Benton City's Shaw Vineyards plans tasting room in Walla Walla

Vicki Hillhouse, Walla Walla Union-BulletinAugust 30, 2013 

WALLA WALLA -- A downtown building long known for formal wear will soon be outfitted to sell fine wine from a Red Mountain vineyard.

The Main Street property where Purple Parasol has dressed everyone from brides and grooms to prom dates for decades has been sold to a Benton City vineyard company that plans to make its tasting room debut there.

Friday was the final day for the Purple Parasol shop in Walla Walla. A sister branch in Kennewick will continue with formal wear and custom alterations at 22 W. Kennewick Ave.

According to an announcement, the three sisters who own the business wanted to downsize to a single denser market.

Siblings Sharlene Miller, Sheryl Brewer and Shirley Giarde opened Purple Parasol in 1982 on West Main Street, near Wylie Monuments. Their four children between them, ages 1 to 5 at the time, played in the back room during operating hours while the mothers worked.

After five years, the operation moved east on Main to the current spot of Providence Fine Living. During the same year, they opened a second location in Kennewick. Three years later, the women got the chance to purchase the building at 25 E. Main St., in a move that allowed them to help lead the transformation and revitalization downtown.

In 1999, their property was reportedly among the first to be part of the exterior makeover movement that revitalized downtown and put Walla Walla on the map as a Great American Main Street community.

The property has been on the market for the past couple of years, said Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Executive Director Elio Agostini. Although the closure of the shop is a loss of formal retail in the market, Agostini said the sale is good news for the family of owners as they pursue their vision of consolidation.

In its place will be Shaw Vineyards' first winery.

The vineyard company has been around for 30 years with grapes in the Red Mountain and Mattawa areas, said General Manager Eric Henriksen.

This will be the first venture into a tasting room for the company. Winery owners Dick and Wendy Shaw will feature their Henry Earl wine, a tribute to their fathers with grapes from Shaw Vineyards' Red Mountain property.

"We're excited to be part of Walla Walla and what's going on there," he said.

Henriksen said operators hope to be open by next spring/summer, but few details about the transition have been determined. He said owners plan to keep the tasting room on the main floor and offer vacation rentals upstairs.

"We're at the very beginning right now talking to local architects and local builders," Henriksen said.

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