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nix
09-16-2011, 04:57 PM
Hello. Is there anyone who attended the Wine Country Ukulele Festival 2011 who would be willing to post some kind of trip report? I want to live vicariously and I would love to hear some details - hotels stayed at, concerts enjoyed, jam sessions participated in, descriptions of classes/workshops attended. Pics would be awesome too!

I searched the forums and found some videos but not much describing people's experiences.

Thanks for your consideration...

Nix

Dougf
09-16-2011, 06:50 PM
Here's a link to a thread I started, not sure it's what you're looking for, but it's something. :)

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?53173-my-musical-epiphany-at-WCUF

gyosh
09-16-2011, 09:21 PM
Hi Nix, I attended the WCUF also and actually met Dougf. Hey Doug! I saw this thread when you first posted but being a newbie and this being the first time I attended workshops, I have nothing to compare the experience against (I went to the Oahu Festival, but that's more like a big long show). I can tell you that I stayed in Fairfield at the Hilton Gardens and drove the 20 minutes into Napa each day. Not a big inconvenience and much cheaper than staying closer to the site. I had my family with me so I opted for family time instead of the concerts, but I heard they were excellent. I attended the James Hill and Lil' Rev workshops on Saturday and then on Sunday I went to Steve Espaniola, Aaron Keim and Faith Ako. I thought they were all informative and well worth the time and money. My only "complaint" about my experience would be that the rating system for the classes could have been a little more detailed for better placement. I stuck to the level 1 & 2 courses because I've only been playing for a few months and I found that I probably could have attended some of the other workshops that I avoided out of fear. I mostly practice chord progressions and not too much time in learning songs. I found that I could easily keep up with the songs we played during the workshops and in hindsight, I would have chosen a few different classes. Since I spent the majority of my time in the workshops, I didn't get to see too many of the performers during the day. I really enjoyed talking with Gordon and Char from Mya-Moe (two of the nicest people I've ever met), Tony Graziano, Mike DaSilva, and Ken Middleton. Lori from Ukeleash and her husband were also fun to chat with. All of the instructors were easily approachable as well. One of the highlights for me was getting to meet other UU members. I'm definitely heading back next year, and probably hitting the Reno/Tahoe event and the NorCal event as well (my wife says we're going back to Oahu also). Anyhow, hope this helps a little. If you want to know about a specific workshop let me know. I'm sure a bunch of UU members can chime in also.

Dougf
09-17-2011, 04:28 AM
My experience at the 2011 WCUF was great in so many ways, I could probably write a book about it. :) However, many of the experiences are probably of the sort of that, well, you probably just had to be there.

Anyway, you might try a forum search using "wcuf" as a keyword, and you'd probably get some threads you might've missed before.

nix
09-17-2011, 04:14 PM
Thank you for your replies!

Dougf - I read your epiphany thread with glee when you first posted it. It was great to hear about how much you learn and how an ah-ha can happen at the Festival. I tried searching for wcuf as well as wine country and a couple other things. I guess I'm just greedy and wanted to read more :)

gyosh - Your report is just what I was looking for. I want to go next year and it's nice to hear about a hotel someone was happy with. Also a good tip about workshop levels! Maybe a month or two before the 2012 festival I'll see if I can get a tips and tricks for attending WCUF thread started. Where's the best place to eat, what do you wish you would have brought with you, stuff like that.

Hope everyone gets some playing time in this weekend!

Nix

Lori
09-17-2011, 05:07 PM
Here are a few photos from the Wine Country Uke Fest 2011. This was taken Saturday morning, just after the workshops went into their first session, I believe.

–Lori

gyosh
09-17-2011, 06:29 PM
Thank you for your replies!

Dougf - I read your epiphany thread with glee when you first posted it. It was great to hear about how much you learn and how an ah-ha can happen at the Festival. I tried searching for wcuf as well as wine country and a couple other things. I guess I'm just greedy and wanted to read more :)

gyosh - Your report is just what I was looking for. I want to go next year and it's nice to hear about a hotel someone was happy with. Also a good tip about workshop levels! Maybe a month or two before the 2012 festival I'll see if I can get a tips and tricks for attending WCUF thread started. Where's the best place to eat, what do you wish you would have brought with you, stuff like that.

Hope everyone gets some playing time in this weekend!

Nix

Tips for eating could be a thread in itself. You can go from the French Laundry to McDonalds in that area. Since my wife was off with my son during the day (she's a foodie) I told her to stop at V. Sattui and grab a bit there. She went nuts! I think she spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.00 in food (and my son is only 4 so it's not like he wanted a ton of food :o). When she picked me up at the festival, the whole passenger side of the car was filled with to-go boxes. It was hilarious. It's just a good thing she doesn't drink. I can't imagine how much wine she would have purchased otherwise.

