Wineries to pair up for tasting

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A pair of Walla Walla wineries will share a new tasting room in downtown Walla Walla.

The owners of James Leigh Cellars and Plumb Winery are renovating the space at 9 First Ave., the former site of Wildberries! cafe. The tentative opening date is Sept. 1.

Vintner Lynne Chamberlain operates her James Leigh Cellars at Cessna and B streets at the Walla Walla Regional Airport industrial park. There she features two labels -- JLC and Spofford Station wines. Chamberlain, who comes from a third-generation Walla Walla ranch and farm family, was a charter student in Walla Walla Community College's Institute for Enology & Viticulture. She is president of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Her wines have received 90-plus ratings from Wine Enthusiast. More details about the winery are available at: www.jamesleighcellars.com.

The opening of the downtown space will be the first tasting room for co-founders of Plumb Cellars, Margo and Gary Kagels, Edie and Dale Johnson, Crandall Kyle, Chip Madsen, Taylor Sokolowski and Meagan and Judah Anderson-Pira.

The group, whose winery is located at 2301 Russell Creek Road, has roots in construction and interior design. That's where the name "Plumb" comes from. According to the announcement about the tasting room, one of the plumbing professionals in the group insisted the vineyard stakes be plumbed "damn straight." Hence the group's flagship red blend: Damn Straight 2006.

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The Walla Walla Asset Building Coalition is preparing for its third year working with low-income and working families thanks to a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Nonprofit community action agency Blue Mountain Action Council, which has administered the funds for the program, has been awarded $30,000 to expand the asset building coalition and its activities.

The coalition's "impressive accomplishments" over the last year were lauded by the Department of Commerce, according to an announcement on the grant. The organization, coordinated and led by consultant Noah Leavitt, works with low-income and working families on saving and financial planning for the future. Initiatives focused on the Latino community and youth education were among the accomplishments over the last year.

Walla Walla was among 20 communities to receive funding across the state, but one of only a few that got an increase in its financial support, said BMAC CEO Steve Moss, in the announcement.

Coalition members include banks and credit unions, housing and social service organizations, United Way, community action agencies, debt and credit counseling groups and other public and private entities.

Participants learn the value of saving, establishing a bank account and using the federal Earned Income Tax Credit that provides savings on their taxes.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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