Chateau Ste, Michelle winery is probably Washington’s largest and most successful but what sets this place apart are the outdoor concerts which take place throughout each Summer. Producing over 2 million cases of wine each year, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, and Riesling, the winery has been in existence since 1954. Over the years, many Washington winemakers have gotten their start working for Chateau Ste. Michelle. Promoting these concerts for 25 years now, Dave Littrell has looked after us many times here and his invitation for golf the other day was both kind and memorable. The dressing rooms are housed in a separate house from the concert area, lovely rooms, great kitchen, dining area and a collection of several beautiful Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.
Here we are with only a handful of shows left on this incredible trip. Coming now toward the end of the season here, we were all looking at the forecasts carefully. Remarkably, and considering it’s been so wet in Seattle this week, our 2 shows here were both dry (almost). Show 1 was overcast, humid and we managed to get through the set dry but as soon as we started the encores, we noticed the rain coming. This seemed to excite the crowd as opposed to dampening spirits. Our driver this week, whose name is Fletcher (we now call each other ‘Fletch’) said that people from here LOVE rain and respond with joy when they get wet. Rather like plants. “Seattle, You’ve got to love the rain”.
As soon as we left the area in our customary ‘runner’ the heavens opened and the rain didn’t let up until the crew arrived to set up the gear again for show number 2. Our crew are hugely experienced and know all too well the havoc adverse weather can wreak on our instruments so they literally stripped the back-line and put everything back on the trucks. Whilst they were doing that, the band were back at the downtown hub-tel, and ready to walk across the road to one of our favourite pubs on the road, the Pike Brewery. The beer is just perfect, especially after a gig, particularly one called ‘Nellie’.
The next day we all wok to a typical Seattle morning, low cloud and perpetual rain. The view across the sound was a wall of grey but as the morning went by, it started to clear and by the time we arrived at the winery, it was dry. The gear was all set up and we decided not to sound check. The catering is always top notch and not having really eaten at all, I dived into a fabulous home cooked Paella.
Evening was upon us once more and doors opened at 5pm. Mark asked Mike and John if they would play an opening set, just as they had done in Turin. They obliged and played a mesmerising folk set of around 30 minutes. John, rushed back to the house, where the dressing rooms are located and still found time to prepare everyone’s Lemon, Honey and Ginger teas. Yes, we still do that!
As the clouds dissipated, I decided to take a few selfies with the band, the thought of not seeing these guys in a few weeks compelled me. We took to the stage once more to what was now a lovely evening. No rain even threatened. It was humid though, which made guitar necks a little sticky. An occupational hazard for outdoor shows. That explains the talcum powder often seen on the back of Mark’s Les Paul necks.
Under clear skies we romped through the set, the European contingent were here in full force and were determined to enjoy themselves in the front rows, no doubt adequately lubricated on Chateau Ste, Michelle’s finest offerings. Lovely to see. Before we knew it, we were in cars again and heading back into Seattle where Pike’s bar waited. It was only 9:30pm when we headed out which left us 2 and a half hours before closing time. Dangerous!