Downtown tasting rooms to offer pre-Valentine's singles event Friday

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A cluster of wineries is preparing for an un-Valentine's celebration.

Five downtown tasting rooms will host guests for a pre-Valentine's Day event for singles. The event runs 5-10 p.m. Friday. Participants pay $5 for a tasting card that covers fees at all five participating wineries: Plumb Cellars and Mansion Creek Cellars, 9 S. First Ave.; Sinclair Estate Vineyards, 109 E. Main St.; DaMa Wine, 45 E. Main St.; and Fort Walla Walla Cellars, 127 E. Main St.

The tasting cards will be available for purchase at each place, so guests can start their evening at any of the participating tasting rooms.

Each winery will pour two wines from 5 to 8 p.m. After tasting, guests are encouraged to move to the next tasting room for another two wines.

Hosts at each winery will stamp the tasting cards. Starting at 7 p.m. live music will be provided by Mike Wagner at Sinclair Estate. Music and dancing will run there until 10 p.m.

Those who bring their tasting cards to that tasting room at the end with all five winery stamps will be entered into a drawing for prizes, which will be announced throughout the evening.

Prizes include chocolates, box lunches with complimentary wine tastings from each winery, a basket with wine from all five wineries, a free carriage ride and others.

Organizers say the hope is to provide a light-hearted evening of entertainment for singles at a time traditionally dedicated to couples.

•••

Plans for a new Beehive location are in bloom.

The downtown Walla Walla salon will be moving into a new spot on Main Street this year, said Kate McCaw, owner in the family business.

The transition is a big one, considering The Beehive Cut and Color Bar has been in its current location above Starbucks for more than 10 years and even chose its name as an homage to the bygone era of a once popular general store that operated for generations in the same building at First Avenue and Main Street.

McCaw said the spot has served the business well, and that property owner Maureen Walsh has "become a great friend."

However, she added, the needs of clients has prompted the change. "We have had problems with client parking, as well as the stairs to our second-story location ..." she said in an email.

The new location will be 126 E. Main St., next door to Public House 124. "It is a beautiful space, a larger space, that will allow us to spread out and offer things we haven't been able to offer in the past," McCaw said.

What services will that include? More details are sure to come. "The beauty industry is an ever-changing, always evolving one, and The Beehive is committed to do the same," McCaw said.

She said the transition is expected to be complete this June.

And if you're wracking your brain about what The Beehive might be replacing, wonder no longer.

The new spot on Main Street is currently occupied by downtown clothing retailer Forward, which is preparing for a move of its own.

Owner Dana Rubenser Budden announced in a recent advertisement that the store is moving a hop, skip and a jump west to the Whiteside Building at 51 E. Main St.

The building, owned by Ron and Dana Dunning, is in the process of a major renovation after several years of emptiness. According to the ad, Forward's expects to open there March 7.

The store will continue to carry its selection of fashion-forward brand names, including Miss Me's, LA Idol Jeans, Rock Revival and BigStar. Onsite alterations also continue to be offered.

•••

A longtime marketing professional whose career has taken him all over the globe will return to his home state as executive director of the Washington Wine Commission.

Steve Warner has been named to the organization's top position after an international search, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

"We are very excited that the industry has come together unanimously behind the best possible candidate for the job, and we look forward to adding Steve's extensive marketing and leadership experience to help take our industry to the next level," said commission Chairman Kent Waliser of Sagemoor Vineyards, in a prepared statement.

Warner comes to the position from Merck amp; Co. Inc., where he served as managing director based in Bucharest, Romania.

Before that, he served as general manager and in marketing positions in global and regional marketing in the Asia Pacific region.

He led teams while living in Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; and several domestic markets, the announcement said.

Born in Washington, he graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the U.S. military's Special Operations Command -- first as a sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and then as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy.

Warner succeeds Robin Pollard who announced her departure last October. During the search for a new director, the wine commission, which represents every licensed winery and wine grape grower in the state, reportedly received nearly 200 applications.

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

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