Counting Down to ‘Good Life’ Wine Concert

Saxophone Jazz Musical InstrumentsI am in countdown mode.

Am week from Sunday, my lovely bride and I will be heading to Southern California’s beautiful Temecula wine country for a late-afternoon concert at Thornton Winery.

My favorite “smooth jazz” guitarist will be playing, along with my favorite “smooth jazz” saxophone player. Those would be Messrs. Peter White and Richard Elliot.

I have seen White play so many times in so many venues through the years that my daughter has labeled me a “Peter White stalker.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment, considering I saw him for the first time in 1978 when he was a member of Al Stewart’s band on Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” tour.

Whether in a supporting role in a band, as Stewart’s partner in a duo, or as the leader of his own band, White has always stood out as a consummate professional, one who gives his fans everything he has and then some. And after every performance, he sticks around to sign CDs, pose for photos or simply chat with his fans.

I haven’t seen Elliot play nearly as often, but I do recall one memorable concert at a winery in Paso Robles, Calif. many, many years ago. The estate had something of a natural amphitheater between its production building and vineyard, so guests could bring blankets and lawn chairs, and soak in the sounds while sipping wine and picnic fare provided by the winery. There was no extra charge for the stunning sunset.

At Thornton Winery, the “Gourmet Supper Package” we’ll be enjoying is a little more formal (and a lot more expensive!), but it’s always expertly prepared. This time, we’ll be enjoying this three-course meal:

* Champagne Salad — Spring mixed greens, pecans, tomato, blue cheese and champagne vinaigrette.

* Short Ribs — Crispy onions, mashed potato, chef’s vegetable and red wine demi.

* Coppa Mascarpone — Chocolate cream, amaretto and cookie crumbs.

The night before, I’ll go online to Thornton’s website and figure out what kind of wine we’ll order to accompany the meal.

And then as the servers clear the tables and refill the wine glasses, we’ll sit back, relax and soak in some of the most beautiful sounds one can enjoy.

Good food. Good wine. Great music. That’s my definition of the good life.

* On a more somber note, all of us at Vinesse send good thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

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