The Wine Bug Rubs Off on Al Stewart’s Axe Men

If you play guitar with folk-rock legend Al Stewart—he of “Year of the Cat” and “Time Passages” fame—for any length of time, chances are you’re going to have a few “wine experiences.”

That’s because Stewart is a wine lover. At the height of his career, when he made the move from the Janus record label to the much more prestigious Arista, the deal was sealed with three cases of 1960s-vintage French wines.

Stewart’s axe man on tour for many years was Peter White, who would go on to become one of the top stars of the “smooth jazz” genre. Although “smooth jazz” has nearly disappeared from terrestrial radio—programmers opting for formats with younger demographics, even if the listening audience is fewer in number—White continues to enjoy a successful career.

In fact, he’s touring as much now as ever, and several of his gigs this year are at wineries. On Saturday, he made his almost-annual appearance at Thornton Winery in Temecula—always a highlight for his loyal fans, since the venue places no curfew on the performance; White is allowed to play as long as he likes.

If you missed that show, do not fear. White has three more winery performances scheduled (so far) this year:

White still occasionally plays with Stewart—a DVD of their May 2011 performance in Carmel-by-the-Sea with a full band is now available—and they’ll be together again in their native England on October 15 when they’ll perform the entire “Year of the Cat” album at Royal Albert Hall in London.

But for most performances these days, Stewart’s traveling guitar mate in Dave Nachmanoff.

In a recent fan newsletter, Nachmanoff noted, “Touring with Al Stewart for some years, I have learned a little bit about wine. But I’m looking forward to learning more with Peter Smith.”

He was referring to an upcoming “wine expedition” in California’s Santa Barbara wine country, which is scheduled for August 23-25. For $645 per person, guests will get:

  • A room for two nights at the historic Santa Maria Inn.
  • Dinner at a boutique winery, plus a concert by Nachmanoff.
  • Lunches, with concerts, at the Cottonwood Canyon and Firestone wineries.
  • Additional stops at the tasting rooms of Andrew Murray, Costa de Oro, Cambria, Foxen and Byron.
  • A song-writing class.
  • A wine class with the aforementioned Peter Smith.

Daily transportation also is included on the “band bus”—a luxury coach provided exclusively for those on the tour.

Click here for further information, and to see if any spots remain. For those unfamiliar with him, I can tell you that Nachmanoff not only knows the Al Stewart songbook inside and out, but is a talented singer/songwriter in his own right.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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