These Summer winery festival shows are quite something. A welcomed addition to our touring schedule and the chaps at Chateau Ste. Michelle really know how to organise them. The musical events here have been running now for over 30 years and can boast a long list of artists who have incorporated it into their touring schedules. Net proceeds – and there are indeed some due to the huge amounts of wine purchased on site by festival goers – from the annual concert series help fund their charitable contributions program, which supports a broad range of non-profit organisations. The winery produces a lovely drop and has received some of the highest accolades in the industry.

The day started with yet another gym session – I know – how does he do it? I hear you ask. Well those bloody craft beers have a hilarious effect on a 55 year-old body. Enough of that, I sauntered into the breakfast area to gasps of shock from management (I’m only a part-time member), Mark, Glenn and management together assembled form the ‘breakfast club’. They are up and at it early every day with Paul Crockford’s perpetual quest for the perfect poached eggs and little sympathy for poor coffee, the breakfast club now has legendary status. It’s always good for a bit of harmless abuse to start the day. The management/band banter is always hilarious and I often wonder what other diners must think as the laughter can be infectious. Today’s poached eggs were, I can report, perfect. It’s a nice hotel, the Shangri-La.

With Briggs and Rileys packed, bags were collected – door to door – by Sir Peter at 11:15 and departure was set for 1pm. We were driven to the GA terminal at Vancouver International and were introduced to our North American Embraer Legacy package. U.S. hostess Debbie greeted us with supreme efficiency and plates of fresh Vancouver Sushi for our inaugural trip. Now we’re back, the bubble really doesn’t fully close up until we take off on the Magic Carpet with chopsticks in hand.

Immigration at Seattle was as smooth as I’ve ever known, the luxury of private travel offers a more ‘personalised’ welcome into this wonderful country. An officer came on board on the tarmac and ushered the Brits over to the GA immigration building where the usual fingerprinting and processing took place. A Seattle driving team waited patiently on the tarmac to take us to the venue, about a 45 minute drive.

The weather is particularly beautiful for our stay with a high temperature today of 80 degrees. Perfect for an outdoor show, in fact TWO outdoor shows at this sumptuous venue. The crew had a long day of it, nothing unusual there then, the sun on the stage was hot but nothing compared to some of the shows recently in Europe which were off the scale. I caught Kevin Rowe restringing an acoustic, something that is done of a regular basis in this outfit.

Picnicking area….

The dressing rooms are situated in a delightful house, one of many on the estate, and the local catering is really lovely. The general vibe here is great, ‘civilised’ would be the most appropriate word. No soundcheck was needed and an early showtime of 7pm was soon upon us. We took to the stage in bright evening sunshine and surveyed the picnicking audience most of whom had bottle in hand, ready for a great evening. Show 1 of 2 was fab, Mark was relaxed and joking with the crowd, the band were sublime, the sound was great, stage was great, crew were great and by the end of it everyone was on their feet as we left to head back to the hotel. A quick turnaround and we were soon across the road in the Farmer’s Market basement bar drinking – you’ve guessed it – more delicious local craft beers. SO glad I went to the gym.

Some images from the Market…

Supplemental Log – Star Date 13/9/15

‘You gotta love the rain’….finally, this morning we woke to drizzle, low visibility and light rain so synonymous with Seattle. Our second show at the Chateau Ste. Michelle was just as enjoyable and exciting as the first. This was the final show of their annual musical festivities and I think everyone, promoter, band, winery organisers and crowd went home happy.

Since the after show potations have been spearheaded by adventures in local beers, we actually didn’t get a chance to properly taste the various wines produced by Chateau Ste. Michelle. At my suggestion, this was done before the show this evening, adhering strictly to traditional wine etiquette of swirl, smell sip and spit. Mark and I tasted four different reds and three whites. Of the wines, the Ethos reserve red, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon from Columbia Valley won together with the 2013 Chardonnay from the same location.

John and I had a wander amongst the audience who were streaming into the venue carrying all manner of boxes and table contraptions with a view to setting up for al fresco dining in the late Summer sunshine. Bottles of the Chateau Ste. Michelle wine were everywhere and some of the spreads were quite exceptional.

After the show we were back in the hotel before 10pm so another swift visit to the Pike pub across the street seemed inevitable. We sipped local lager and devoured rounds of Buffalo Wings, Humous and Nachos in our post gig feeding frenzy. Resistance is futile, it’s what happens after a show prompting a repeat visit to the gym tomorrow morning.