After a rough 2020, Marietta Main Street has put more effort than ever before into bringing people and business back to downtown. This year’s Wine & Chocolate Walk accomplished exactly that. With six stops for chocolate treats and four locations for wine tasting, downtown Marietta was bustling with both locals and out of town visitors enjoying the weather, the deals, and of course, the special treats.

Marietta Main Street Executive Director Cristie Thomas said the event has continued to grow, year after year. “Since we first started hosting a Wine & Chocolate Walk, we’ve increased the number of tickets we offer to the public and have grown how many businesses participate in the event itself,” said Thomas. “This year, we added a live music component thanks to members of the River City Symphony Orchestra and had seated, reserved wine tastings in individual restaurants as opposed to ticket holders walking around to enjoy sips of wine. This year, we sold 182 of 200 available tickets.”

Of the importance of an event like this, Thomas shared “This event is a fun opportunity for friends to get together and enjoy a day in downtown Marietta. Plus, some folks don’t realize they can enjoy a variety of wines from participating restaurants as well as an elevated experience thanks to downtown businesses. We hope ticket holders were able to try something new downtown.”

Events like these really promote browsing and tasting and encourage trying new things.

Marietta Main Street Board Member Kasandra Ruscitto Pritchett echoed those same sentiments about the goals and rewards of hosting an event like this. “Events like the Wine & Chocolate Walk are really great for our downtown businesses because they give businesses the opportunity to feature things in a special way that they may not market in their normal promotions – like for instance, wine and chocolate,” she said. “Those two items might not make up someone’s entire menu, but they are great things that they offer to complement their menus.”

Pritchett said this event gives participating businesses the opportunity to bring product awareness to new and existing customers, which will then in turn create a greater volume in sales and boost business downtown. “It’s also a fun event for people to come downtown and experience something different by walking from restaurant to restaurant in between their tastings maybe stopping in some stores, and seeing places that they may not go to when they are just going straight to a destination, events like these really promote browsing and tasting and encourage trying new things.”

Registration began at The Armory where sign in, bracelet and ticket pick up, map and souvenir wine glass handouts began each adventurer’s journey. From there, guests were free to visit any of the participating stops in whatever order they chose, with the only scheduled event being the wine tasting each guest was registered for at one of four downtown locations. Small group wine tastings were offered at The Riverfront Bar and Grill, located inside the Historic Lafayette Hotel, The Town House, 740 Social and The Original Pizza Place.

Anyone seeking a refresher between wine stops was able to enjoy a nice Sangria and shopping discount at Threadz Boutique, or a delicious chocolatey frozen or hot coffee from Jeremiah’s Coffee House. Wit & Whimzy was also offering a 10% discount on total purchases as a part of the walk, as well as cosponsoring a gift basket with Threadz Boutique to be given away by drawing of all the registered participants after the event closing.

It’s so nice seeing the sidewalks and businesses filled with people, and we love meeting visitors who came to Marietta specifically for the event.

“We participate in Main Street events as much as possible, and the Wine & Chocolate Walk is always a successful day,” said Laura Pytlik, owner of Wit & Whimzy on Front Street. “It’s so nice seeing the sidewalks and businesses filled with people, and we love meeting visitors who came to Marietta specifically for the event.” And visitors there certainly were. With participants from just down the street, to Point Pleasant and everywhere in between, Marietta certainly holds a great reputation for being a destination city with incredible things to see and do.

One such visitor for this event was Charlene Collins of Mineral Wells, WV. She came up with her husband Carlen and their adult children who are home from college for break. They were scheduled for the second small group tasting at The Original Pizza Place. While Charlene said she normally liked fruity, sweeter tasting wine, her husband was drawn to a dry Cabernet, citing the tannins and the oak flavor making it a soft but rich tasting choice. Fortunately, Original Pizza Place owner Mike Ruscitto had four varied, flavorful samples to try. And for the littlest visitor in the group, Aubryn, who spent the day on a leisurely stroller ride with her mom, Kelcie, there was a fruit and cheese platter offered to compliment the wine being served to the adult visitors in the group. For dessert, the restaurant offered slices of their Brooklyn Black Out Cake for $1 off regular price, as well.

“We have received an abundance of positive feedback from the Wine & Chocolate Walk,” said Ruscitto. “We were excited to participate to help bring awareness to our wine menu and test out a new wine that we are planning to add to our list this summer. We try to feature an array of affordable wines on our menu that can complement any pizza order – and we were excited to showcase these during this event. The crowd that came out was a lot of fun and eager to try everything. We gave the ticket holders a meat, cheese, and fruit plate to enjoy- and everyone seemed to love it.”

Some of the best chocolate to be found anywhere, but proudly crafted locally, helped complete the full Wine & Chocolate Walk experience. Sugar Maple Boutique was offering shopping discounts as well as various kinds of miniature chocolate bars. After leaving Sugar Maple it was just a few short steps to pop into Congressman Bill Johnson’s office to say hello to Bryce, a staffer in the Congressman’s office, and pick up a Buckeye created for this event by The Sweet Stop in Beverly, OH. After making the way down the rest of Front Street. to browse, explore and shop, folks grabbed a delicious frozen coffee at Jeremiah’s Coffee House. In addition to the special drinks offered for the event, Jeremiahs has the largest selection of gluten free sweets in town. The last chocolate stop was inside the Riverside Artists Gallery. The incredible pieces on display at the Gallery during the event were not the only art to be found. The Riverside Artists Gallery partnered up with the resident chocolate artist Shane, from Putnam Chocolate to provide his signature sampler box for each participant in the event.

Whether it was the wine tasting options, the chance at some of the best chocolate around or a combination of both of those decadent treats, this years Wine & Chocolate Walk was decidedly a success. With an almost sold out registration and a ton of happy faces enjoying what downtown had to offer, for this event as well as any other beautiful day in Marietta, this can only mean more exciting events to come, and a fabulous Wine & Chocolate Walk 2022 to look forward to.