Perambulation of the oenophiles

February 4, 2014

By David Hayes

Downtown wine walk returns for third season

One of the Downtown Issaquah Association’s main goals is getting more people to enjoy activities in the downtown corridor.

The association hit upon an idea that has grown in popularity and returns for its third season Feb. 7 — the Wine Walk Series.

By Greg Farrar Wine steward Troy Etley (left) pours a Columbia Valley merlot from Lodmell Cellars for local Issaquah resident Dan Menser in 2012, as visitors on Front Street enjoyed wine tastings, snacks and live music during the Downtown Issaquah Association’s inaugural Wine Walk. The annual event is now in its third year.

By Greg Farrar
Wine steward Troy Etley (left) pours a Columbia Valley merlot from Lodmell Cellars for local Issaquah resident Dan Menser in 2012, as visitors on Front Street enjoyed wine tastings, snacks and live music during the Downtown Issaquah Association’s inaugural Wine Walk. The annual event is now in its third year.

The formula takes equal parts wine tastings, arts and crafts demonstrations and live music and blends them together for an adults-only crowd. DIA Executive Director Karen Donovan said the combination has proven to be a success, filling a need in a section of the calendar left neglected in the past.

“The Wine Walk Series is so popular because people enjoy getting out to downtown after months of being shut in for the winter,” she said.

New venues, more wineries and additional live musical performances have been added.

The event continues for the next four months, on the first Friday of each month. The Downtown Issaquah Association works with companies to pair the city with regional vintners and hors d’oeuvres. Participants are encouraged to bring their own wine glasses.

“People have really gotten into the fun of it, bringing fun glasses they’ve personalized,” Donovan said. “They’re getting into the whole scene of it.”

She added that plastic cups can be obtained in a pinch.

Local merchants keep their doors open late into the night, offering stops along the route for people to have 10 one-ounce drinks. The locations this year have expanded to include artbyfire Glass Blowing Studio, Illuminate, artEAST Art Center, First Stage, Village Theatre, Fischer Meats, CoHo Computers, U Swirl, Chicago Pastrami, Eastside Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.

Front Street shops and restaurants are open to the general public during Wine Walk, and all ages are welcome to the locations.

Donovan said region wineries are flocking to participate. This year’s event will showcase Bunnell Family Cellar, Cedar River Cellars, Echo Ridge Cellars, Genoa Cellars, Patterson Cellars, Piccola Cellars, Smasne Cellars, Sol Stone and Van Camp Cellars.

Donovan said while similar to its springtime activity ArtWalk, she has heard that wine walk has gained in popularity because it is geared to a more adult crowd.

Another difference is the entertainment is more introspective, with solo and duo acts. Performing this year are:

  • Travis Harnett Trio — a seamless blend of sounds and material resulting in a jazzy mix of guitar-driven instrumentals.
  • Ali Marcus — Featuring a box full of harmonicas, Marcus’ music brings a dose of bluesy country to the act featured on NPR, XM radio stations, in the pages of The New York Times and venues throughout America.
  • Spoonshine — an acoustic, bluegrass duo, featuring virtuosic mandolin/guitar and exceptional harmonies.
  • Open mic night at Mills Music. Donovan strongly suggests signing up in advance by calling Don at 392-1000, although walk-ins will be welcome.

For a feast for the eyes, artEAST offers a two-fer. Come to see master glass blower Lenoard Whitfield share his collection of hand-blown glass and demonstrate the glass-blowing process. Then, stay to explore the gallery for unique, and one-of-a-kind items, including sculptures, wall décor, jewelry and more.

Additionally, Eastside Writes, a new community-based literary arts organization, has partnered with artEAST to present “Undercover Stories: The Secret Lives of Books” as well as poetry readings, featuring poet Matthew Rowe.

The event will go on no matter the weather. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 the day of the event and include 10 one-ounce drink tokens. Donovan said more than 400 people showed up at each event last year and she expects just as sizable a crowd this go around.

Other features to keep in mind for the wine walk include:

  • Check-in starts at 6 p.m. at the Hailstone Feed Store (the historic Shell Station), 232 Front St. N.
  • You must be 21 to purchase wine-tasting tickets.
  • Will call for pre-paid tickets requires identification for the name under which tickets were purchased.
  • Maps of tasting locations, plastic wine glass, tokens and wristband will be provided at check-in.
  • Take a bottle of wine home from the tastings, available for purchase at the Hailstone Feed Store.

 

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