This Is How Nashville Does Napa Valley

If there is a better setting for live country music, I’ve never seen it.

The breathtaking grounds of the estate vineyards of the Regusci Winery in Napa, California were the venue for Tuesday night’s (May 14) opening night of the Live in the Vineyard Goes Country annual concert event. So it was a world away from the places you might otherwise find country music.

Instead of stadium seats and plastic bleachers, there were hay bales. Instead of room-temperature cans of beer, there were stemless wine glasses of the winery’s Rose, Chardonnay, and Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of a flashy backdrop and pyrotechnics, there was God’s country, with rolling hills covered in rows and rows of grape vines.

But while the environment was next level, the music — from Walker Hayes, Lanco and Brad Paisley — didn’t stray from its truest country roots.

“How beautiful is this,” Paisley asked me when we caught up before the show. And as for his plan for the intimate crowd? None. “I won’t go out there with a set set list. I don’t have any idea what we’re going to do, until I get there. This isn’t a bad place to try out new music, to tell some stories and then just see what happens.”

In fact, Paisley was 100 percent himself throughout his 13-song set. He shared the view, the music and the laughs with the 500 or so guests gathered at the winery. Early in the set, he recalled someone telling him that high school was always the best years of your life. “I don’t know about you, but for me, high school was not the best years of my life. There were no drunken wine parties on hay bales for me,” he joked to introduce his nod to the not-the-best days of his life, “Letter to Me.”

Ultimately, what Paisley played was exactly the right mix of what the Paisley fans there wanted to hear: “Ticks,” “She’s Everything,” “First Cousins,” “Celebrity,” “Letter to Me,” “This is Country Music,” “My Miracle,” “I’m Still a Guy,” “Mud on the Tires,” “No ’I’ in ’Beer’,” “Then,” “High Life” and “Alcohol.”

Before Paisley took the stage at around 6:00 pm, Walker Hayes was there to open the show, and Lanco took the stage next. Their short set was packed with the string of hits from their debut album — “Hallelujah Nights,” “Born to Love You,” “Greatest Love Story” — and their brand new one, “Rival.”

Stay tuned to and CMT for more from the second night of Live in the Vineyard Goes Country.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.