WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman is getting back to writing.
Catie McIntyre Walker, owner of the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman wine shop in downtown Walla Walla, has put her business up for sale so she can get back to focusing on restarting her longtime wine blog and finishing a book on the history of the Walla Walla Valley wine industry.
“When I opened the shop, I told everyone it was a five-year plan,” she told Great Northwest Wine. “I either sell or close.”
She opened the shop near the Marcus Whitman Hotel in November 2010 – and a lot has happened since then.
First of all, several winery tasting rooms have opened nearby, making her area of Walla Walla more of a tourist attraction. Within a moment’s walk, visitors can get from her shop to Gino Cuneo, Spring Valley, Trust, SuLei, Flying Trout, Spring Valley and other wineries’ tasting rooms.
“It’s a great neighborhood,” she said. “This block has filled up.”
Walker has always seen this as an opportunity because even though she carries a lot of Walla Walla Valley wines, travelers don’t have time to get to the more than 130 wineries in the valley and turn to her to buy wines. In addition, Walker carries wines from other areas of Washington, as well as Oregon and imports, including her favorite Champagnes.
At the same time, Initiative 1183 was passed by Washington state voters in November 2011 and went into effect the following summer. The new law privatized state liquor sales, effectively getting the state out of the business. At the same time, it gave a big advantage to large retailers, including Costco (which was a strong supporter of the bill), and attracted such wine stores as BevMo to the state and put a crunch on smaller retailers, including Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Walker said. “When we opened, everybody embraced us. We have had some rough patches with 1183.”
Walker has been part of a group that has been trying to amend the new law.
“But that just isn’t happening.”
Once Walker moves on from her wine shop, she plans to restart her blog – called Through the Walla Walla Grapevine – which she put on hiatus a little more than a year ago. And she’s writing a history of the Walla Walla Valley wine industry for a company called History Press.
“I really miss writing,” she said.
The Walla Walla native was recruited by the publisher to write the book – for which she already had two chapters written – so she took on the project with gusto. Once she wraps up her retail business, she will be able to put more focus on the book, called “Wines of the Walla Walla Valley: A Deep Rooted History.”