Downtown Walla Walla abloom with new tasting rooms

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A cluster of new downtown Walla Walla tastings rooms will open their doors for what offers to be a busy Spring Release this weekend.

At least five new tasting rooms with three times as many brands are bracing for Spring Release debuts.

The latest to make their way downtown: Gino Cuneo Cellars, Henry Earl Estates, Browne Family Vineyards and Associated Vintners, Result of a Crush and Studio Two Zero Two.

Gino Cuneo Cellars: Located in the Pantorium Building, 2 E. Rose St., the tasting room bills itself as the first all-Italian-style retail tasting room downtown. The opening of the new space in a one-time art gallery at the gateway to downtown also comes with the rebranding of Tre Nova wines to “g. Cuneo.”

Cuneo has been a Northwest winemaker since 1989 as he’s explored the expression of Italian red varietals in the warm climates of Eastern Washington and Oregon. He started Cuneo Cellars in 1994. He moved production, bottling and fruit drying operations of Gino Cueno Cellars to Walla Walla in 2012.

His new tasting room focuses on sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera plus the drying fruit process that produces amarone-style and ripasso wines.

For the new space, interior designer Robin Pecka incorporated the modern open space with the original wood, brick and plaster elements, according to the announcement. The old and new elements are meant to reflect the Old World/New World approach to the wines, as well.

“We spent quite a few months looking for just the right location to showcase our wines,” Cuneo said in a prepared statement. “This historic Pantorium Building is an outstanding site for us.” For more details visit ginocuneocellars.com .

Result of a Crush: The Reynvaan sisters — Amanda Reynvaan and Angela Reynvaan Garratt — whose names are associated with the red blends and rosés they’ve made at the family wine business with their brother Matt Reynvaan, are venturing out with their own project.

Result of a Crush is the spinoff of cult winery Reynvaan Family Vineyards. It opens with a new tasting room at 134 W. Poplar St., in the revitalized building that’s also home to Misbehaven Spa & Salon.

Until now the brand has mostly been sold through distribution. Positioned with appeal to a female consumer its aim is quality and whimsy. As demand has grown, the family has opted for a retail destination for the wines. Current releases include a 2011 red blend, 2012 red blend and 2012 rosé. White wines and additional reds are planned for the future. The tasting room will operate 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. Movie nights, private rentals and other events are slated for the expansive tasting room in the coming months.

For this weekend the winery will be open today and Saturday. For more details, visit resultofacrush.com .

Studio Two Zero Two: Located at 202 E. Main St., the space formerly occupied by Red Reina, the space is part art studio/part tasting room, operators say. Tasting room Manager Steve Wells pours from a portfolio that includes Matthews, Gard Vintners, Alleromb, Mullan Road Cellars and Tenor. Wines of Ardor Cellars, started by Brandon Kubrock, are also based there. The studio will feature four artists. Three will be regular fixtures, and one will be rotating. The regular artists are Anne Hysell, Penny Michel and Helene Wilder. Work from MaLynda Poulsen

Henry Earl Estates: From dresses to drinks, the longtime home to Purple Parasol formalwear shop has been converted to a tasting room for Henry Earl Estates and Russell Creek Winery, which is said to have been sold to operators of Henry Earl. Final touches were being put on the converted space Thursday for this weekend’s event.

Browne Family Vineyards and Associated Vintners: The transition at the former home of The Chocolate Shop is complete. In its place Browne Family Vineyards has opened a tasting room to highlight its own wines as well as Associated Vintners, a group that includes three powerhouses in the wine industry: Ross Mickel of Ross Andrew Winery, known for Rhone reds; Paul Gregutt of Waitsburg Cellars, known for aromatic whites; and Peter Dow of Cavatappi, known for Washington-grown Italian varieties. The tasting room also features “lifestyle items” from wine accessories to apparel and healthy grab-n-go snacks, according to a description. Additionally, it is available for special events at First Avenue and Main Street.

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

Comments

jennybuggs 1 year, 3 months ago

Yay for economic growth but it would be nice if downtown could keep it more balanced. You don't go to a mall and find that it is 75% shoe stores. Downtown shouldn't be 75% wine tasting rooms (esp wines that aren't even from the WWV). I wish the Downtown Foundation/Chamber of Commerce/Port/Whoever would do some major courting of businesses that would keep the downtown more balanced and a place that locals can go in addition to tourists. Thank God for sears and tallmans and the fabric stores, pet food store and doctors offices that still remain that give life to main street in the off season.

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wwguy7 1 year, 3 months ago

If the wineries don't take this spaces, who will? The downtown, mainstreet retailer is essentially dead. The internet has put a huge target on the backs of independent main street retailers. Whether you like it or not, this is the reality of today's economic environment.

Would you rather these spots sit vacant? That's not good for anybody. As much as some people loathe wineries, they are good for our economy. They bring tax dollars to our valley, along with good jobs. They also promote tourism, which also brings in tax dollars and jobs.

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chicoli 1 year, 3 months ago

The problem is the rent. Building owners and wineries owners have a crush on each other, the little guy just cannot compete!

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wwguy7 1 year, 2 months ago

Sorry Paco, but rent downtown is a product of a free market, not some crazy wine conspiracy. There are "little guys" that own wineries, that are making the rent work. Being on Main St is incredibly desirable for any sort of retail business, not just wineries.

Educate yourself on this issue before you say that wineries and landlords have a "crush" on each other. $2K in rent from a winery is the same as $2K in rent from another entity.

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Bigdog 1 year, 3 months ago

This is exactly why the purple octopus added a flavor unmatched by any of the downtown merchants! It seems anything other than whineworld folks are unwelcome, and in fact; discouraged from doing business!

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downhillracer 1 year, 3 months ago

"Discouraged"? I'm pretty sure property owners are happy to sign a lease with anyone.

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Calzaretta 1 year, 2 months ago

I just don't understand the dislike of the wine industry here. I personally don't drink wine, and would love to see a high quality brew pub downtown. However, where does the animosity come from?

I understand that in the 1980s and early 1990s the downtown was crumbling and somewhat of a ghost town. Can someone provide the historical perspective I don't have?

Also, what percentage of downtown businesses are part of the wine industry? The business mix in the downtown core seems pretty diverse to me.

Thanks,

Dan Calzaretta

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wwguy7 1 year, 2 months ago

Thanks for using commone sense on the issue. There are not winery related outlets in every single building and space in WW. I too would like to know where the animosity comes from. It seems that the resurgence of WW came pretty much step in step to the wine industry exploding. How can that be a bad thing? I remember downtown in the early 90's. It was a ghost town.

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