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Wine Walk kicks off a busy fall for Claremont

The season of neighborhood barbecues, block parties and concerts in the park may be drawing to a close, but the streets of Claremont are gearing to stay just as busy with eyes set on September.

Among events locals eagerly anticipate along with the dropping of the fall leaves is the annual Vintage Village Wine Walk, taking place in the Claremont Village this year on Saturday, September 15. Not surprising given ticket sales from past wine walks, this year’s event is selling out quickly. Of the 1500 tickets available, about 1000 tickets have already been sold, according to event organizer Lori Paley, owner of the Village’s Aromatique Skin and Body Care. Ms. Paley expects tickets to sell out by next week.

“There’s just a synergy about it, and it’s become a model for events of this kind,” Ms. Paley said. “We have been contacted by The Shoppes at Chino Hills, Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and San Pedro, all doing their own wine walks now and wanting help to get theirs off the ground.”

Though last year’s event sold out at 2000 people, Village Marketing Group organizers chose to downsize ticket numbers after feedback from last year’s participants.

“It was just too crowded,” Ms. Paley explained. “We’ve gone back to 1500 [tickets] and added more tasting sites so it won’t feel as crowded.”

While the event’s capacity is being downsized, the event itself is only getting bigger. Ten new additions will join this year’s 40-plus food and wine stops throughout the village. Included in the new wine and hors d’oeuvres vendors are I Love Pie, opening next month in Village West. The new business is teaming up with Heirloom, providing pie samplings to compliment Heirloom’s wine selections. Popular Pomona eatery Tony’s Famous French Dips will also get involved, passing out its signature sandwich creations on the corner of Bonita and Harvard.

The time of the event is receiving a change as well, beginning at 4 p.m., earlier than in previous years, and ending by 8 p.m. to allow locals the opportunity to dine at local restaurants after the wine stops flowing.

Organizers hope that the Wine Walk will make the Claremont Village a destination that weekend regardless of participation in the event itself. To ensure this, they have enlisted help of live bands such as the locally-loved Squeakin’ Wheels and The Ravelers.

“We want people to come out and just enjoy what Claremont has to offer,” Ms. Paley said.

Tickets, $35 in advance or $40 on event day if available, may be purchased at participating stores throughout the Village. Check out the event website at www.claremontwinewalk.com for more details. For the first time in Vintage Village history, you don’t have to go to the Village to buy tickets, which are available for purchase on the website. Success with the online format used at the springtime Blues and Brews event prompted Wine Walk organizers to give digital ticket selling another try.

“We liked the idea of exposing Claremont to people from outside the area,” said online ticket-tracker Sonja Stump, who says she is getting a kick out of seeing all the different locations of people buying tickets. “There are people coming from San Diego, Encinitas and Santa Barbara. We even have a lady coming from New Mexico!”

Ticket holders must be 21 or older to participate in the event, though non-alcoholic options will be available at select locations. Proceeds from the event will benefit Pomona Valley Hospital Auxiliary, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Shoes That Fit.

—Beth Hartnett

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