7 San Francisco summer music festivals for wine and beer lovers

From BottleRock Napa Valley to the Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, with a summer of fun music, wine and food in between, here is your guide to best Northern California festivals.

BottleRock Napa Valley. Jam Cellars Stage. Image: Greg Miller.

NAPA, CA, February 12, 2017 – Nothing seems to go together better than live music and adult beverages. They take the edge off from your week and help you settle in for a rockin’ evening of wine swirling and hip wiggling to your favorite tunes.

There is no shortage of fabulous concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area, but there some that rise to the top when it comes to wine, beer, and culinary selections.

BottleRock Napa Valley 2015 – Imagine Dragons. Image: Greg Miller

BottleRock Napa Valley

May 26 – 28, 2016, Memorial Day Weekend

BottleRock keeps getting better year after year. The fifth installment of this festival touts a musical line-up to impress, featuring: Foo Fighters, Maroon 5, Tom Petty, Modest Mouse, Michael Franti, Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis, Ben Harper, The Roots, Mavis Staples and 70 other artists! When you put a music festival adjacent to downtown Napa, there are some pretty high expectations for the wine being served (as there should be). The VIP 3-day experience is absolutely worth the investment. Last year BottleRock created a VIP only pass-thru between the two main stages, making traveling from the Main Stage to the Jam Cellars Stage. Add in the fact that there is more shade in VIP, more seats, more food and a special tented area where artists perform pop-up shows of the greatest intimacy.

The VIP 3-day experience is absolutely worth the investment. Last year BottleRock created a VIP only pass-thru between the two main stages, making traveling from the Main Stage to the Jam Cellars Stage. Add in the fact that there is more shade in VIP, more seats, more food and a special tented area where artists perform pop-up shows of the greatest intimacy.

In addition to the killer music lineup you won’t want to miss your chance to sample wine, beer, and food from a list of vendors that rivals the musical lineup. Try wines from: Miner Family, Chandon, Blackbird, Etude, Silver Oak, and Chappellet. As with the wine, there are equally high expectations for the food, and once again the festival does not disappoint. Look for tasty morsels from legendary Napa restaurants: Oenotri, Morimoto, Redd, Goose & Gander, Miminashi, Angéle, 1313 Main, Bouchon Bakery, and La Toque. If you’re the type of person that really just likes a cold beer while at an outdoor festival, you’re in luck as a brand new craft beer lineup is at BottleRock this year.

The lineup includes many SF Bay Area breweries pouring their ales, lagers and stouts to whet your palate, including: Lagunitas (Petaluma CA), Napa Palisades Beer Company (Napa CA), Heretic Brewing Company (Fairfield CA), 21st Amendment (San Francisco CA), Berryessa Brewing Company (Napa Valley CA), Sonoma Springs Brewing Co. (Sonoma CA), Fort Point Beer Company (San Francisco CA) and North Coast Brewing Company (Ft. Bragg CA).

Festival Napa Valley: Opening Night with Kristen Chenoweth at Castello di Amorosa. Image: Paul E. Richardson.

Festival Napa Valley (formerly Festival del Sole)

July 14-23, throughout Napa Valley

Festival Napa Valley is a ten-day celebration of art, music, dance, theater, wellness, cuisine and, of course, wine. This twelfth annual festival is truly a celebration of life, and the wine country lifestyle meeting the big city arts scene with exclusive engagements by preeminent classical, opera, jazz, and dance artists.

Napa Valley is the ideal backdrop to this fine fete. Guests will be able to witness breathtaking musical performances, taste the finest cuisine at vintner luncheons and winemaker dinners, and rub elbows with Napa Valley winemaking elite. One thing is sure, guests attending Festival Napa Valley are treated to a spectacular experience that will tease and arouse all the senses.

Sight: your eyes will be treated with visions of rolling vineyards, iconic Napa Valley wineries, and clarity of the fine wines you will be drinking. Sound: your ears will rejoice, hearing all the sounds of Festival Napa Valley. Touch: feel the weight of the wine glass in your hand, the tremendous mouthfeel that the wines possess and the amazing texture of the food you are eating. Smell: inhale the intoxicating aromas of wine country, of course the wine. But also take in the nuances of the expertly crafted juice in your glass. Taste: once you’ve inhaled the wine in your glass, note if it tastes as you expected it to taste, or if there is an unexpected surprise in the mid-palate or finish of the wine.

2017 featured artists include: Bill Murray, Gloria Estefan, American baritone Lucas Meachem, American baritone Lester Lynch, pianist Wei Luo, Cuban pianist Aldo Lopez-Gavilan, pianist Nikolay Khozyainov, guitarist Jiji, conductor Stephane Deneve, soprano Danielle de Niese, American soprano Angel Blue and violinist Joshua Bell.

Visit the festival website for the full schedule and to purchase tickets.

Transcendence Theatre – Broadway Under the Stars in Jack London Park, California.

Transcendence Theatre – Broadway Under the Stars

June – September, 2017

Broadway Under the Stars, the name says it all. This high-octane show is performed literally under the stars in historic Jack London Park in Glen Ellen, CA. With a lush vineyard and ruins of an old winery as your backdrop, guests will enjoy the talents of cast. Thrilling celebrations of music and dance from Broadway, as well as original scores. Begin your night with a walk about wine tasting with some of Sonoma’s best wineries. Nibble on delicious bites from local food vendors or bring your own picnic. Pre-show activities begin at 5pm with the show at 7:30pm.

Located in Sonoma, California, Transcendence produces a unique seasonal programming of live outdoor Broadway-style concerts and musicals at their primary performance space within the majestic open-air ruins of the Kohler & Frohling Winery at Jack London State Historic Park. Additional performances take place in remarkable locations, both indoor and out, throughout Sonoma.


