Atascadero News file photo • VINO+Therapy owner Nena Benson pours wine at the Atascadero Art & Wine Tour/Sweetheart Stroll in February.
ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Art & Wine Tour will once again see dozens — if not hundreds — of folks wandering the streets of downtown Atascadero, sipping wine, appreciating art and perusing shops.
Violette Wings & Giftey Things is one shop whose doors will be flung wide, owner Kelli Evans said.
“It’s one of the best events we have in town, I think,” she said.
She added that she’s participated in the Art & Wine Tour ever since her Entrada Avenue shop opened about two years ago and it keeps being a lot of fun.
Atascadero Main Street hosts the quarterly event, President Larry Wysong said. Wysong added that the Atascadero Art & Wine Tour is a celebration of Atascadero and it shops and everything that gives it its personality and character.
“It’s a fun event that bring a lot of people to downtown,” Wysong said. “It’s a great social event — where else can you have a whole social evening for only $10?”
Evans said that charging hasn’t had much of an impact on attendance.
“Most people were shocked that it was free in the first place,” she said. “Most people were accommodating at the wristbands. You can’t get this much wine at a winery for $10.”
The way the event works is a downtown shop will partner up with a local artist and winery. Patrons of the event will park near downtown and walk the area around El Camino Real and Traffic Way, moseying in and out of shops, tasting wine, looking at art, talking to the artists, wineries and shop owners.
The event used to be free, but because it’s a hosted event, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Atascadero’s standard rules had to be suspended and it could no longer be free.
The result, Wysong said, is that IDs are checked and wristbands sold, and tasters can not leave shops with their wine despite Atascadero not having a rule against carrying an open container of alcohol in public.
The reason for this, Atascadero Police Sergeant Greg Meyer said, is how alcohol licensing works. When a restaurant sells a glass of wine, the customer can only drink that wine in the restaurant or on its designated patio area. Likewise with events at the Atascadero Lake Park involving wine: the designated area of the event is the Lake Park, so wine must stay there. But the designated area for the Art & Wine Tour isn’t measured in blocks or square miles, it’s confined to each participating shop. As such, alcohol obtained in a shop must stay in a shop.
But, Wysong said, it hasn’t been a problem to date, and may actually add to the party atmosphere.
“We’ve had no problems with it whatsoever. I’ve heard no complaints at all,” he said. “It’s worked out best for Atascadero Main Street because we’ve lost our redevelopment funding. It’s been a blessing in disguise.”
Karen Boaz-Hernandez agreed and said she often takes it a step further — with food.
“I find that even though it takes some cost on my part and I usually cater the event with FIG Good Food, I just find that it’s a really nice event,” she said. “It brings a lot of people out.”
Boaz-Hernandez owns Karen’s Custom Painting, a working studio. This time out, though, she’s going to feature an artist rather than feature her own material. That artist is watercolorist Raid Kaoud of San Luis Obispo.
A major upside to Boaz-Hernandez featuring an artist rather than herself is that she gets to go participate in the tour as a patron.
“It’s my favorite event besides Winter Wonderland,” she said.
See the sidebar for a full list of participating shops.
The Atascadero Art & Wine Tour will take place on Friday, Sept. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wristbands will be available for $10 each at booths located at Wilkins Action Graphics, Arlene’s Flowers and Calicopia.
Participating businesses in the Atascadero Art & Wine Tour on Sept. 7:
Time Since Remembered
Olive Tree Fine Arts
Dexter Smith Art Studio
Back on the Racks
Karen’s Custom Paints
Wilkins Action Graphics
Violette Wings & Giftey Things
FIG Good Food