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11:49 AM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Sharlot Hall Museum regroups for 2016 Sharlot’s WineFest

Bree Nation, wine club manager for the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, pours a glass of Dala Cabernet for James Holland, while is wife Christina and friend Joe Natale, middle, look on during Sharlot’s Cellar “99 Bottles of Wine at the Hall” wine tasting Saturday at Sharlot Hall Museum in downtown Prescott.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

Bree Nation, wine club manager for the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, pours a glass of Dala Cabernet for James Holland, while is wife Christina and friend Joe Natale, middle, look on during Sharlot’s Cellar “99 Bottles of Wine at the Hall” wine tasting Saturday at Sharlot Hall Museum in downtown Prescott.<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->(Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier)

PRESCOTT – As the third annual Sharlot’s WineFest got underway last summer, museum officials say a long line of ticketholders waited at the entrance, and once inside, attendees again faced lines at the overwhelmed wine-tasting stations.

Although successful as far as attendance goes, the 2015 event was perhaps too popular for its own good, say Sharlot Hall Executive Director Fred Veil and Media/Marketing Manager Ken Leja.

“Last year was a bit of a challenge,” Veil said this week. “We sold 550 tickets, and at 4 p.m. (the start of the event), we had people lined up to Summit Street.”

The challenges, in turn, caused the museum to step back and rethink its goals for this year’s event, which is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 20, at Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St.

“This year, we have limited the tickets to 300,” Veil said. In addition, organizers “have spread out the event over the entire campus, and increased the number of wine stations.”

While last year’s event was confined mostly to the front section of the museum grounds along Gurley Street, Veil said this year’s event would utilize the museum’s entire four acres. The goal, he said, is to allow more space for the attendees to mingle, and to avoid the long lines of the previous year.

All of that should move the Sharlot’s WineFest toward the “quality, upscale event” that organizers envision.

“This is a tasting,” Leja said, noting that the goal this year was to “create a quality event that allows everyone to savor the opportunity.”

Added Veil: “We chose to pare down the attendance and pair up the food and wine tastings.”

To that end, the museum had the help of El Gato Azul restaurant owner Barry Barbe, who coordinated the efforts, and added such other food purveyors as Soldi Creative Cuisine, Prescott Crush Wine Café, Barley Hound, Park Plaza Deli, and Goods from the Garden.

Each will feature food samplings to pair with the wines provided by Action Wines, as well as brew tastings from the Prescott Brewing Company and distilled spirit samplings from Thumb Butte Distillery and Desert Diamond Distillery.

A very limited number of tickets remained early this week, at $55 per person (or $100 a pair). Tickets are available at the museum entry or museum store, as well as at Prescott Crush Wine Café, or by phone at 928-445-3122, extension 10.

But organizers emphasize, “When the full complement of 300 admission tickets are gone – that’s it … the event will be sold out.”

For those who miss out this year, Leja pointed out that organizers are already looking ahead to next year’s event – tentatively scheduled for Aug. 19, 2017.

Veil said, “We want this event – already considered one of the finest in the community – to be the premier event of the summer season, not only for the museum, but for the community as well.”