Walk the Wine event showcases area’s amateur winemakers

Local home winemakers have the chance this week to get a better look inside the process and to learn from judges who know wines inside and out.

Downtown Tyrone will host the second Walk the Wine downtown on Friday beginning at 5 p.m., and as part of this year’s event, more than 70 wines will compete for medals.

Tickets for the event are $22 for general admission, $53 for the VIP session and $11 for designated drivers, if purchased in advance. General admission is $25 at the door, and designated drivers can get in for $10 after 5 p.m.

Tickets are available online at www.tyronechamber.com or in person at the Tyrone Chamber of Commerce building, 1004 Logan Ave.

More than 15 different wineries will be present to offer samples of their wares.

Ivan Riggle, who, along with his wife Mary, led the judging on Tuesday and said all of the amateur wines come from within a 15-mile radius of Tyrone.

“It’s amazing how many people are out there, dabbling in this field,” wrote Sue Griep, Tyrone events and promotions committee president, in an email. “I think you would be surprised to learn who, and how many different wines your friends, coworkers and neighbors are making at home.”

“This is how local wineries are born,” she added.

Riggle said he and his wife are both judges certified by the American Wine Society, and that they looked at the different wines based on the society’s guidelines. They are from Tipton.

The Riggles, alongside three judges from outside Tyrone – one from Duncansville, one from Patton and a third from northern New Jersey, he said – critiqued the wines based on five key tenets: appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression.

“The main thing you really look for is balance in any wine,” Riggle said, “so that you have a nice flavor, you have the correct amount of alcohol, good acids.”

None of the wines being judged are from professional wineries, he said, so there’s always something the winemakers can take away from the competition, even if they don’t win.

“What our goal with the amateur folks is to help them get a little better if they need to be,” Riggle said, “and if they are where they need to be, then we pat them on the back and give them a medal.”

Each person who participates in the amateur competition will get a written document that shows how the wines fared in the different categories and offers tips for future wines.

“We really try to stress changes,” he said. “Most of them really like the opportunity to improve.”

Griep said the Riggles’ experience has been “invaluable” to the planning process overall, too.

The homemade wine competition is only one part of Walk the Wine that’s new this year. After an “overwhelmingly successful first year” – Riggle said between 200 and 250 people were expected, but nearly 700 attended – organizers chose to add a concert to end the night. Flight 19 will perform from 8 to 11 p.m., and the borough is allowing open containers for the evening, so wine fans can sip on a glass of one of the libations they purchased during the tasting portion.

Concert attendees are encouraged to bring a chair to the concert.

A VIP session for the most dedicated wine fans begins one hour before the main event, but space is limited. Riggle said Marzoni’s Brick Oven and Brewing Co. will cater appetizers for VIP guests.

Most importantly for organizers, though, Walk the Wine brings people into downtown Tyrone and shows what the borough has to offer.

“People who may not otherwise visit our community or our businesses get a glimpse of what a great community we have in Tyrone,” Griep said.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see the streets of Tyrone bustling on a Friday evening,” she added.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7466.