The 2011 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival is on!

Bigger and better than last year with two and a half days of ‘ukulele fun.

Be sure to visit our new website for all the latest information:


 And mark your calendars now:

September 9, 10 & 11, 2011

 St. Helena, California

 “I don’t know how you’re going to top 2009 – but we want to be there!  Thanks for making it happen.”

Where to begin?  There were so many great moments and memories…..and so many wonderful people who made it what it was: sponsors, vendors, performers, instructors, volunteers, and you. 

'Ukulele Bartt, Kaei Gamiao, Brittni Paiva, Moe Dixon, & FreeboThose who made it to the Wine Reception at Gaia on Friday afternoon to see Brittni Paiva perform got way more than they bargained for  when ‘Ukulele Bartt, Kalei Gamiao, Moe Dixon, and Freebo also showed up. Kalei Gamiao is a new face on the mainland ‘ukulele scene and turned many a head. You’ll be hearing a lot more  from him. Many thanks to Gaia Hotel and Spa and sponsors Char and Gordan Mayer from Mya-Moe Ukuleles, who were also on hand with an array of their beautiful ‘ukuleles.

Judd's Hill Hula Party

If there’s one thing Judd knows, it’s how to throw a party–even if he has to move vats full of fermenting grapes to make room in the middle of crush! (That’s Judd on the left.) Many thanks to Judd’s Hill Winery and KoAloha Ukuleles for sponsoring the Judd’s Hill Hula Party, the Friday-night kick-off to a fabulous weekend, and to Doris Coonrad and her crew for an amazing gastronomical array.  And, to top it off, through our Soles4Souls shoe drive at the Judd’s Hill Hula Party and Sonoma Academy, we collected more than 100 pairs of shoes for needy people world-wide!

MusicGuyMicKala Booth by Wei-en RaymondSaturday dawned cool, but  sunny, as vendors started arriving at Beringer Vineyards bright and early to set up the ‘Ukulele Marketplace on the Promenade in front of the Old Stone Winery.  And what a transformation they performed! Imagine an ancient open-air market featuring nothing but ‘ukuleles and you’ll get the idea.  We had everything from the whimsical offerings of Kala (with ‘ukuleles that look like kiwi fruit) to the most beautiful one-of-a-kind creations from expert luthiers. We simply cannot thank Beringer Vineyards enough for opening their beautiful doors so very wide.

Ohana Wa'a OutriggerVendors at Festival by Wei-en RaymondThe Ohana Wa’a Outrigger Canoe Club brought their beautiful canoe, again, and started serving up morning coffee and breakfast goodies right away. (The line for their ono  barbeque didn’t die till they ran out of food in the afternoon.) In the meantime, the puveyers of other Pacific Island goods transformed the fountain courtyard next to the Rhine House into an International Marketplace.

Once everything was in place and ready to go, Liko Puha’s opening chant set the stage for a picture-perfect day.  

“I begin by acknowledging and asking permission of the ancestors of that area to allow our gathering. I proclaim the beauty of the valley, verdant in wine vineyards and famous for hosting visitors. I ask all that have gathered, including the ancestors, to come and enjoy the harmonious sounds of the ʻukulele. Grant life, grant life to all things.”

The Promenade Stage in front of the Old Stone Winery went on to host some of the most amazing talent in the ‘ukulele world today including: Dominator, Freebo, Moe Dixon,  Brittni Paiva, Aldrine Guerrero, Derick Sebastian, Erich Sylvester, Kathy Quain,  Kalei Gamiao, Ukulele Bartt, and many more, under the direction of our fabulous master of ceremonies, Andy Andrews.

DominatorFreebo & Moe Dixon by Wei-enMoe Dixon by Wei-enBrittni Paiva by Wei-EnAldrine 2Derick Sebastian 2Golden Gate Trio 1Golden Gate Trio 2Kalei GamiaoBartt and Andy 2





And that’s not even including what simply happened on the spur of the moment. Here’s Derick Sebastian just “noodling” at the Oceana Ukulele booth:

In the meantime, vendors were doing a hopping business and many a festival visitor walked away from the day with a beautiful new ‘ukulele to take home, including a few who had only come to taste the wine!

Oceana Ukulele

Rick, Gary, and Derick

Char at Mya-Moe

Kala Booth

Ukulele Tanya and MusicGuyMic

Ohana Booth




Old friends met new friends, new friends were made, and people who just happened to be visiting the wine country discovered the smiles the ‘ukulele brings to faces young and old. You could tell who is visiting from Hawai’i….they’re the ones wearing hoodies and down parkas.    

