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Crowd pours over Village Wine Walk

Ray Riojas, owner of Rio de Ojas gift shop, pours a glass of Chatel ‘buis Pinot Noir for patrons at the thirteenth annual Claremont Vintage Village Wine Walk on Saturday, Sept. 19. Rio de Ojas was one of 38 Village businesses serving wine during the event. The participating businesses chose their wine selections for the event. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to local non-profit organizations such as the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Auxiliary, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Shoes That Fit. / photo by Julian Mininsohn

Liz Ortiz
Metro Editor

For the first time in the Vintage Village Wine Walk’s 13-year history, the check-in process ended at 6 p.m., which signaled that all 1,600 guests who signed-up to participate were in attendance on Saturday.

Guests wandered the streets of the Claremont Village from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and tasted a variety of wines at participating merchants. Thirty-eight businesses, 36 restaurants and wineries, and 16 bands participated in the event. The proceeds raised at the wine walk benefited the Shoes that Fit, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Auxiliary.

“(The wine walk) builds awareness of the village and what a special place it is,” said Sonja Stump, the Vintage Village Wine Walk co-coordinator. “It’s a community building event, so it’s nice to see people from the community, as well as people from out-of-town coming to participate.”

Village merchants paid a fee to participate in the event, which granted them a one-day Alcohol Beverage Control Liquor License, and in turn the money they paid was donated to the wine walk’s three charities.

Businesses collaborated with wineries of their choosing, which allowed for a selection of local and foreign wines.

Stump said one of the businesses was collaborating with a winery from Spain. Several businesses also chose to collaborate with local restaurants in hopes of gaining exposure.

“It definitely calls people back to the Village and is great exposure for the businesses,” said Terri Riojas, owner of Rio de Ojas, a gift shop that participated in the wine walk.

Upon check-in, the rules of the event were made clear to guests. They were to wear their wristbands at all times, and they were not permitted to carry a glass of wine on the sidewalk or city streets.

To ensure that everyone followed orders, the event committee hired a Claremont police officer to patrol the Village, Stump said.

Participants seemed to be in good spirits as they walked from business to business with empty wine glasses in hand.

Riojas said her business has never had a bad experience while participating in the wine walk and that all the attendees focus on having a good time.

“It revitalizes the town and brings the community together,” said Garth Masik, a Rancho Cucamonga resident and event attendee.

The sound of guitars, trumpets and pianos echoed through the streets of the Village. Stump said that bands constantly email the event committee and ask if they can play during the wine walk.

The 16 bands participated this year were scattered throughout the Village.

“We take a lot of pride in the music. It adds ambiance as people walk around from business to business,” Stump said.

The ultimate goals of the wine walk were to raise money for charity and have people attend the event, both were achieved, Stump said.

Liz Ortiz can be reached at elizabeth.ortiz@laverne.edu.

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