Tourists will be heading to California’s Napa Valley this weekend with one thing on their mind. No, not wine—ukuleles.
While Napa is known as the home to rarified wine tastings at top-notch vineyards, this weekend marks the 8th annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival and music, fun, and, okay, maybe some wine drinking, are on the agenda.
The music-filled festival kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 10, with a rollicking campfire jamboree at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, located in the heart of wine country between St. Helena and Calistoga. Bring a picnic (and a bottle of wine, of course) and listen to (or join in with) the tunes of ukulele stars Alan Ferentz and Christine Weber under the stars.
On Friday, head to the Saint Helena Farmer’s Market in the morning for free ukulele lessons for adults and children alike, no experience necessary! Accomplished uke players are invited to bring their instruments to fill the farmers’ market with music along with uke legends Fred and Lynn Sokolow. The night’s activities include a so-called “Happy Hour String Along” followed by a performance by ukulele and accordion duo The Quiet American.
The heart of the festival is over the weekend with workshops on fine-tuning ukulele skills, learning new ones, and discovering how ukuleles can change the world (really!). The Wine Country Ukulele Festival schedule is filled with performances, late night jam sessions, and even a flea market. It all wraps up with a performance by Heidi Swedberg and the Smoking Jackets at Velo Vino in St. Helena.
If all the music has inspired you to pick up a ukulele, there are even workshops that promise to teach neophytes to play in a single day. If it turns out you have a tin ear, well, at least you’ll have plenty of wine to drown your sorrows in.