Aldrine, Kalei, and BrittniDa Island Way on the PromenadeBob RaineyAHAmeleAldrinne GuerreroBut even with all that going on up on the Promenade, one of the most happening places at the festival was Kimo’s Korner, on the back porch of the old Rhine House, where Kimo Hussey was on hand to answer questions, sign books, take requests, and kanikapila. He admits, he had the time of his life.

Kimo's Korner

And let’s not forget the amazing workshops offered by James Hill,  Victoria Vox, Steven Espaniola, Derick Sebastian, Aldrine Guerrero, Moe Dixon, ‘Ukulele Bartt, Liko Puha, Dominator, Char & Gordon Mayer, Debbie & Kanoelani Haumea, and the beautiful “classrooms.”  Here’s Brittni Paiva teaching music theory in the Rhine House kitchen and Ralph Shaw teaching strumming techniques out by the Bocce Courts.  Brittni's Workshop Ralph Shaw's Workshop by the Bocce Courts





Kawika Tachera & Liko Puha

And those with a little time on their hands could always venture on down to the UkeTube Booth, so generously sponsored by Kala Brand Ukuleles and  JVC Electronics and graciously hosted by David Tachera and family.  (Be sure to visit our YouTube Channel to see more.) Nothing but smiles all around:


In the meantime, folks started claiming their turf on the lawn in front of the Rhine House in anticipation of the free afternoon concert featuring Steven Espaniola, Faith Ako, Ralph Shaw, Victoria Vox, and James Hill.
Rhine House Concert Seating
This was singer/songwriter Victoria Vox’s  first year at the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, and she won hearts everywhere she went.  Here’s “Peeping Tomette” featuring Victoria Vox and her amazing mouth trumpet:
And, of course, James Hill, the most innovative musician on the ‘ukulele scene today, closed the show with something new and wonderful, just for us.  Here’s  the grand finale to the day at Beringer Vineyards with James Hill, Victoria Vox,  Ralph Shaw, and “Billie Jean.”
This might have been the end to a perfect day…….but it just kept getting better.  From Beringer Vineyards our stalwart crew made their way to Flora Springs for the Flora Springs Harvest Party and Luau–Napa Valley Style. 
Stay tuned….there’s more to come….

Magical Moments

For those of you who missed it, here are just a few of the magical moments captured at the 2009 Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, held at Beringer Vineyards, Saturday October 10:


But that was just the beginning.  Here’s Wine Country’s Faith Ako, who could not resist singing in the caves as she was leaving the luau later that evening at Flora Springs:


It was an amazing weekend and we’ll post more photos and videos as they come in.  In the meantime,  we have a winner for the  You Tube commercial contestOoh, Ahh, Wow!, submitted by James Latimer from Clarkston, Michigan.  It, we thought, did the best job of conveying everything we had to offer.  However, it was the unanimous decision of the judges that To St. Helena, submitted by Steven Diaz from Inverness, Florida,  also deserved special recognition.  And  so, we will also be sending Steven a brand new Kala soprano travel ukulele and hope he’ll be able to make it all the way to St. Helena in time for next year’s 3rd annual Wine Country Ukulele Festival.  Special thanks go to MusicGuyMic,  Kala Ukuleles, and all the contestants for their inspired contributions.  

More to come……..

Saturday October 10, 2009

Beringer Vineyards, 2000 Main Street, St. Helena, California

Free and Open to the Public

(‘Ukulele Festival parking is available at the Beringer production facility off of Pratt Avenue.  There will be a free shuttle to the winery)

Appearing on the Rhine House Stage from 2:00 – 5:00 pm:

Steven Espaniola * Faith Ako * Ralph Shaw * Victoria Vox * James Hill

Lawn seating only, please bring a blanket to sit on


Appearing on the Promenade Stage from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm:

Arial Paisley * Ukulele Bartt * Derick Sebastian * Calistoga Flea Band * Taylor de Man * Victor Ohana * David Bustamante & Da Island Way *Dominator * Moe Dixon * Aldrine Guerrero * Golden Gate Trio * Kimo Hussey * Kalei Gamiao * Brittni Paiva * AHAmele * Linnea & Alex

International Marketplace open from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

 Food!  Gifts!  Ukuleles!

