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Ripon market offers wine tasting

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Luis Vasquez mans the Fisher Famers booth during Thursday’s Ripon Farmers Market at Mavis Stouffer Park.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED June 6, 2014 1:25 a.m.

It may be too early to tell but the wine-tasting addition to the Ripon Farmers Market appears to be a success.

Ask Byron McBroom, who, along with his wife, Kathie, sampled some of the eight different reds from the wine list Friday of the revamped event at Mavis Stouffer Park.

“I like this wine,” he said, sipping on some of the complimentary samples by upstart Lucca Winery.

In order to prevent any conflicts with the strict park ordinance, the City of Ripon event was held inside Stouffer Hall.

Mark Lucchesi, an almond and peach farmer in Ripon, recently opened Lucca Winery, according to Tim Bunnell.

“Mark has always been passionate about wine. He always wanted to open his own winery,” he said.

The Lucchesi family business began in the small farming community of Oakley. This Delta region is where the family grew grapes, almond and apricots until Alan Lucchesi took stewardship in 1990 and expanded the operation to include over 400 acres of vines.

But it was Mark who began making small batches of wine for friends and family that ultimately became Lucca Winery located at 16265 E. River Road, Ripon.

“We just began bottling last year,” said Bunnell, who helps Lucchesi with the wine-making process.

The farmers market gave Lucca Winery some exposure not to mention a few select places – namely, O’Brien’s Market in Modesto and Barnyard and the Barnwood Restaurant in Ripon.

Patrons, vendors and visitors alike enjoyed the new location of the farmers market.

“This is place is nice and shaded,” said Alison DeMara of Alison’s Almond Brittle. She noted that the downtown location had some advantages given the foot traffic from the local businesses.

Ditto that for Dale Johnson of Dale’s Gourmet Kettle Popcorn. He enjoyed the cool breeze while mixing another batch of his popular kettlecorn.

Tony Westlake of Modesto and Daniel Stevens of Turlock performed live music. “This is our first time playing out here,” said Westlake, who called his Blues duo ‘Tony & the Tuff Times.’

He was playing harmonica while Stevens, who plays bass at various venues including Fat Cat Music House and Lounge in Modesto, was enjoying the comfortable park setting.

“Where setting the ambiance here with our music,” he said.

Farmers Market will be held every Thursday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at Stouffer Park through July 17.

Next week, a free movie in the park – in this case, Disney’s Frozen – will be part of the event.

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