Napa, California is one of my happy places. The sun, the wine, the food. Fun fact: my very first weekend living in San Francisco – still living in a hotel, in fact – we met up with some college friends and explored Sonoma, Napa’s cousin to the west.
Pre-Covid, we bought tickets to BottleRock, a 3-day wine, food, and music festival in Napa. It got rescheduled multiple times, and it finally happened on Labor Day weekend 2021, a year and a half after it was scheduled.
Let me tell you, it was worth the wait. We bought platinum tickets, which at around $4200 each, were not cheap to say the least. Why was it worth it, and what do they need to improve?
Ready to get your tickets? Platinum tickets sell out each year, but you can find tickets at all price points for resale. Please note that this post contains affiliate links; if you make a purchase through our link, we receive a small commission at no cost to you. I purchased my BottleRock Platinum tickets at full price, and all opinions are my own.
Though there’s an overwhelming amount of food and drink (more on this later), when you go to BottleRock, you’re really going for the music. The Platinum experience delivers in a major way.
There were 2 main stages and several smaller stages, and all had separate, premium viewing areas for Platinum and VIP ticket holders. Take a look at the key differences when comparing BottleRock VIP vs Platinum passes.
Platinum pass holders could watch right up front but to the side for one of the main stages, and we loved this spot, though it is right near the speakers and can be pretty intense.
There was also a Platinum-only viewing area about halfway back in the middle (where the sound booth is). This one, while further back, had the best sound quality AND 2 private bars just for Platinums. No worries about leaving your coveted spot for a drink because the drinks were here and there was less competition for this area.
One of the interesting perks for Platinum pass holders is the ability to watch the show from backstage on a raised platform. It was universally agreed that this was a super fun way to watch a show but that the sound was terrible. It was often hard to hear the singer because the speakers are all facing out toward the crowd (obviously) and by being backstage, you are behind them.
Meet and Greets
Platinum ticket holders are eligible to sign up for first-come, first-served reservations for artist meet and greets. We hear that this was pared back pretty heavily due to Covid, and it was a bit underwhelming. Some artists wanted a plexiglass shield between them and fans, some wanted masks, some were fine being up close. It went very quick – a hello, thanks for coming, snap a picture, and move on. No time to chat with the artists. It was more a photo op than a meet and greet. That said, still a fun experience.
Platinum visitors had access to the VIP Village, which is a dedicated area for passholders with VIP or Platinum tickets. The village had a small stage where artists often played a second set after playing on one of the larger stages, which was a nice way to see artists you may have missed, or to get closer and enjoy the experience while lounging on couches.
VIP Village also had about 25 food and drink vendors exclusive to VIP ticketholders, dedicated VIP bathrooms, and easy access between the main stages. Finally, there was a merchandise stand for VIP guests, which lets you skip the lines and shop in peace.
The heart of the Platinum pass was the platinum lounge, which was a dedicated, air-conditioned (this is important!) indoor lounge and outdoor patio with viewing to one of the main stages.
Within the Platinum lounge area, there were free lockers to store your belongings, a concierge desk, and Platinum-only bathrooms. The concierge could help with logistics, but they also had thoughtful items you might need during a festival. I saw baseball hats, sunscreen, lip balm, bobby pins, hair ties, and more.
The bathrooms were a major feature because they were fancy trailers with 4 stalls each, with separate trailers by gender. They were nice, clean, and while they smelled overwhelmingly of cherry cough syrup, it was nice that they didn’t smell of…other things…
Food and Drink
In the Platinum lounge itself was a premium bar with top-shelf liquor – I’m talking Don Julio 1942, which sells for $185 a bottle. There was also a wine bar with tastings poured by the winemaker, and a variety of non-alcoholic drinks. There were snack walls with things like popcorn, chips, and M&Ms, but the real highlight were the passed hors devours. Everything in the Platinum lounge was included in the ticket price.
The food was delicious and there was a lot of it, but I have to knock off a few marks on the overall experience just due to the food.
First, they didn’t have a lot of support for special diets. My husband is gluten and dairy free, and he often had one or two choices out of maybe eight items being passed around.
Second, it took forever to get full when everything was bite-sized and you were waiting for servers to bring around the tray that you want. Sometimes this was nice because we could relax and people watch, but if you were looking to fuel up before a specific show, it got tedious.
There is a dedicated Platinum parking area and parking passes are included in your ticket. Because we are out-of-towners, this didn’t benefit us much but would have been a nice perk for locals. We did quickly realize that it was much faster to enter the venue through the platinum parking area even if we were on foot because there was essentially no line. The general admission line, and even the VIP line, at the main gate was backed up an hour before the doors opened each day, so it was nice to bypass this. We arrived right as the doors opened each day and were never more than 10 people back in line.
The Platinum entrance sets the tone for the day with champagne waiting for you. Golf carts stand at the ready to whisk you from the entrance to the Platinum lounge. While we waited some days for up to 10 minutes for golf cart drivers to arrive, it was still a nice perk. Overall, I’ll give this area a B- because it didn’t always seem well organized.
In addition to the meet and greets, we enjoyed several Platinum-only experiences. There was a daily wine tasting of three premium wines, led by a master sommelier. I’ve done a lot of wine tasting in my day, and while the wines were exceptional, the tables were packed together, the room was loud, and it was not wine tasting at its best.
The organizers of BottleRock know what they’re doing. From start to finish, the festival was well-organized, safe, fun, and full of entertainment for 3 full days. We appreciated the thoughtful touches like sunscreen stations, a spa area, and sublime food and drink. The musical acts were high quality, varied, and there was something for everyone. We look forward to going back next year!
Check out your ticket options and get ready for an epic weekend!