While VIP attendees to Sunday’s Westminster Wine Stroll were already having their first glass of wine on Main Street, Katherine Lane and her boyfriend, John Welder, stood near the back of a long line that stretched down the sidewalk from Locust Lane. Both had come to the wine stroll from Laurel.
“We love wine!” she said, adding that she didn’t mind the line. Welder agreed.
“It’s not hot. It’s comfortable outside. It’s Sunday, and we’re having a good day,” he said.
Sixteen wineries participated in the wine stroll along with Twin Valley Distillers, plus vendors of cigars, crafts, food and treats. Businesses along the closed stretch of Main Street from Longwell Avenue to Bond Street had doors open wide.
“This brings in customers,” said Robin Reese of Country View Tuxedo and Wedding Accessories. “Even if they don’t purchase today, they’ll walk in when the holidays come around and tell me they saw the shop at this festival.”
Jennifer Scobie of Emmitsburg and her friend Clara Yoder stopped at the Carroll County Public Library’s photo booth to have their picture taken with giant inflatable wine bottles. Scobie said she’s a wine lover working on converting her friend.
“It’s a nice relaxed way to spend the day, and I saw that the Reagan Years would be here,” Scobie said, noting that they are one of her favorite bands. “Music and wine — it’s a great combo!”
Indeed, two stages of entertainment kept the street party going, with The Kelly Bell Band, The Reagan Years and a DJ on tap. And the party wasn’t just for wine-lovers. Eric Car of Eldersburg was there with his two boys, ages three and six.
“We just happened to be in Westminster and saw that it was going on. It’s a great family afternoon out. We get to walk around and enjoy the food. It’s delicious,” he said, balancing a plate with chicken as he spoke. “This gets people to check out the shops. It’s perfect weather — not too bright and not too hot.”
Hosted by the city of Westminster’s Recreation and Parks department, the event offered VIP ticket holders the opportunity to sample wine an hour prior to general admission ticket holders. VIPs were also privy to additional wine samples and hors d'oeuvres, plus reserved parking, but all ticket holders received an official “Wine Stroll” glass.
Each winery had a line stretching from its tent, as visitors sampled wines. It was the second year for Jarl Weyent of Whistle Stop Winery to attend.
“We love Westminster,’ Weyent said. “The favorite selling wine is our sangria, but my favorite is our cabernet.”
Among the vendors sat a bright pink cruiser bicycle with a built-in cooler. Even though the sun was in hiding, this unique ice cream vendor drew a line. Business owner, Katherine O’Brien of Baltimore was happy to oblige.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Westminster,” O’Brien said of why she’d come. “We do a lot of fairs and festivals and weddings too. People always want to sit on the bike and have their picture taken.”
Now in its fifth year, the Wine Stroll began with tastings inside downtown businesses.
“It’s grown to be one of our larger special events of the year, boasting an attendance of approximately 6,000 guests,” said Heather Mullendore, assistant director, Westminster Recreation and Parks. “The ambiance is something to take in, especially with the cherry trees blossoming.”
Kathy Edwards seemed to enjoy that ambiance.
“It’s a wonderful way to promote downtown,” she said. “What’s really nice is, whenever I come downtown, I see people I know. This is my community. This is where I live.”
Attendee Dee Turner-Brock agreed. She was having a girls’ day out with friend, Taryn Plendl. Both wore shirts that said, “Partners in Wine!”
“This gets the community together, which is nice,” Turner-Brock said. “Not everybody drinks wine, but there are other vendors here and it’s cool to see everyone out and about. We’ve already tried some good new wines at Jan Zell Wines.”
Plendl nodded and laughed. “We wrote them down to remember, too,” she said. “This is a good girlfriends’ day out.”
Mullendore thinks so, too. She said she loves having outside events like the Wine Stroll.