30-minute lessons available for the curious

 Online Registration for Hula & Ukulele Workshops still open

Pre-register for

Judd’s Hill Hula Party

Flora Springs Luau

Cameo ‘Ukulele Film Festival 

Sunday October 11, 2009

Appearing at Beringer Vineyards from noon – 5:00 pm:


Please join us and prepare to be amazed. 

We’ve come a long way since Tiny Tim!

elvis_blue_hawaiiElvis is one of the few people who will not coming to the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival, but you will be able to catch him on the silver screen for the first ever Wine Country ‘Ukulele Film Festival, Sunday, October 11, at 1:30 pm at the award winning Cameo Cinema in St. Helena.  Ralph Shaw will be hosting the show and will loosen you up with a few bright numbers in anticipation of our guest performers: the dancers of Hiva Nui and Uncle Mike Keale, cousin of the late, great Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“IZ” of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” fame) and nephew of award-winning traditional Hawaiian music vocalist, Moe Keale.  michael-keale-9196-500x463Mike Keale is an important Hawaiian music performer in his own right and has kept his family’s Hawaiian music legacy alive performing at prestigious Waikiki venues such as the historic Royal Hawaiian and Moana Hotels, the Prince Kuhio Hotel, and the Marriott Waikiki’s Moana Terrace Lounge.  This alone would be well worth the price of admission (only $10), but there’s also the movie, that wonderful classic, “Blue Hawai’i.”  ‘Ukuleles are not required, but if you have one, bring it along and strum-a-long with Elvis as he “rocks a hula baby” with you. What a perfect way to close out a truly wonderful weekend.

And while you’re here, don’t forget to check out the latest entries in the YouTube Commercial contest.


This is the  latest entry in our YouTube Commercial contest, entered by (you may have guessed it) Ukulele Bartt. Is it going to be the last?  There are still a few days left.  So get your entry in, get folks to watch, and make yourself eligible to win the new Kala from MusicGuyMic.

Important Festival Updates

The workshop schedule has now been posted.  If you haven’t registered already, surely there’s something there that strikes your fancy, and you will send in your registration, soon. Speaking of registration, the latest winner in our “early bird” drawing is Sharon Paltin, who will be receiving a gift certificate for a tour and tasting for four to Vine Cliff Winery in Napa. Congratulations, Sharon.  Next week’s prize is dinner for two at Market in St. Helena, so get your registration in now to be included. After that, there will only be one more!

Liko Puha If you’re coming to the festival, there are a few changes you need to be aware of.  Liko Puha will, indeed, be opening the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival at Beringer Vineyards on Saturday, October 10,  at 10:00 am with a Hawaiian chant. We hope you will plan on joining us for this lovely tradition that will set the stage for all that the day has to offer.  Workshops will commence at 10:15.  A little later in the morning, Liko will be teaching one or two Hawaiian songs on the ‘ukulele, focussing on correct pronunciation–very important if don’t want to sound like a complete dodo.  However, he will not be available to teach ‘Auana Hula. Fortunately, with the addition of  Debbie Haumea Aynaga we are still able to offer traditional hula for beginners. Please see the Workshop listings for more information.

Flora Springs Luau

Da Island Way

Steven EspaniolaFaith AkoMichelle


Registration for the Flora Springs Lu’au is now available online. The cost is $55 for Wine Club Members and Workshop Pass holders and $65 for all other adults.  What a great way to end the day!  David Bustamante and the dancers of Da Island Way will be there to greet you at the entrance to the caves and you will emerge to a beautiful view of the Napa Valley at sunset. There will be food and wine a plenty while you are serenaded by Steven Espaniola and Faith Ako. Then it will be time to put on your dancing shoes and get ready to party with  Michelle Kiba and the Tiki Tones.  And, just in case you didn’t pick up the perfect ‘ukulele while you were at the festival, our gracious ‘ukulele sponsor for this event, MusicGuyMic, will be there to help you find just what you’re looking for. And there’s even more, but we wouldn’t want to tell  you EVERYTHING.

Sunday School

James_Hill_Photo_5pageKimo_amp_DeVineWe have a few spaces left in “Sunday School” at Miner Family Vineyards and a new guest ‘ukulele-ist for the venue. Kimo Hussey will be joining James Hill in the caves for this unique event pairing food, wine, and ‘ukulele.  

