic favorites as well. The drinks were flowing in terms of adult beverages and non-alcoholic refreshers!
Next year plans to be just as fun as this, and tickets are available now! The festival always sells out so don’t delay on getting your 3-day weekend passes so you won’t miss any of the action! You can go online and purchase your tickets from the festivals website – a general admission ticket is all you need to have a fantastic weekend, but the VIP options from the SKYDECK, Platinum by Salesforce, and the Suites give a whole new extremely luxurious festival experience to those who have been to BottleRock before or those who want to make sure their first time is as comfortable and high end as possible. https://www.bottlerocknapavalley.com/tickets/