Ever wonder what the Summer of Love would look like if it happened now, in Wine Country, with the current generation?
If you squint a little, the Huichica Music Festival might come close, transporting festival goers into a hazy summer day, complete with lawns, picnic blankets and flower children. Of course, it's also held at one of the most scenic winery venues around, the modern day upgrades include amazing local wine, farm-to-table foodie delights, and an Instagram-ready vineyard view.
Where other festivals focus exclusively on young acts and dance parties, Huichica (pronounced “we-CHEE-ka) offers a laid back feel and family-friendly vibe, more block party than house party. Founded by founded by Jeff Bundschu and musician Eric D. Johnson of the band Fruit Bats, Huichica was constructed “with the concept that wine, food, and music are best shared in beautiful, intimate settings with a warm and friendly attitude.” It’s a theory which shines through with every aspect of the festival, now in its ninth year.
A collaboration between (((FolkYEAH!))) and Gundlach Bundschu Winery, the two-day “family-friendly boutique festival” takes place on June 8 and 9, bringing more than 30 artists over four stages for a hand-picked lineup celebrating folk, indie and psychedelic music. Cozy vibes and plenty of space surround a line-up full of national and regional acts, a nice alternative to overpopulated shindigs like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.
The festival’s biggest stage, the Hillside Amphitheater, offers a dazzling view of the skyline as the sun sets and acts perform on against a rural backdrop. The grassy field in front of it makes the perfect place to spread a blanket and enjoy the show. The venue’s historic Old Redwood Barn also offers another charming setting to catch music, with a permanent stage reminding festival goers the 160-year-old winery doubles as a hot spot for musicians year round.
No Wine Country festival would be complete without locally sourced cuisine, and Huichica is also a foodies delight. With Bodega Bay Oyster Company on hand, and Q Craft southern BBQ aroma in the air, concertgoers also get to chow down on some of the Bay Area’s most scrumptious foods. Key highlights include Bay Area band Vetiver performing “Thing of the Past” for the album’s 10-year anniversary, Cocker Power which includes an all-star assembly of San Fransisco musicians playing in memory of Joe Cocker, and Fruit Bats featuring the festivals co-creator Eric D. Johnson.
Best of all, unlike most festivals, kids 12-and-under get in for free and the winery offers free parking for carpools of three or more people.
This year’s full lineup includes: Wooden Shjips, Jonathan Richman, Fruit Bats, King Tuff, Vetiver, Iceage, Bitchin Bajas, Acetone, Rodrigo Amarante, Howlin’ Rain, Steve Gunn, Linda Perhacs, The Fresh & Onlys, Shannon Lay, Sonny Smith, Once & Future Band, Hand Habits, Cut Worms, Kyle Craft, Lia Ices, Chris Cohen, Amo Amo, Cosmic Twang, Extra Classic, Credit Electric, Springtime Carnivore, Mary Lattimore, The Deep Dark Woods, Cocker Power, Leon Russell and Calvin Keys.
WHERE THE MUSIC IS HIP
What: Huichica Music Festival
When: 2 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, June 8-9.
Where: Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark st., Sonoma.
Admission: $46- $121