SAN FRANCISCO, August 8, 2014 – The Outside Lands music festival starts today. For you wine and music lovers, this is your dream event. Here you can sample some of California’s best, and pair it all with the best tunes during outside performances in iconic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
OutsideLands this year is stacked with quality wines, brews and music lineups. Music and wine are just meant for each other. You can speak about them both in similar languages: smooth, bubbly, dry, fruity, jammy, bold, earthy and sultry. And just as the number of bands and artists to listen to is seemingly endless, so are your choices at Wine and Beer Lands this year.
Here is this year’s must-taste list of wineries with suggested musical pairings.
A total of 40 wineries will be uncorking over 100 wines. This is truly an epic wine tasting opportunity. These wines can be found under an ornate tent in the Hellman Hollow Field. Outside Lands wants to transport you to a wine-inspired setting complete with grapevines, charming chandeliers, elaborate draped ceilings, and oversized wine barrels with benches inside them for sitting and sipping wine. Sure some of the big guys will be there like Hess Collection and Franciscan Estate, but the small, family-owned places are well represented too. Here’s what you should taste:
AP Vin, San Francisco: AP Vin is one of an increasing number of San Francisco based wineries. AP Vin was one of the first. The name AP Vin is derived from the owner’s name, Andrew P. Vingiello. Andrew only produces vineyard designate Pinot Noir. The quality of these wines is impeccable. Music Pairing: The Killers. Both established in the early 2000’s, unique, bold, complex even, but oh so smooth. The Killer’s hauntingly good lyrics will pair perfectly with the deep and soulful Pinot Noir wines from AP Vin.
Banshee Wines, Healdsburg: Three friends, a missed turn, copious amounts of Champagne — and Banshee was born. Banshee has come a long way in a short time, but their goal hasn’t changed: to craft distinctive wine that over-delivers in every possible way. Banshee Wines is not your normal wine company. It is a band of wine industry insiders dedicated to producing benchmark wines without cult wine prices. Their focus is on Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon – all produced in an approachable style. Music pairing: John Butler Trio. Whatever Pinot Noir this trio is pouring will pair perfectly with John Butler Trio.
Claypool Cellars, Sebastopol: it doesn’t get much funkier and fresh than a visit to Claypool Cellars, home to Les Claypool’s (Primus) wines. These super-cool Burgundy and Rhone style wines are just what the doctor ordered for this year’s Outside Lands. The weather looks to be the typical fog-filled disaster, so warm yourself up with these luscious wines, especially the Pachyderm Fancy Rhone-Style Blend. Music Pairing: Duck Sauce just might be funky and fresh enough to withstand the cool soul of Claypool Cellars.
Hess Collection, Napa: Hess Collection wines are as classy and artful as their stunning winery in Napa. Even though Hess is one of the big guys, their smaller production wines are quite impressive. If they are featuring any of their Hess Select or Artezin wines, gobble them up! Artezin features some wonderful lesser-known varietals such as Carignan, Charbono and Mourvedre. Music Pairing: this is a tough one, but if they are featuring any of the Artezin wines, these hearty and robust wines deserve a band that can stand up to the heat. Pair with the lyrical prowess of Death Cab for Cutie.
Inman Family, Russian River Valley: Kathleen Inman is at the core of this Russian River Valley winery. Her heart was always in wine country, regardless of where her life took her. There was a period when she was split between her love of wine and her love of family. Romance has a deep influence in Kathleen’s life and winemaking. Inman crafts fabulous Pinot Noir for sure, but possibly even better are her Sparkling Brut Rosé and Rosé of Pinot Noir, Endless Crush. Music pairing: Local Natives. The dreamy voice and longing melodies of Local Natives will pair perfectly with Endless Crush.
KIBO Sake: KIBO Sake will debut at Outside Lands this year. It is the latest in a stellar sake line up from SakeOne. Japanese sake brewery Suisen Shuzo produces KIBO, which translates to “hope” in Japanese. Hope is both an ironic and serendipitous word for this sake considering that on the very day they were preparing to ship their 2010 production, Japan was struck with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake only a few miles from their facility. Four years later they have overcome disaster, rebuilt and are back. Hope being a key ingredient in their comeback. This premium sake is deliciously soft and sweetly mellow with a bit of a dry finish. Music Pairing: Flaming Lips. As soon as I read the bio for the Flaming Lips I knew that they would be the perfect pairing for KIBO. They were hopeless and disturbed but found hope at the end of their dark tunnel.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Napa Valley: Robert Sinskey is not new to the wine game; he’s been at it for over 25 years. Early on he did a stint in advertising, but luckily for wine lovers, it didn’t stick. To taste a Robert Sinskey wine at Outside Lands is a good thing; however, to experience a flight of their wines, in the place they were made can be a very enlightening experience. Music pairing: Tom Petty. Undoubtedly they will be pouring some of their famed Cabernet Sauvignon. Some other favorites include their Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Whatever they are pouring, pair it with Tom Petty. Robert Sinskey is as vintage rock and roll as Tom Petty.
Scharffenberger Cellars, Anderson Valley: This sparkling wine specialty house is situated right in the heart of California’s Anderson Valley, and only a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Ocean, ideal growing conditions for these luscious grapes destined for bubbly greatness. Music Pairing: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Nothing makes you want to dance more than some bubbles and some Macklemore. Both Scharffenberger and Macklemore were born in the early 1980s. As soon as I lift glass to mouth and hear those foot-tapping, booty-shaking tunes, I feel happy and ready to groove. Anything Scharffenberger is pouring will be perfect.
Scribe, Sonoma: It doesn’t get more down home and rustic than a visit to Scribe. This is truly a hidden gem in Sonoma. There are literally hand-made signs fixed along dirt roads to direct you to the tasting room of this well-concealed winery. It might have a feel of the beginning of some horror flick, but rest assured, the folks at Scribe are as nice as can be. Plus they have some tasty wines to experience. Wines they are most known for include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Music pairing: Tedeschi Trucks Band will go nicely with either their Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
Wind Gap, Santa Cruz Mountains: Wind Gap is a small winery producing French-style wines and primarily known for their Pinot Noir and Syrah wines. The name Wind Gap celebrates this force of nature that shapes the wines. The lineup includes Chardonnay, Grenache, Trousseau Gris, Syrah and Pinot Noir, and the wines are sold through a mailing list. eRobertParker.com rated their 2010 Wind Gap Pinot Noir Woodruff Vineyard at 94 points. Music pairing: Greensky Bluegrass.These mountain wines deserve to be paired with mountain music.
If you are looking to keep the party rolling on Friday and Saturday after Outside Lands, head to the Clift Hotel’s Redwood Room in Union Square. Friday Grouplove is performing, and on Saturday The Kooks. RSVP required, 21+ only. RSVPs should be directed to CliftRedwoodRoom@mhgc.com. Location: 495 Geary Street.
General OL14 Advice:
- Dress in layers. The famous and brutal SF summer fog will likely be in full force. You will be happiest with a fleece, no joke.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Ladies, this means no stilettos or crazy stripper shoes. You will be walking around in dirt and grass. Suggested footwear: closed toed shoes such as gym shoes or hiking boots.
- Drink plenty of H2O. This is not a race or a contest to see who can drink the most. Pace yourself and enjoy the wines. They deserve your full attention.
- VIP. If you have the means to purchase VIP tickets, I highly recommend it. The bathrooms alone make it worth it.