Barrington Wine Walk offers taste of the holidays
Toni Mathisen and Mike Norman, both of Lake Zurich, take a minute to learn more about the wine they are sampeling inside of Mia Sorella during Barrington's Holiday Wine Walk. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 21, 2012 4:52PM
BARRINGTON — On Saturday downtown Barrington merchants offered shoppers a tasteful take on holiday gift-buying.
An afternoon Holiday Wine Walk event kicked off the season of giving by bringing together local businesses and showcasing the village’s variety of stores and restaurants.
Residents and visitors toured retailers between Village Center and Ice House Mall, stopping along the way to sip and shop at their own pace. Heinen’s Fine Foods, Ciao Baby, Chessies’ Restaurant, McGonigal’s Pub and The Annex provided complementary reds and whites for tasting at 15 participating stores.
The wine walk offered a shopping experience more relaxing than is typical for late November, shop owners said.
“It’s an enjoyable, festive feel a versus a fight-the-crowd feel,” said Mary Sirois, owner of Mia Sorella Salon and Boutique. “Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be chaotic.”
Sirois and a handful of merchants along Cook Street organized the village’s first wine walks in March and June of this year. Successful turnouts prompted the group to rally their colleagues.
With the village’s backing, the Holiday Wine Walk served as a unifying event for the business community, Sirois said.
According to Anne Garrette, event and marketing coordinator for Barrington, savvy and enthusiastic local proprietors in recent years have been a driving force behind new, unique events.
The open dialogue that now characterizes the village’s relationship with its business community is much stronger than it was a decade ago, she said.
The village’s monthly merchant meetings have served as an informal way for proprietors to network and the municipality to provide a listening ear. Community-wide events, like Celtic Fest, have been hatched by business owners, Garrette said.
“They said, ‘Let’s close Park Avenue and see what happens,’” Garrette said. “And it was huge.”
Wine walks in particular have attracted new potential customers, many of whom did not know of the retail options located in their backyards, Sirois said.
She has noticed a renewed sense of energy in the business district since she opened her salon-boutique four years ago.
“It’s really nice to see this downtown become vibrant again,” she said.
One-day special events help put on display what merchants have to offer year-round.
“With the retail shops working together, we can highlight what amazing shopping we have right here,” Sirois said.
“It’s a great way to toast to the holidays.”