“Welcome back to paradise,” Rene Byck said to guests when his family opened their new events center at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa in December 2019.
The Fountaingrove winery and tasting room had been destroyed in the 2017 Tubbs fire, breaking the hearts of not only the Bycks but also locals and visitors who flocked to Paradise Ridge’s perch on Thomas Lake Harris Drive for its expansive views of the Santa Rosa plain, romantic sunsets, modern sculptures and, of course, wine.
As Paradise Ridge has risen from its ashes, its wildly popular Wines & Sunsets Wednesdays are back — perhaps better than ever. More appreciated, at least. Live music, local food trucks, Dan Barwick’s wines from the Russian River Valley and Rockpile regions, the now-iconic metal LOVE sculpture and, yes, postcard-perfect sunsets all celebrate recovery, both from fire and COVID-19.
Running through Oct. 27, Wines & Sunsets’ June offerings ($15) are Ron’s One Man Band (with Sushi Shoubu) on June 9; Dave Chapman (with Zazu Black Piglet) on June 16; Lara Louise (with Lata Indian Couzine) in June 23; and Da Puna Bruddahs (with Dry Creek Catering) on June 30. Visit the website for the full schedule.
4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-528-9463, prwinery.com
Other Sonoma wineries have plugged their mics and amps back in, now that many pandemic restrictions have lifted. Reservations are required and physical distancing is factored into concert setups. The music is back, more intimately yet just as exuberantly, at these tuneful Sonoma wineries.
Adobe Road Winery
While owners Kevin and Debbie Buckler advance with construction of a Petaluma riverfront tasting room, event center and auto racing museum (Kevin is a professional race car driver and team owner), they offer a range of tasting experiences at their current Great Petaluma Mill location, including the Thursday night concert series. From 4:30-7 p.m., tasters are entertained by live music, the most recent performer being Dan Durkin of the band Petty Theft, which covers the songs of the late Tom Petty. Check the website for upcoming performances, under Events. There is no cover charge for those with reservations for tasting experiences on Thursday evenings; multiple wine flights are available, with the Racer Series, bold red wines inspired by Kevin Buckler’s racing career and targeted to gear heads.
6 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-774-6699, adoberoadwines.com
Gundlach Bundschu Winery
President Jeff Bundschu and his family love to drink wine with musical accompaniment and to share their joy with visitors throughout summer. Intimate Wine and Music experiences are indeed that: Groups of up to six are set up with their own “circle” to enjoy — physically distanced — good wine and music. A circle is $500 and includes a tasting flight of wine. Act quickly, as circles sell out fast. On June 10, 5:30-8 p.m., Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Matt Sweeney perform; the next night, June 11, features the group Superwolves. A concert by Alabama-based Waxahatchee (real name Katie Crutchfield), postponed last year, has been rescheduled for Sept. 21 ($32).
In addition, Gundlach Bundschu hosts the annual (except for 2020) Huichica Music Festival, with indie performers taking the outdoor stage, food trucks supplying the eats and Gun-Bun wines flowing. The 2021 event is Oct. 16-17. Visit sonoma.huichica.com/about-huichica for the lineup announcement and information on how to buy tickets.
2000 Denmark St., Sonoma, 707-938-5277, gunbun.com
Little Vineyards Family Winery
Joan and Rich Little grow 17.5 acres of grapes and make no more than 2,500 cases of wine a year at their boutique winery in Glen Ellen. This year, they host five musical afternoons on their outdoor stage as part of the annual Music from the Vines series; three remain on the schedule, one of which includes guitarist Rich’s own Rich Little Band. Tickets are sold through eventbrite.com, not the winery.
June 20: Will Bernards and Freelance Subversives; Victor Little, Joe Begale and Wil Blades with the Rich Little Band. Tickets: mftvwillbernard.eventbrite.com
July 18: Joe Craven & The Sometimers with Kate Gaffney. mftvjoecraven.eventbrite.com
Aug. 15: The Pebbles, featuring Greg Anton, Stu Allen, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz, Robin Sylvester and Stephanie Salva. mftvthepebbles.eventbrite.com
Tables are sold in configurations of two, four and six seats. All tickets include a glass of wine, souvenir wine glasses and a limited-edition poster commemorating the event.
15188 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, 707-996-2750, littlevineyards.com
On Simmer Down Sundays, this Sonoma Valley winery offers live music on its patio, from 2-4 p.m. June performances to come: Drew James (June 13), Don Trotta (June 20) and Matt Duo featuring Matt Langlois (June 27). Reservations are highly recommended, and a $15 purchase from the tasting room menu is required for access to Simmer Down Sundays. One of the high points is the All Things Italian Reserve Tasting Experience ($45), which pairs Muscardini wines, Vermouth aperitivo and digestivo grappa with salumi, olive oil and cheese, including Journeyman Meats’ salumi infused with Muscardini wine and Cassata Vineyards olive oil.
9380 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-933-9305, muscardinicellars.com
Rodney Strong Vineyards
The Beach Boys. Hall & Oates. Alanis Morissette. Melissa Etheridge. The Temptations with the Four Tops. These are among the musical performers this winery, located between Windsor and Healdsburg, has presented in recent years in its Summer Concert Series. The pandemic derailed concerts in 2020, and the winery’s cautious response in 2021 is to slowly add live music to special events and a three-date Americana Festival (July 31, Aug. 28 and Sept. 25). The shows, all on Saturdays, are 5-7 p.m. and feature local bands, food trucks and arts and crafts makers. The Highway Poets will kick off the family-friendly festival on July 31. $10 for adults and free for kids.
Rodney Strong also welcomes Pops and his peeps for Father’s Day, June 20, to enjoy wine, music from Sebastian St. James and food from the Tisza Bistro folks. Cost varies by tasting experiences selected. On July 4, Hootenanny plays classic rock, pop and country tunes, accompanied by burgers, ribs and brisket from Healdsburg’s KINSmoke ($55).
11455 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, 800- 678-4763, rodneystrong.com
This space at Healdsburg’s Old Roma Station is a cooperative tasting room for bracing wines from Rootdown Cellars and Leo Steen Wines. Once a month through summer, The Drink (winemakers Mike Lucia and Leo Steen Hansen) offers live music. Next concert is June 4 at 5 p.m. Check the Rootdown Cellars website for dates and performers.