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Taste of Ripon: Clear night paired with wines, good company
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Mary Aal samples some red wine poured by Warren Wissink of PMZ Real Estate. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

The weather did a great job cooperating with this year’s annual “Taste of Ripon,” sponsored by McManis Family Vineyards.

Clears skies and comfortable temperatures in 60s brought folks out in droves, sipping wine and trying the various foods while walking along the historic downtown streets.

All told, 26 businesses took part in this best-of-valley event, as deemed by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, and for good reasons.

“Last year, we sold out and were forced to turn people away,” Chamber Executive Director Tamra Spade said.

She estimated early attendance at 460 – numbers were 500 that previous year – making her wonder if some were hesitant to come out this evening in fear of getting drenched. This year, Spade had extra tickets available at two check-in places, PMZ Real Estate and the Ripon Memorial Library.

Deegan’s Funeral Home took advantage of the break in the weather by setting up a fire pit equipped with chairs outside of the Main Street business.

This proved to be inviting for the group of Dave, Deb, Mark and Terri, whose last names weren’t available. The Ripon folks used this cozy spot to sip wine and snack on pulled pork sliders and coleslaw prepared by those at Deegan’s.

Mary Aal is a “Taste of Ripon” regular.

She perused the Wine Passport issued by the Chamber during check in, hoping to hit as many of the places as possible in the three hours.

Aal was looking to get all 26 stamps or signatures to validate her passport. If successful, she could turn it in at the Bank of Stockton and be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize.

These participating places stayed open later than usual.

Included were the following: All About the Girls, All Glam’d Up, Bank of Stockton, Bank of the West, Boutique Couture, Deegan’s, Divine Salon & Spa, Down 2 Earth Natural Living, Events 22, Friends Salon, Generations Spa & Salon, Magpie Antiques, Main Street Floral, Natural Path Wellness Center, PMZ, ReMax Executive / Ability Mortgage, Ripon Café, Ripon Free Methodist Church, Clarence Smit Museum, Ripon Jewelers, Ripon Roadhouse, Silverado Building Materials & Nursery, Studio 101, Trans America, Tri Valley Lending & Integrity First Realty, and Uecker Insurance Agency.

 “(Taste of Ripon) gets us a lot of new customers coming in,” said Audrey Hofman of Main Street Floral.

She and her sister-in-law Kendra Hofman had their business already set up for the holidays with decorated Christmas trees and unique gift ideas. Folks not only enjoyed a serving of Dutch soup and cookies to go with their beverage but also purchased a few items along the way.

Spade, meanwhile, indicated that the piped in music blaring throughout downtown, playing many of the familiar holiday tunes was something new for this year.

Among the newcomers to the event were wineries from Murphys and Lodi, according to Spade.

Once again, buses ran every 15 minutes, transporting those taking part in “Taste of Ripon,” with eight round-trip stops along the way. For first-timers, this is an event that’s both impressive and surprising, Spade said.

“The places involved often go all out,” she added.