Sonoma Harvest Music Festival revives music tradition at B.R. Cohn Winery

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B.R. Cohn, Sonoma Harvest

B.R. Cohn Winery, site of Sonoma Harvest Music Festival

GLEN ELLEN — After a three-year hiatus, the Sonoma Harvest Music Festival is making a comeback. With the help of B.R. Cohn Winery and BottleRock Presents, this year’s incarnation of the homegrown festival features The Avett Brothers and The Head and The Heart as headliners.

With an intimate setting—at B.R. Cohn Winery in Glenn Ellen—the fest aims to be an “anti-festival,” offering a live music alternative for concertgoers wishing to enjoy the experience without fighting the crowds of a major music festival like BottleRock, said Dave Graham, CEO of Latitude 38 Entertainment and a Partner with BottleRock Presents. It will be held Sept. 22 and 23.

The winery reached out to BottleRock Presents for guidance, and the lineup includes a mix of past BottleRock performers and some newcomers to wine country.

“At the same time, it has to be produced in a way that is in line with the expectations that people have coming to B.R. Cohn,” Graham said.

Organizers were at first uncertain whether people cared enough about another music festival enough to buy tickets, and whether the size and lineup would be in line with their expectations. The uncertainty was squashed immediately as the festival sold out minutes after going on sale.

The Glen Ellen winery had gone without a major live music event for the past three years, following the cancellation of its long running Fall Music Festival, an annual classic rock concert. The original event was founded in the mid-’80s by Doobie Brothers manager and former B.R. Cohn owner Bruce Cohn. After Cohn sold the winery in 2015, the event was initially moved to downtown Sonoma, but was cancelled due to low ticket sales.

Graham said the goal of Sonoma Harvest is to infuse the region’s lifestyle and atmosphere alongside the music. There will be only one stage, and each day the music will stop by 7 p.m., refocusing the festival on music and wine.

The winery, built into a natural grassy amphitheater, can accommodate 3,000 attendees per day. BottleRok has tens of thousands each day. To BottleRock Presents, Sonoma Harvest offered a unique opportunity, Graham said.

“B.R. Cohn and Sonoma Harvest Music Festival, that whole idea felt right, and we jumped on it,” he said.

Following the festival, the promoter will again partner with the Safeway Open golf tournament to stage several concerts. It also runs the JaM Cellars Ballroom in downtown Napa.

“It’s really important for us to bring as much live music as we can out here,” Graham said. “Are we ever going to be Nashville West? No. But it’s a good goal to have, right?”

Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.

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