A Pandemic-Era Guide to BottleRock 2021
(Courtesy of BottleRock Napa Valley)

A Pandemic-Era Guide to BottleRock 2021


After a 15-month hiatus, BottleRock Napa Valley is set to finally take place over Labor Day weekend, featuring headliners Chris Stapleton, Guns N' Roses, and the Foo Fighters.

The festival historically occurs over Memorial Day weekend, but was postponed a second time due to Covid-19 (Labor Day is typically one of the hottest weekends of the year in Napa, so make sure you hydrate).

BottleRock is now just a few weeks away and, despite the Delta variant and rising Covid-19 cases across the country, festival founders are determined the show will go on...with some safety measures in place, of course.

Here's what you can expect at the Bay Area's first major pandemic music festival.

Safety Measures & Protocols at BottleRock 2021

Among rising cases and concerns about the Delta variant, BottleRock announced a few weeks ago that they will require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test (taken within 72 hours) for entry. Expect this to add to the wait time to get in, which in recent years could already take 30 minutes to an hour. If you're trying to make a specific performance, you'll be wise to give yourself a good buffer.

Even though it is an outdoor festival, you'll still want to have your mask in tow as it will be required for entry into indoor spaces such as the spa—where biodegradable-glitter facials, hair braiding, and hydration therapy await—and the platinum lounge if you're fancy like that. Masks will also come in handy when using the porta-potties anyway.

The festival has committed to other health and safety measures, including touchless wristbands, cashless payment, and more than 350 sanitizing stations.

Getting to BottleRock 2021

(Courtesy of BottleRock Napa Valley)

If you don't feel like worrying about driving and parking, BottleRock offers round-trip bus transportation each day from San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, Sonoma, Mill Valley, Palo Alto, and Santa Rosa. Uber and Lyft are options, or you can sip a free glass of wine or beer aboard Amtrak San Joaquins.

Napa Valley locals can get free rides on the Vine Transit, which will also take out-of-towners to BART. Free parking is available in downtown Napa (the earlier you get there, the better luck you'll have), a short walk from the festival, or you can purchase a parking pass.

If you haven't booked your accommodations yet, good luck. Whatever may still be available will definitely cost you.

The Music Lineup at BottleRock 2021

(Courtesy of BottleRock Napa Valley)

Chris Stapleton (Friday), Guns N' Roses (Saturday), and Foo Fighters (Sunday) are headlining this year's festival. Stapleton was added last minute when Stevie Nicks canceled the remainder of her 2021 performances due to Covid-19 concerns. Other big-name acts include Miley Cyrus, G-Eazy, Megan Thee Stallion, Brandi Carlile, Cage the Elephant, Run the Jewels, Young the Giant, Jimmy Eat World, and Portugal. The Man. Check out the full lineup here.

The best way to plan your festival experience is to download the BottleRock app (for iPhone or Android), where you can build your schedule ahead of time and ensure you won't miss any acts you really want to see—though be prepared for some agonizing crossovers that will force you to either choose between two favorites or have you running between stages. It'll even send you a notification when a performance you scheduled is coming up. Don't forget to slot some time in for the Silent Disco.

Food & Drink at BottleRock 2021

(Courtesy of BottleRock Napa Valley)

Set in Napa Valley's culinary mecca, BottleRock has arguably the best culinary lineup in the country. While some past favorites are noticeably missing this year, like Morimoto and Thomas Keller's buckets of AdHoc fried chicken, you'll still find plenty Napa Valley standbys including the Michelin-starred La Toque, Mustards Grill, Oentori, Press, Boonfly Cafe (and their delicious donuts), and Goose & Gander (if they're serving their famous G&G burger, get it).

The festival also presents a great chance to sample signature dishes from some of Napa Valley's newest restaurants—think Empress M's dim sum and authentic high-end Chinese; Ace & Vine; and El Porteno Empanadas, also a staple at the SF Ferry Building. Some of the region's best kept secrets will also turn up. Don't pass on Blanchard's Fried Chicken, a cultish pop-up that's a worthy replacement for AdHoc, or MO's Hot Dogs, perfect for when the munchies strike.

There's also no other festival in America that has a wine lineup like this, though this year's does seem less robust than in previous years, likely due to staffing issues, cost cuts due to the pandemic, and the fact that this year's festival takes place in the middle of harvest season. But there will still be roughly 20 local wineries pouring at the festival. If you're serious about your vino, make sure to grab a glass of Just Pink! rosé, made by one of Napa's most sought-after winemakers, and Amuse Bouche, crafted by one of the first and most-renowned female winemakers in California, Heidi Barrett. There will also be plenty of craft beer and cocktails.

The Williams-Sonoma Culinary Stage will also make its return to BottleRock. The lineup has yet to be released, but you can expect some epic pairings between your favorite musicians and chefs. Past guests have included Martha Stewart, and Jerry Rice, and Snoop Dogg, who set a world record for the largest cocktail ever made, which was, of course, a Gin and Juice.

After-Shows and Parties, BottleRock 2021

(Courtesy of Cadet Wine & Beer Bar)

BottleRock has organized a slew of aftershows at different venues throughout Napa and the Bay Area. Many are already sold out, but if you're having BottleRock FOMO (or decide to head home early) there are still tickets available to shows at August Hall, the Fillmore in San Francisco, and the UC Berkeley Theatre.

Other downtown Napa businesses (a short walk from the festival grounds) will be hosting their own after parties and serving up late-night eats and drinks. Gran Electrica will stay open until 2am (which is basically unheard of in sleepy Napa) on Friday and Saturday and will have live DJs, food, and tasty margs with no cover charge. Napa's notorious party pad, Cadet Wine & Beer Bar, will also have an after-party on Saturday and Sunday (there will be a cover charge), with more details to be announced soon.

Compline plans to serve up hearty dishes like their famous burger with duck fat fries, fried chicken sandwiches, veggies burgers, steak, and more as part of a $35 ticketed reservation from 10pm to 11:30 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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