Starting at 7 p.m. on June 10, Applebutter Soul will perform in the first Starry Nights concert since 2019 at Veritas Vineyard & Winery.
When the popular summer concert series resumes after its pandemic hiatus with the Lynchburg-based band’s blend of soul, funk, jazz, Motown and rhythm and blues stylings, the Afton winery expects to welcome 1,500 to 2,000 listeners, which is "about half of what it was prior to the pandemic," said George Hodson, CEO of Veritas.
Also coming up on the concert schedule, which is presented by Hot 101.9, will be the country and Western sounds of the Wil Gravatt Band on July 8 and the pop and rock anthems of the Significant Others on Aug. 12. Gates open at 6 p.m., with bands playing from 7 to 11 p.m.
Audience members can expect expanded food offerings, a comfortable new brick patio area for buffet dining and the laid-back listening environment crowds expect, Hodson said.
The series offers different dining options. Table service will be offered on the deck for those who’d prefer a chef-prepared meal, Hodson said, and a catered buffet dinner will be available on the brick patio. A DIY choice that has been popular with families over the years allows guests to pack their own picnics to enjoy on the lawn.
"People can bring their own picnics," he said. "We’ve always been amazed by the creativity of what they bring in."
The number of picnic tables has tripled, and there is plenty of room for young children to play.
"I think that has been the success of it," Hodson said. "Families can come and have a great time."
The admission process has been streamlined. "We definitely encourage people to make reservations ahead of time, so they can just be scanned in," Hodson said.
The summer series started on a much smaller scale in 2007.
"Starry Nights started as essentially a Wine Club pickup party," Hodson said. "It used to be a much smaller operation. We rolled out some tables and had someone playing guitar in the corner."
One thing at Starry Nights hasn’t changed over the years.
"We just continuously offer our great wines," Hodson said.
Admission is $30, $25 in advance, and tickets for ages 10 to 16 are $15. Children younger than 10 get in for free. Wine Club members get two complimentary general-admission tickets.
Meals are offered for an additional price. The plated-dinner option, which is $78, is sold out for the June 10 opener; it includes a three-course meal on the covered deck. The buffet dinner is $26 and includes seating at a table on the lawn.
Service animals are permitted at the rain-or-shine event, but pets are not. For information, go to veritas wines.com.