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Memorial Day Getaway
Wine, Bluegrass & Scenic Northern Arizona

By Dave Cooper

The breadth of Arizona’s beautiful landscape is wondrous and wide. Exotic destinations throughout our home state are just a few hours away. Chino Valley, the first Territorial Capital of Arizona, is one such destination. On Memorial Day weekend, May 28 & 29, Chino Valley's Granite Creek Vineyards hosts their First Annual Bluegrass Festival. “This is our first music festival and we are very excited.” Granite Creek Vineyards First Annual Bluegrass Festival event coordinator and art director Heather Bamberg said.

Granite Creek Vineyards Granite Creek Vineyards is located about 3 hours north of Phoenix in Chino Valley, just outside Prescott. You'll enjoy a temperate climate amid spectacular northern Arizona scenery at this celebration of music, wine tasting and fine cuisine. The festival features a lineup of talented Arizona musicians performing bluegrass and folk-rock in Granite Creek’s new music venue, the Heritage Barn. The Heritage Barn was recently transformed from a 1916 dairy barn into a more contemporary setting for enjoying live music and food. It boasts a “cute little wine tasting area (bar) inside the barn,” according to Bamberg.

Opening the festivities Saturday morning at 11:30, the First Annual Bluegrass Festival features David, Dallas and Ines. Flagstaff based singer and songwriter Dave McGraw, who plays with the band Crow Wing, will spread his wings and perform in a duo with Mandy Ferrarini at 2:00 pm. Closing out Saturday afternoon's musical schedule from 4:30 to 6:30 will be Nolan McKelvey and Muskellunge, also from Flagstaff.

McKelvey has played at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and shared stages with Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Jack Johnson and Los Lobos among other notables. Muskellunge was three-time winner of Flagstaff’s best band competition. McKelvey has twice been named FlagLive! magazine's Best Songwriter. He also won Best Musician in the 2010 Flagstaff Daily Sun Reader's Poll.

Sunday morning's music fires up again at 11:30 with Prescott, AZ band Just 4 Mama, with a 3-hour set of what they refer to as “back porch pickin’.” Just 4 Mama features two generations of fine talent from the Davis family: Jim, Christina, Hilary and Chloey Davis. All the band members are multi-instrumentalists. Closing out this two-day celebration of bluegrass sound will be Hurt County, performing at the Heritage Barn from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.

Bamberg explained how the idea for this crowd pleasing event began: “Year round, we play host to talented musicians on Saturday afternoons," she said. It is more than a music festival. "This year, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our historic estate, we are hosting two days of talented bluegrass musicians from around Arizona.”

Adding to the lore of this event, Bamberg painted an enticing word picture. “Mature trees and large lawns surround our 100-year-old estate. We have lots of flowers around in the warm season, and a resident flock of peacocks who wander around the estate at all times. The males put on quite a show this time of year!”

In addition to top-flight music, Granite Creek Vineyards will display and serve some of its finest, award-winning red, white, and dessert wines throughout the festival. A select menu prepared by on-site Block Six Catering will provide food during this weekend’s activities. They will feature delicious treats with garlic bread and a variety of salads. Grilled kebob skewers of Caribbean-Spiced Swordfish and Lemon-Rosemary Chicken will be available, along with steak and vegetarian kebobs. There will be plenty of sweet-tasting desserts on hand.

To learn more about admission and wine tasting, also directions and more about Granite Creek Vineyards, please visit http://www.granitecreekvineyards.com/.