I brought a camera that I didn't use, an iPad that I used between workshops to surf UU or look up info on ukulele's that others had brought and I wish that I would've brought a notebook and a sharpie (to have the various workshop instructors sign their CD's for display in my classroom). I also used the iPad to reflect on the sessions right after they ended knowing that it was a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time and I wouldn't be able to put the info into practice right away. I didn't want to forget what I learned. One of my biggest regrets was not having a UU t-shirt to meet even more members. Hope this additional info helps as well.

-Gary

Dougf
09-18-2011, 06:39 AM
For food, I highly recommend Sunshine Foods in downtown St Helena, right where Pope St meets Main. Napa Valley College, the venue for the event this year, was about a half mile away on Pope Street. My wife and I bought some California rolls for lunch there. We also returned that evening to look for something for a light dinner, and we received the best customer service I think I've had in my life from the two young men working the deli counter.

Sometimes in a place like the Wine Country my wife and I can feel a bit invisible, being a boring middle-aged couple amongst people who seem like they might be Hollywood celebrities or Silicon Valley movers and shakers. Yet during a pretty busy time at the grocery, one of the deli guys asked if we needed help, and when we admitted our indecisiveness, suggested salami and cheese to go with a special bottle of wine we had been saving to help celebrate our 24th anniversary.

He let us taste samples of various grades of salami, and then suggested a special prosciutto that was his favorite. After we tasted it, he told us it was $100 a pound, and we shouldn't feel obligated to buy it, but he could cut it thin, and a few slices would be less that $5 total. He told us it was made from wild boar in Spain that feed mainly on acorns, and it has a unique nutty flavor. We went for it, along with a few slices of the $27 a pound salami.

Then his friend at the deli suggested some cheese that would go well with it, a manchego-like cheese called Campo de Montalban. Of course he offered taste samples, and when we couldn't decide between the Montalban and another similar cheese, he offered to cut the wrapped packages in half so we could buy both for a reasonable price.

Okay, see what happens once you get me started... :)

Lori
09-18-2011, 07:40 AM
We stayed in Calistoga at the Washington Street Lodging (cute little cottages backing onto a woodland riverside). Calistoga is about 7 miles north of St Helena (where the festival is located). We like Calistoga. It's a really pretty little town in a lovely landscape. The day we arrived, we had a fantastic dinner with excellent service at Brannan's Grill (filet mignon with roasted potatoes with lime sauce). My husband had a local wine he absolutely loved. The next night we went to Bosko's Trattoria next door, once again great food and wine and excellent service (pizza and garlic focaccia bread). Both places have a very nice decor as well, and Brannan's had live music. For breakfast, we went to Cafe Sarafornia, and shared a hearty waffle/ bacon/ eggs meal that had to last us until dinner.

Calistoga dining:
BRANNANS GRILL
Bosko's Trattoria
CAFE SARAFORNIA
–Lori

marymac
09-18-2011, 05:18 PM
My partner and I stayed at a funky B&B called Mountain Home Ranch, about 4 miles West of Calistoga. We had a great time there and plan to go back, but it is kind of funky so if you're looking for upscale this isn't the place!

We were in the their lowest priced lodging, a "rustic cabin". They have about 4-6 of the rustics which are basically a one room cabin/shack with a toilet and basin but not a shower. There are a couple shower buildings nearby and each shower is private with an antechamber for dressing. It was kind of like going to summer camp. Included in the lodging price is a full buffet-style breakfast every morning. They had good scrambled eggs with fresh herbs from the garden that's on site, fresh baked pastries (cinnamon rolls, scones etc), lots of fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, dry cereal etc. so we had a nice meal before heading off to play at WCUF each day. The best part about the rustics is that they cost $69/night, including the breakfast for 2. I kid you not - Napa valley lodging for $69.

Besides the rustics the ranch has a lot of cabins, cottages and rooms in the lodge that have a full bath and daily maid service (rustics don't have maid service). The cabins start at $119 and go up to about $175 depending on how many people are staying. Many of the cabins have lots of beds, though not necessarily in separate rooms. it seems ideal for family groups, and they have a lot of retreats there. Other cool things about MHR: they have two pools, one big one up on the hill, and one down by the lodge. They have animals on site that you can visit (2 cows, 4 goats, 2 horses, chickens, cats etc) and they keep a basket of carrots in the dining room that you can use to feed the animals whenever you want. There's lots of hiking you can do right from the ranch and in the lodge they have lots of board games and puzzles to work on. You could set up a puzzle in the downstairs room at the lodge and work on it for a couple days. We loved it.

All of this is not to say that it's ideal. While everything was nice and clean it's also kind of worn. Our cabin could have used a new mattress and the sheets were clean but not brand new or anything. Again - if you like to camp this is fantastic: no tent to set up, a bathroom in the cabin, and someone else does the breakfast dishes. If you are looking for the Hilton - this ain't it. But I'm already hoping/planning to have a family get-together there next spring with some of my relatives who have been looking for a place to go with the kids every year. Joe Bob (mary-mac) says check it out.