BottleRock Napa Valley festival spells success 4 min read

Napa residents David Graham, Justin Drago, Joe Fischer and Jason Scoggins produce this year’s BottleRock Napa Valley festival.





The Fray

A bright blue sky and the Petaluma Bay breeze caressing the Napa Valley Expo grounds spelled perfect weather for this weekend’s much anticipated BottleRock Napa Valley festival.  The event debuted last year with a four-day music, wine and food extravaganza. Many Napa residents fell in love with the inaugural experience and the 120,000 people who attended last year’s festival were not disappointed.


Napa natives were particularly thrilled about having a major music experience in their own backyard. Things close early in Napa Valley area, one would be hard pressed to find many spots open after 10 pm, so this was a welcome change.


Four Napa residents, David Graham, Justin Drago, Joe Fischer and Jason Scoggins, who are partners in Latitude 38 Entertainment, had produced this year’s festival. Although none of them are experienced in the music business, they have business acumen to spare.  Taking over from last year’s management, they were able to book bands, promote and sell out the event, and coordinate all of the logistics, within two and a half months! They capped attendance at 50,000. At times you could feel the immense crowd’s presence, yet it wasn’t as overwhelming as one may have expected. The clearly defined goal of providing an authentic Napa experience succeeded. Once again, food and wine were stellar and the choice of talent was fantastic. Additionally, their “worst seat in the house equals best at any other venue” strategy paid off. The enhanced platinum VIP program entitled 300 lucky guests to food prepared by Michelin-starred chefs and wine chosen by a Master Sommelier as well as direct stage viewing.


Tri-Tip Trolley

Their selection of bands clearly embodied the festival’s  “something for everyone” motto. Whether you wanted to relax with a glass of Ceja Pinot Noir or jam to an Indie rock band, you came to the right place. The bands performed on four stages. The Whole Foods marketplace featured the likes of Morimoto, Tarla Grill, Napkins, Ca’Momi, Oakville Grocery and many more.  A multitude of food trucks were on hand, with the highlight being the newly launched, Tri-Tip Trolley, which was my favorite bite of the event.


I’m not sure what pairs better with food: great wine or great music.


The partners were passionate about merging music, fine wine, food and fun in a setting of a wine country back drop. The team’s laser-like focus on guest experience and unrelenting commitment to excellence paid off.


They met with community leaders to discuss noise issues, and how to attract more local business activities in conjunction with the event. The noise concerns were alleviated by a creative positioning of amplifiers. They contributed to the Napa economy by promoting after-parties at local restaurants and wine bars. Spreading the wealth and supporting local business were one of the partners core values. The event was run in a tight, very business-like way without sacrificing neighborliness or community values.


Isaac Slade of The Fray, with a bottle of Rombauer Cabernet prominently displayed on his piano, rocked the house, performing a stunning version of his hit “How to Save a Life.”The crowds took in a mix of indie bands, classic hip-hop and an onslaught of nostalgia from 1990s.  The event featured performers such as Third Eye Blind and Smash Mouth. The alternative rock band Cure was a huge hit with the crowds, as was Outkast, Eric Church, Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Cracker, Weezer, LLCool J, Barenaked Ladies, Camper Van Beethoven, Gin Blossoms, Matt and Kim, Sublime with Rome, and TV on the Radio (over 60 bands in all!) Howie Day was a highlight for me. His performance was extraordinary. Emotionally charged lyrics combined with inspired music have been a hallmarks of his impressive career. He found a loyal and receptive audience at this event. His hit song “Collide” was a runaway audience favorite.


Several of the principles’ dads served in the military, so military-related causes are near and dear to their hearts. Part of the proceeds of the festival going forward will be donated to charitable causes dedicated supporting our troops.


Howie Day

The festival was a very successful event that embraced a variety of genres, both on and off stage. You could have a simple bite with your favorite beer or a sophisticated glass of wine paired with expertly made sushi, all within a few feet of each other. You could come for a concert and stay for three, all for the same admission fee. You could chat with winemakers at their wine booths or relax in a lounge with a refreshing drink. You could kiss your partner passionately under the stars while swaying to your favorite tunes…

Can’t wait for it to return next year.


Ilona Thompson

Ilona Thompson is Editor-in-Chief at PalateXposure, a destination site for oenophiles, gourmands and luxury travelers. She also recently launched #Wine, a site dedicated to wines and spirits reviews, and #Photography, a site devoted to high-quality wine, food, and travel related photography.

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