Taste in downtown SLO to close next month

Taste, the downtown San Luis Obispo business featuring San Luis Obispo wines, is closing its doors Nov. 9.

The store opened in December 2006 in the Court Street shopping center with the participation of 14 local wineries, said Becky Gray, executive director of the San Luis Vintners Association. The goal was to use Taste as a marketing tool, exposing residents and tourists to San Luis Obispo’s wine region and its small boutique wineries, she said.

That year, The Tribune reported that a shift in marketing strategy to focus on Taste resulted in the vintners group losing some members who didn’t support its promotional priorities.

Years later, Gray said the group wants to take on “bigger and better marketing options” to bring attention to local wines. Membership, she said, is now at 24 wineries, the strongest it has been in years.

Gray could not say what the group’s future marketing plans entail, although she noted that next year will be a big year for the organization.

“2010 marks our 20th anniversary,’’ she said. “We will celebrate our region as well as our two annual events.”

San Luis Vintners will host its Roll Out The Barrels event April 29 to May 2 and its Harvest Celebration Weekend Nov. 5 to Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, a wine tasting bar is set to open in the lobby of the refurbished Wineman Hotel at 839-849 Higuera St. The mixed-use building has been undergoing a seismic retrofit and renovation since mid-February. A grand-opening for the Wineman is set for Nov. 5, said architect and project manager Craig R. Smith. A date has not been set for the opening of the European-style wine bar, and details about who will operate it or still being confirmed, he said.

The bar, he said, will be located in the multi-use lobby area of the building, he said. There will be a courtyard for outdoor seating, which will feature a fountain, fire pit and raised landscape planters. He said the space will take on a feel much like the outdoor patio scene at the Novo restaurant.

“We’ve got this incredible wine economy, and it makes sense to take advantage of it,’’ Smith said.

- Julie Lynem