We’re not quite sure what the two of them are going to come up with, but we do know it will be stellar.  Meanwhile,  Natalie Niksa of La Saison is busy coming up with the menu and  it is a great time to acknowledge the generous contribution that Miner Family Vineyards is making to the festival. Even if you’re not going to make it to the Sunday School, you should stop by, taste a little wine, and let them know how much you appreciate their participation.  They are located on the Silverado Trail in Oakville, right on your way to or from the festival. As I said, we do have a few spots left, so you should act fast if you’d like to join us there.

 Sponsor Update

KoAloha_Film_SMLWe are very fortunate to have two, new sponsors joining us.  KoAloha Ukulele has taken on the role of sponsoring the Friday night Judd’s Hill Hula Party, so  those attending will have an opportunity to win one of their lovely ‘ukuleles and see a sneak preview of  “The KoAloha ‘Ukulele Story,” in addition to all the other wonderful things we have planned: music by the Maika’i Gents, party hula with Michelle Kiba, shoes for Soles4Souls, “The Hukilau” parody contest, and more.  Thank you, KoAloha.

Girl in HatAnd Hawaiian Airlines has just donated two round-trip tickets to Hawai’i, which we will be giving away at the festival. Remember, if you book your ticket through the link on our website, you will not only save 5% on their lowest internet fare, but you will also be helping us continue to bring you wonderful musical talent from Hawai’i.


Just a reminder, the International Marketplace will be in full swing at Beringer Vineyards,  Saturday, October 10, from 10 am – 5 pm. It could be a very long time before you ever see that many ukuleles in one place, at one time again.


We have built it.  Now we just need everyone to come.  Please help us spread the word.  And while you’re at it, please be sure to check out KAPU 104.7.

Subscribe, please 

As we get closer and closer to the date, its more important than ever that you please take a moment to subscribe to this web log.  It really is the most efficient way for us to get important information to you in a timely fashion….especially if you’re planning on attending.

See you soon.


Ooh, Ahh, Wow!

This is the first entry in our “WCUF YouTube Commercial” contest, sponsored by MusicGuyMic. Ooh! Ahh! Wow!  The deadline is September 25, so you still have time to enter one of your own for an opportunity to win a brand new Kala ‘ukulele. (See the previous post for more information.) And please feel free to pass this video along.


CuvaisonJean Miller is the latest winner in our “early bird” sweepstakes and has won a gift certificate for a tasting for four to  Cuvaison Estate Wines.  She’ll also take home a bottle of their Chardonnay Carneros.  We’ll pull another name out of the hat this Saturday afternoon, so if you haven’t done so already, be sure to get your registration in ASAP. 

Workshop Update

 We have three new instructors and three new workshops to add to our line-up.  Ukulele Bartt will be joining us from Southern California to teach “Liverpool Luau – Beatles for Beginners”  and Kumu Debbie Haumea Aynaga will be coming over from Stockton to teach  Hula ‘Auana: “E Pili Mai,”   a lovely introduction to beginning, traditional Hawaiian hula.  You can read more about Bartt and Debbie and their workshops on our Instructors  (formerly “Musician’s”) and Workshop pages.  Aldrinne Guerrero will also be teaching a workshop for us, and we’ll let you know what it will be soon.  If you follow the Ukulele Underground  at all, you know it will be worth waiting for.

Ohana Promenade Stage

Louis Wu and Ohana ‘Ukuleles   have been generous supporters of the Wine Country ‘Ukulele Festival from the beginning, and I am delighted to announce that this year they will be sponsoring the Promenade Stage, featuring live music at Beringer Vineyards, Saturday, October 10, from 10:00 am until we close at 5:00 pm.  Paul Knight Sound will be covering both this and the Rhine House Stage to ensure a great experience for everyone. Here’s just a sample of who will be performing on the Promenade Stage during the day:  Kimo Hussey, Brittni Paiva, Derick Sebastian, Aldrinne Guerrero, Dominator, Erich Sylvester, Victor ‘Ohana, Templebar Royal Hawaiian Ukulele Band, Ukulele Bartt, Da Island Way, AHAmele, and more.  Mike DaSilva, our on call ‘Ukulele Doctor, will be manning Ohana’s booth, so please take a moment to stop by and ask him to let Louis know how much we appreciate his contribution. Better yet, pick up an extra ukulele to give as a gift to a special someone…maybe even yourself. Mike will also be able to help with any minor repairs to your ‘ukulele while you’re at the festival.