"The wine area is mobbed. Way busier than last time,” the text message reads. I’m off bridesmaiding in New Jersey, but an enlisted spy keeps me in touch with Red Rock Resort’s second poolside Bottle Rock-It Saturday, a 14-week duet of rock concert and wine tasting ($30, $15 respectively).
Saturday, July 12, 8:51 p.m.
At its heart, any event in Vegas that pairs live rock ’n’ roll with informal wine tasting owes some debt of gratitude to pioneers Chris Hammond and Sonny Barton of Rock ’n’ Roll Wine, who have paved the way for such an event since 2003, right down to the prime hours (7-10 p.m.) and price the market will bear ($30-$45). “I think it’s great that we’ve inspired others to draw attention to wine through live music,” says Hammond. “Our goal has always been to revolutionize the way people approach, perceive and enjoy wine, and the fact that events like this have popped up is a testament to our success and popularity.”
Two weekends into this promotion and the sides are split on the question of “How’d it go?” The July 5 debut, which I took in, was headlined by top-hatted guitarist Slash and cohorts Royston Langdon, Jerry Cantrell and Jason Bonham. It went off smoothly enough but suffered from an acute lack of participants. While it seems natural that an outdoor concert event be launched over Independence Day weekend, in practice, only the event’s planners and about a thousand partiers agreed. But tonight’s door has clicked off, according to two reps, at more than 3,000! While the organizers seem pleased with the 100-plus-percent increase in attendance, some of the staff sound sour. The event is composed of just two elements—rock ’n’ roll and wine. Should anything go wrong with either, the results could be problematic.
8:56 p.m. “Finally got to the wine … And they’re already out of white.” Uh oh. It’s hot out, so it makes sense that the Chardonnay would be the first to go; the only other option is the California Cab (Bandit Wines, retail $8.99). And while the $15 wine upgrade is marketed as a “wine tasting,” it’s really more of a sampling of Bandit’s organic portfolio, poured from eco-friendly Tetra Paks in small plastic cups on the T-Bones patio. But the proceeds do go to the Springs Preserve, so really you’re drinking for a good cause. Tonight, they will reportedly raise more than $4,000.
9 p.m.“The whole event is way, way busier than last time. Everyone’s double-fisting because the bar wait is too long.” I won’t print what he had to say about the wine. I personally found it to be serviceable, but a new wine snob is born with the sale of every copy of Wine for Dummies.
And then, inevitably:
9:25 p.m. “Someone had waaay too much organic wine and fell flat on his face with his girlfriend screaming, ‘I’m so sick of this shit!’” By 9:30 the wine is all gone, so everyone shuffles over to the cash bars by the stage. On opening week, the wine did stretch to 10 p.m. as promised, but tonight, the Springs Preserve finds itself issuing some refunds. Nearly as frustrating, the 9 p.m. concert started at nearly 10 on July 5, and the July 12 concert ended abruptly according to event staff, after only a handful of songs.
With one great week under its belt, and one not-so-great week, Bottle Rock-It will roll on, though changes are already said to be in the works. The event looks to no longer be weekly; indeed, the next Bottle Rock-It is slated for August 9 with headliners UB40 (tickets have been on sale since June 14). But what of the folks who paid $42.50 plus taxes and fees only to find themselves rocking out to “Red Red Wine” alongside a Bandit-sipping local who simply popped into Springs Preserve and picked up free tickets? Ouch.
Also, rumor has it that aside from such concerts, DJs will instead spin rock music on the off weeks. So, will I still go? What do you think?! “Red red wine you make me feel so fine/You keep me rocking all of the time.”