PINETOP-LAKESIDE — Wine in Our Pines began in 2019 and was technically sold out before the event began.

Following a premiere event, there are usually tweaks made — learned from the first — that make the event even more attractive the next year, but COVID-19 happened. And now, with people longing to socialize, the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce’s Wine in Our Pines is returning from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 19 and yes, with tweaks, including a new day and a new location.

Mountain Meadows Recreation Center (MMRC) on Woodland Road, where everyone can comfortably spread out with their blankets and chairs, is a perfect location. And, should you prefer a dressed table for eight, complete with place settings under a canopy, it can be yours with the purchase of a new VIP package.

It was discovered that most people preferred to stand or circulate during the first event so only a small number of chairs and tables will be set up, but can be staked out as early as 10:30 a.m. when the event begins accepting tickets.

Rather than the 50-foot charcuterie board which was appropriate for serving in 2019, individually wrapped appetizer packages prepared by My Sister Can’t Cook will be served, complementing the 135 wines representing 16 vendors from Washington, California, Oregon and Arizona. And, there is no limit to your wine tasting.

The John Darst Trio will provide the perfect wine-tasting music and Arizona Native Gene Ames will be the event photographer. Various community businesses have also contributed items that fill the colorful wine bags that will be given to attendees.

Wine in Our Pines can accommodate 750 people and, as was the case with the first event, it is almost a sellout. On Thursday there were only 100 tickets left. Ticket pricing is $60 for singles; $110 for couples and the VIP package for $600. There is also a designated driver ticket for $35, which, of course, does not include wine.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.pinetoplakesidechamber.com and at this late date are now will-call. Online purchasers need only to bring their ID and receipt to the event. Due to inability to guarantee Wi-Fi, only checks and cash will be accepted this Saturday.

The single-event sponsor is Realtor Bev Best, who is with West USA Real Estate. She is the No. 1 agent on Arizona’s White Mountain for 2019 and 2020.

Wine in Our Pines is a fundraiser for the chamber, a non-profit entity. Due to COVID-19, the chamber has not had a fundraiser for the past 18 months. Following the governor’s COVID-19 guidelines last year, and thinking outside of the box, it still offered vendors and the community the much-anticipated Fall Artisans Festival, which was their 45th festival. It was not a money maker for the chamber but a desired attempt on its part to help local businesses and dedicated vendors and to bring the community together in a time of crisis.

Understanding the plight of businesses during the pandemic, the chamber waived membership dues for the rest of the year and has reactivated all members whose memberships had lapsed. It currently has an unmanned office in the Town Hall and is actively seeking a part-time chamber executive. Currently the chamber is run by an all-volunteer board.

Last year’s Wine in Our Pines took place at Charlie Clark’s Orchard. The Orchard was unable to accommodate the event this year, but the plan is to return the event to the Orchard in 2022. The event was also held on a Sunday afternoon in 2019 but in order to accommodate more people who normally end their weekend on Sunday, the decision was made to move it to Saturday.

Wine in Our Pines is an adult-only event and MMRC is a city facility where smoking and vaping are prohibited.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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