Off the Grid – Presidio Picnic

March – October 2017

There are many opportunities to take advantage of Off the Grid in San Francisco, both at Fort Mason and in the Presidio. Both locations feature a phenomenal culinary lineup. Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center is every Friday, starting Friday, March 3 from 5-10pm with new amenities, a fresh look & feel, and exciting new vendors. This year, guests can expect a new layout with an expanded lineup featuring food trucks, tented vendors, and food from Off the Grid’s culinary development program known as Instrucktional.

Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center will run every Friday 5-10pm from March 3 through October 20, 2017. Visit offthegrid.com/fmcfaq for more info!

Presidio Picnic will start up again in the Spring and continue through October on Sundays at the Main Parade Grounds from 11 AM – 4 PM. Throw out a blanket and enjoy a culinary extravaganza featuring food trucks offering local and artisanal fare, wine and beer, games, retail and yoga during San Francisco’s favorite picnic. Guests can reserve cabanas and fire pits in advance and receive cabana service direct to the tent. It can get quite chilly in the Presidio, blankets, tents and fire pits are highly recommended.

Outside Lands 2015: The Main Stage Ignites! Image: Andrew Jorgenson.

Outside Lands San Francisco

August 11 – 13, 2017, Golden Gate Park

Outside Lands literally is a music, wine, and food Mecca. They have WineLands and BeerLands folks! Seriously, what could be better than visiting WineLands as you are making the trek from one stage to the next through often foggy and cold Golden Gate Park in August?

At WineLands, you preload a card with money to spend either on tasting portions or full glasses of the wines being featured. You can even load up the card online before you get there to save time and get to drinking wine faster.

Get there early as last year they ran out of their cool branded WineLands GoVino plastic glasses. If you have yours from last year, bring it; it will save you a buck or two.

Northern California is full of amazing wineries to choose from. Wine Lands allows you to do a walk-about tasting while never setting foot outside of Golden Gate Park. A few highlight wineries from last year include: AP Vin, Banshee, Bluxome Street, Claypool Cellars, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Ridge, Red Car, Robert Sinskey, Scharffenberger, and Wind Gap.

Being that this is an SF-born festival, it only seems right to drink SF Bay area beers at Outside Lands. So if craft brews are your thing, take a break from the bands and do a bit of beer tasting with these brewmeisters: 21st Amendment, Bear Republic, Drakes Brewing, Firestone Walker, Magnolia Brewery, Napa Smith, Stone Brewing and Half Moon Bay.

Tickets always sell out for this three-day musical journey. Buy them in advance.

Robert Mondavi Summer Concert Series.

Robert Mondavi Winery Summer Music Series, Napa Valley

Summer Months, 2017, Napa Valley

For the past few decades, the good folks at Robert Mondavi winery have been putting on a Summer Concert Series on the hallowed grounds of the winery. You will pinch yourself to be certain you are not dreaming as you set foot onto the lush green grass with vineyards as the backdrop to the sweet musical sounds of big named artists.

Their lineup will be released in April, but recent past artists included Huey Lewis and the News, The Wallflowers, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Etheridge, ZZ Ward and Bruce Hornsby. If you dig into the archives from the 1980s and 70s, you’ll find names such as Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Dave Brubeck on the list. And the name you’ll find most frequently donning the list is The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, performing nearly every year since 1971. As the sun sets, pink, orange and purple will begin to emerge in the chilling summer night, you will curl your lips around a chilled glass of Mondavi’s favorite summer wine, Fume Blanc, and all will be right in the world.

Get tickets in advance. And sign up for their mailing list now to be notified of the musical lineup this year. The lineup will be announced in April.

Rodney Strong Vineyards Concert Series.

Rodney Strong Summer Music Series, Sonoma County

Summer Months, 2017, Healdsburg

Rodney Strong Winery has been showcasing their summer concert series for 25 years now. Their stunning winery is a perfect backdrop to taking in some of the best acts of all time. Located just south of the town of Healdsburg, Rodney Strong is nestled in the sweeping vineyards of Russian River Valley. Guests are invited to pack a picnic, blankets or low chairs to sit on and curl up with a nice bottle of Rodney Strong wine. If you prefer to have a dedicated area and seat for the show, they also offer VIP seating with a bounty of RS wines to choose from as well. Past performers include: Smokey Robinson, Dave Koz, Al Green, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, The B-52s and George Benson.

Sign up for their mailing list to get information on the music lineup being announced in April.

Stern Grove Festival. SF Ballet. Image: Scott Wall

BONUS: Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, 80th Season

June through August 2017

This is a bonus festival because guests get to bring their own wine/beer/food to the shows. Stern Grove is a free music and performing arts show that has been going on in SF since 1938. In the belly of rustic and scenic Stern Grove Park in the Sunset District of San Francisco lies one of the best natural concert venues around. The shows are free to the public (donations are greatly appreciated to keep the free music flowing), and guests can bring wine, food, beer… whatever floats your fancy to imbibe and munch on while you’re there. So the quality of the wine/beer/food is really up to you.

Recent past artists include: Ozomatli, Marcia Ball, SF Ballet and SF Symphony, The Zombies, The Funky Meters, Aaron Neville, and Ok Go! Go and support a real SF legacy, the arts and have a great time.

VIP tickets are available in the form of reserving picnic tables in advance. See their website for the full 2017 schedule and line-up for this year’s remarkable 80th season. The line-up will be announced May 1st.

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Sherrie Perkovich
Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences. She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all. If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it. Follow her columns, for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.