Operation swap in progress at downtown tasting room

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Out with the chocolate wine. In with the cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

Precept Wines has moved The Chocolate Shop, a downtown tasting room dedicated to the company’s chocolate-infused wine, to an online operation only.

According to a sign posted on the windows at the tasting room, 31 E. Main St., the operation was closed this month. The brown-paper covered windows conceal a transformation taking place inside to Browne Family Vineyards, not only another Precept brand but the one belonging to Precept Chief Executive Officer Andrew Browne.

The notice on the windows says Browne Family Vineyards will open sometime this spring.

Billed as a “purveyor of all things chocolate,” the tasting room at First Avenue and Main Street was dedicated to Precept’s chocolate wine in May 2012. Precept — the Washington wine company whose massive portfolio includes Walla Walla’s Waterbrook Winery, Canoe Ridge and House Wine — built on the success of what was initially conceptualized as a niche market wine.

Before The Chocolate Shop retail space opened, the space had been used as a retail destination for the company’s numerous labels.

In 2011, Precept introduced its chocolate red wine made from a California Bordeaux blend and mixed with sugar and natural chocolate. Numerous reports tallied bottle sales of the roughly $15 wines at over 1 million that year. The company also offered creme de cocoa and strawberry blends, among others.

Its Main Street tasting room was the picture of decadence with gilded touches of gold and browns illuminated under a chandelier.

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