WALLA WALLA — Among the berries, greens and signature Walla Walla Sweet Onions at the Downtown Farmers Market may soon come grapes and hops — in liquid form.
Market coordinators will ask the city for permission to host wine and beer tastings at the Saturday and Thursday markets during tonight’s 7 p.m. Walla Walla City Council meeting, 15 N. Third Ave.
Markets that meet criteria across the state already have the blessing for wine and beer tastings from the Legislature, which made a sampling pilot program permanent last year.
But it’s taken many this long to implement the change while waiting for more specific instructions from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, said Elio Agostini, executive director for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, which operates the downtown market.
Furthermore, the downtown market also needs approval from the city, which owns the property where both the Saturday and Thursday markets operate.
He said he’s received no specific requests from any wineries or breweries. But if approved, the market would likely put out a call for those who want to participate.
Although the morning market at Fourth Avenue and Main Street on Saturdays might not be prime time for tasting, customers can buy bottles but cannot open them on the premises.
Thursday evening markets on First Avenue between Main and Alder streets may be more attractive for the after-work consumers.
Qualifying markets must have at least five farm vendors selling agricultural products, and the total combined gross annual sales of vendors who are farmers must exceed the total combined annual sales of vendors who are processors or resellers.
Alcohol pours must be 2 ounces or less, for a total of up to 2 ounces per customer per day, Agostini outlined.
Just three different wineries or breweries can pour at each market, and they must remain in a fenced area. Furthermore, food must be available for consumers while sampling, or wineries or breweries must be adjacent to a vendor offering prepared food.
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