WALLA WALLA -- Two wine tasting rooms have opened off the lobby at the Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center in Walla Walla, providing visitors with more options for tasting wines in the city's downtown area.
Tero Estates, Flying Trout Wines and Don Carlo Vineyard, all of Milton-Freewater, will celebrate their grand opening with wines and food from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday.
Tero and Flying Trout will share one room, while Don Carlo is in the other. In March, another winery will open a tasting room at the Marcus Whitman, Locati Cellars of Walla Walla.
Lori Kennedy of Don Carlo Vineyard said they wanted to take advantage of the "energy in downtown Walla Walla."
There's a lot of foot traffic in the downtown area because so many wineries have tasting rooms there. Also, the number and variety of restaurants, and the Marcus Whitman itself, are huge draws for visitors, she said.
"We wanted more exposure. We wanted a presence in Walla Walla," Kennedy said.
Flying Trout's wines are poured at Tero Estates, which is open only by appointment.
Jan and Doug Roskelley and Mike Tembreull, owners of Tero Estates and partners with Ashley Trout of Flying Trout, opened a tasting room in Walla Walla for the same reasons. They found that many people just didn't want to make the almost 15-mile drive from Walla Walla out to the winery.
Plus, many people visiting Walla Walla for the wine touring fly in and don't rent a car, Jan Roskelley said. Instead, they prefer to visit the various tasting rooms downtown, all within a comfortable walking distance of each other.
On Feb. 11 the hotel also is celebrating the relocation and reopening of its gift shop, the 1928 Gift & Wine Shop. The shop has moved into a larger area adjacent to the hotel lobby, one formerly occupied by a bank.
The shop offers a selection of unique Walla Walla Valley wines, espresso and specialty foods and products from Southeastern Washington vendors, including the Blue Mountain Lavender Farm, grape seed oils from Apres Vin, mustards and other foods from AJ's Edible Arts and Wine Away, a wine stain remover.