For Jessica Moskwa, the Gilbert Cellars downtown tasting room isn’t just a place to try wines.
“We see the tasting room as a gathering place,” said Moskwa, Gilbert Cellars general manager. “We see the space as a chance to exchange ideas, talk, enjoy the wine and have that dialogue.”
In the last year, the winery has partnered with cultural organizations such as the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and Humanities Washington to hold a variety of events. Last week, it held a “Think & Drink,” an event with Humanities Washington where participants learned about the origins of the Día de los Muertos celebration.
Several Yakima Valley wineries are teaming up with cultural organizations for events, including live concerts, discussions and art exhibits, as a way to draw more — and different types of — customers to their tasting rooms.
“A lot of wineries are looking to build an experience for their customers while they’re enjoying the wine,” said Barbara Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley. “It gives them more of a reason to come out to the winery.”
When Treveri Cellars, a sparkling wine facility that opened nearly two years ago, opened a second tasting room at the former Sagelands Vineyard facility near Wapato this summer, co-owner Julie Grieb knew she had a perfect venue for an outdoor concert with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.
That hasn’t happened yet, but Treveri Cellars dipped its toe in combining music and wine last week at its Evening of Harvest and Harmony, which featured music from several Yakima Symphony Orchestra members. Half of the proceeds went to the orchestra.
Grieb said teaming up with the orchestra and other organizations gives her young winery an opportunity to introduce the wine to people it would not otherwise reach.
“We can stay here and wait for people to come see us,” Grieb said. “Or we can be out where we can support the community (and) maybe reach people we wouldn’t be able to reach.”
Gilbert Cellars has done several concerts with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, including several at The Cave, the winery’s barrel room in its West Valley vineyard.
Moskwa said the partnership with the orchestra came organically, as the Gilbert family has been a longtime supporter of the orchestra and other organizations.
In addition, there’s crossover between the customer bases of the winery and the orchestra, she said.
“It’s gives them one more reason to go (to the winery),” she said.
Having such events can certainly generate more wine sales, but for many winery owners and managers, it’s also about promoting the winery and its offerings long term.
“Anytime you invite people to your business, it’s an opportunity to give a great experience,” Moskwa said. “They have an opportunity to try our product and tell their friends they had a great time here.”
Winery events and partnerships can build the brand, said Glover of Wine Yakima Valley.
“If you want to brand yourself as a high-end tasting room, you need to consistently bring in that high-end partner,” she said.
The Yakima Symphony Orchestra certainly has contributed to the high-end feel of wineries such as Gilbert Cellars and Treveri Cellars, she said.
“It’s fresh for that person who has been going to that winery and it’s fresh for the person going to symphony,” she said. “If you put it together, it’s a whole new experience.
As a result, such events are likely to continue.
Gilbert Cellars has continued to seek opportunities for partnerships and has maintained its cultural offerings, including ongoing art exhibits and live music on the weekends, Moskwa said.
Meanwhile, Treveri Cellars wants to hold more events with the orchestra, especially in the summer when they can be outside.
“It’s a real panoramic setting,” Grieb said. “I think it would be nice to have the music and the setting go hand-in-hand for an event.”
• Mai Hoang can be reached at 509-759-7851 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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