Blue Rodeo

Blue Rodeo performs in a sold-out show at Mission Hill Family Estate's outdoor amphitheatre on Wednesday night.

It was a triumphant return to live music — a post-pandemic party, born of pent-up demand — at Mission Hill Family Estate in West Kelowna.

Who better to kick off the winery's summer concert series, after a two-year COVID-caused hiatus, than big-name Canadian country-rock band Blue Rodeo?

Lead singer Jim Cuddy and company played a non-stop, two-hour show in the winery's outdoor amphitheatre Wednesday night to a sold-out crowd of 800.

The audience was appreciative and Cuddy reciprocated by singing all the band’s hits and encouraging people to sing along and come up in front of the stage to dance.

Those hits, of course, included Til I Am Myself Again, Head Over Heels and Rain Down on Me.

The band teased the crowd, saving its most famous song — Try — for the encore.

Concert goers treated the evening as a long-awaited social mixer, as they did a music performance.

Many arrived early for the 7:30 p.m. concert to grab a glass of wine and mingle. 

Others preceded the concert with a picnic on winery grounds or dinner at the Terrace restaurant, Chagall Room or loggia long table.

The long-table dinner included welcome bubblies (Mission Hill Exhilaration Brut Rose), tomato and bocconcini salad paired with Jagged Rock Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon and beef tenderloin with red blend Quatrain.

Mission Hill has three other concerts on tap this summer — country star Dan Brody on July 28 (tickets on sale now), country-R&B singer Johnny Reid on July 29 (sold out) and jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and friends on Aug. 30 (some tickets still available).

Tickets at MissionHillWinery.com.

Mission Hill's sister winery, CedarCreek in Kelowna, also has concerts this season. On July 20 indie rocker Tim Baker takes to the stage and on Aug. 17 it’s blues guitarist and singer Matt Anderson.

Ticket information at CedarCreek.bc.ca.

Jim Cuddy coming back for another show

Cuddy will be back in the Okanagan, somewhat solo, on July 29 for a concert at Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards.

Cuddy will perform on the winery's outdoor crush deck with Blue Rodeo guitarist Colin Cripps and genre-defying violinist Anne Lindsay.

Concert starts at 7:30 pm and Cuddy will play until the sun sets.

Tickets are $145 for the concert or $295 for concert and three-course, wine-paired dinner prior at 19Bistro@Fitz.

Fitzpatrick touts itself as having the most stunning of winery concert venues right on the cliff-top crush deck with a 180-degree, backdrop view

of vineyards, Okanagan Lake and mountains.

Fitzpatrick is also a sparkling wine house, so concert goers will surely want to enjoy the show while sipping bubbly.

Fitzpatrick's signature Champagne-method sparkler is the 2017 Fitz Brut ($33.50 a bottle, retail price) and its higher-tier bubbly is the 2018 Blancs de Blanc, made of 100% Chardonnay grapes, which retails for $44.50 a bottle.

Talented and versatile winemaker Sarah Bain also makes a line up of still wines for Fitzpatrick:

— 2021 The Lookout Riesling ($19.50)

— The Elusive Pinot Noir 2020 ($28.50)

— 2021 Interloper Gewurztraminer ($19.50)

— Big Leap Chardonnay 2020 ($24.50)

— 2021 Pink Mile Rose ($22.50)

— Sudden Inversion Red Meritage 2019 ($29.50)

— 2021 Runabout White ($17.50)

Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover and Canadian Wine Scholar. Email: steve.macnaull@ok.bc.ca.