Igniting Tastebuds at Downtown Visalia's Wine Walk
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Perfect PairingsMarch 2016
By Jordan Venema
The Downtown Visalia Wine Walk comes to Main Street for its fifth year on April 7. But don’t be fooled by the shortened title. Though no longer called the Wine and Cheese Walk, guests will actually get more from their walk, not less. Downtown Visalians Events and Membership Manager Christi Metzner explains they changed the name “because we’re going to have cheese, olive oil, and chocolate.” And with all those additions to this year’s walk, the full title would have been a mouthful.
The Wine Walk has proven to be one of downtown Visalia’s more popular events, which sold out last year’s 700 tickets. Expecting its popularity to continue, organizers are selling 800 tickets this year, and raising the number of participating stores from 26 to 30, which translates to more wine, more cheese, more fun.
The Wine Walk is a pretty straightforward concept, if not a straightforward route between stops. For $35 (price per ticket jumps to $40 after March 27), guests receive a lanyard and pass that can be worn around the neck – to free hands for wine and cheese, obviously. The event begins at the Fox Theater, where participants will be given an empty glass.
“All the locations and wineries will be listed on your ticket,” explains Metzner, though tickets do not reveal in which stores the wineries will be found. “You have to figure that out,” says Metzner. “So if you have a favorite wine, you have to go in and out of every store until you find it.” Think of it like a scavenger hunt for adults, where everybody wins, even when they don’t exactly find what they’re looking for.
The purpose of the event, other than enjoying good treats, is to encourage Visalians to experience stores that may have flown under their radar. “A lot of times, we’ll walk right past a store and not realize what’s inside,” Metzner says. Plus, events like the Wine Walk benefit local shop owners, who’ve relayed to Metzner that other than Christmas, the Wine Walk is their best day for sales. “I think when you drink a little bit, you don’t think about it as much,” Metzner says with a laugh.
New participants include Sierra Bicycle Werks and a downtown tattoo parlor, joining regulars Browns and Pacific Treasures. There will be many participating wineries, but chocolate wine truffles will be supplied by Stafford Chocolates of Porterville, and infused olive oils will be provided by Bari Olive Oil. “The cheese comes from different companies,” explains Metzner, and will be paired with wines, which can be found in every shop. Many stores supply their own food: some appetizers, others a full spread.
Other than the wine and food, the event will include live music by guitarist AC Myles, and for the footsore, the downtown trolley will be rolling to pick up and drop off passengers between locations.
Some proceeds from the event will be donated, while the remainder will go back into maintaining the downtown area – to take care of things that are often overlooked or taken for granted. Says Metzner, “When you’re walking around, you’re not noticing all the buildings, and all the lighting, and every little detail that goes on, and the money raised just helps maintain all of that.”
Also, says Metzner with certainty, “We have one of the best downtowns in Visalia.” That businesses return each year eager to participate, and guests are always respectful – “it brings in a really good crowd of people,” says Metzner – might just prove her point.
Downtown Visalia Wine Walk
April 7, 5:30-8:30pm
For tickets, call (559) 732-7737