Step inside the burgundy and gold Wine Lands tent at Outside Lands, and you might just forget you’re attending a music festival. With three dozen winemakers on the floor and grapevine-inspired chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, it feels more like a high-end wine festival.
“A lot of people wouldn’t take the time to create an environment like this for only three days,” says Peter Eastlake, Wine Lands curator and a Food & Wine magazine Sommelier of the Year: 2013. “We’re giving people a great setting, great music ,and great food. We also wanted to add an art project element, and we’ve succeeded. As soon as people walk into the tent, they pull out their phones to take pictures.”
Inside Wine Lands, visitors will find Instagram-worthy serving vessels, including oversized wine barrels and a 1920s vintage sink with wine pouring from the tap. Not to be outdone, Scharffenberger Cellars will be serving biodynamic sparking wines from a giant canoe.
Fifteen ticket stations keep the lines short for $1 wine tickets, which can be exchanged for $2 to $3 tastes or $8 to $20 full pours of California’s best wines.Visitors will be able to chat with most of the winemakers as they fill their custom GoVino glasses from both bottles and barrels. An outdoor courtyard with picnic tables gives guests a comfortable place to sit and sip more than 120 wines.
This is Eastlake’s sixth year curating Wine Lands, and his approach could be summed up as, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Dozens of winemakers are returning for 2013, including Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead, serving organic Napa Valley kegged wine, and premium wine partner J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, showcasing estate-grown, sustainably-farmed varietals from California’s Central Coast.
There are newcomers as well. Eastlake is particularly excited to introduce Wine Lands visitors to saké on draft, bringing SakéOne to serve Momokawa Saké, a premium organic Saké brewed in Forest Grove, Oregon. He has also brought in rockstar wine importer Charles Neal, procured up-and-coming Forlorn Hope wine by Matthew Rorick, and successfully pursued In Pursuit of Balance, an initiative co-founded by Rajat Parr.
“What’s really cool about a music festival is the discovery of new bands, and we want to reinforce that experience at Wine Lands,” Eastlake explains. “I don’t know if there is anywhere else you can find fifty wines for eight dollars a glass.”
There also may be no other place to pair wines with some of the music legends in the Outside Lands line-up, and Eastlake took the time to make a few recommendations. He’d pair Paul McCartney with a glass of red Bordeaux from SF-based French wine importer, Charles Neil. With Nine Inch Nails, he suggests Summer of Riesling. He says Willie Nelson pairs naturally with Hobo Wine Company. As for Daryl Hall & John Oates, he says, “I’d pair them with a Turley White Zinfandel, just to make sure we transport everyone right back to 1981.”
Perhaps his most titillating combination is Red Hot Chili Peppers and Menage a Trois: “It’s an iconic California brand for deviant reasons, just like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
The full 2013 Wine Lands line-up includes: