You may be thinking, “Wait, didn’t I just finish an article about the Christmas tour?” Well, as hard as it is to believe, now is the time to start preparing again for our annual tour and tasting event. This year, we’ll feature California wines, specifically from the Central Coast of California. I lived in San Luis Obispo and is in ‘SLO’ where I was first introduced to these amazing wines and this beautiful region.
Paso Robles, north of San Luis Obispo, is an incredible wine region. The award-winning wines and my fond memories are minor reasons why I’m focusing on this region. The primary reason is the pioneer (Godfather) of Paso wines — Gary Eberle — is a Penn State graduate and Pittsburgh native. Gary co-founded the appellation in Paso and introduced Syrah grape vines into the US, using cuttings he brought over from France. At one point, his vineyard was the only source of US Syrah. His amazing story doesn’t stop there. I’ve included addresses to some articles below. (Or, get the electronic version of the Gazette at our website — alleghenywest.org — and click on the links.) I just had to share his story, and the indelible connection of Pittsburgh to CA wines.
I’ve been to the Eberle Winery many times, but never met Gary until I went to one of his events in Pittsburgh. He is incredibly personable, and is fascinating to talk with, as he imparts his vast knowledge about what it takes to get the grape to the glass. Listening to Gary talk through the science behind wine-making inspired me to put a twist on the wine tour this year. I’m introducing showcase event that I’m calling “Ground to Glass.” This will be an exclusive event at Holmes Hall, pouring only higher-end Eberle wines. The ticket will also include a lovely food pairing and a host talking with the guests on how the particular wines they’re drinking got from the ground to their glass. Eberle is also providing wine to be served at one of the homes on the tour. Gary will not be able to come to the event, but I’m working with him to ensure guests have a memorable evening.
Details About this Year’s Tour
- Price and dates: $75 pp, Friday 6/22 5:00–9:00 pm and Saturday 6/23 1:00–5:00 pm and 5:00–9:00 pm.
- Showcase Event at Holmes Hall: $150 (max 50 tickets available), Saturday 6/23 7:00–9:00 pm.
- Note that the dates are later in the month than normal due to competing events in Pittsburgh and other calendar conflicts, but good for the gardens to thrive!
How can you help? Please email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in any of the following.
- Homes: If you would like your home on the tour (focus on the garden). A total of 6 properties needed. The home must have a garden space.
- Advertising and Social Media: Work with local media outlets, promote through social media and help secure program advertisers.
- Food Committee: Work with friends to confirm the pairing menu and prep food for the event.
- Tour Guide Lead: Make sure the docents know the route, their shifts and neighborhood history to lead the guests.
- Volunteers Lead: Oversight of tour volunteers (help for the homeowners). We will need additional volunteers for the Showcase event.
- After Party Planners: Always one of the most fun volunteer opportunities!
So many of you made last year exceptional, I hope you’ll consider pitching in again this year. If you haven’t volunteered for a tour before, this is a really great opportunity to join the fun. Looking forward to getting this going and working with you!
Don’t forget to read more about the ‘Godfather of Paso’, Gary Eberle.
Submitted by Carol Gomrick
Was it smell of fresh pine from the recently hung swags in the neighborhood? Was it the bright blue skies contrasting with the chill in the air? Was it the sound of Dr. Dan’s leaf blower wiping out every trace of fall on Beech Ave? It was that and so much more which marked the coming of the 36th Annual Christmas Tour. This year, almost 1,600 people ushered in their Christmas season by walking through the lovingly decorated homes of Allegheny West. The weather was perfect, the glitches were few, and—if I dare say—by all accounts, the tour was a great success. As my first time managing the Christmas tour, I cannot thank everyone who stepped in and stepped up to make daunting tasks seem easy and the unintentionally overlooked details, a non-issue. It is truly because of you that the tour was such a success.
A very special thank you goes to the homeowners. I received a lot of feedback a how impressed the guests were with the homes this year. One guest, who has taken the tour over 15 times, actually took the time to email me directly to share that she thought 2017 was the best selection of homes she has visited to date. No doubt this guest and others came to this conclusion in no small way by the decorations at the Flashlight Factory. The re-purposing of flashlight pieces and parts was beyond ingenious, and such a tremendous addition to the tour. Congratulations to John Engle and Tom Cihil on tackling the after party. A lot of people needed some extra sleep on Sunday, so it was a great success! I would be completely remiss if I didn’t thank Tony and Diane Caruso. You both seem to always be there to jump in whenever needed and for whatever needs done. The list of how you both helped on this tour is too long to write, but beyond appreciated. Thank you.
I have to share that this tour was not without its challenges. It was the first time a service dog was on the tour. The homeowners were made aware in advance and all agreed they would accommodate. However, none of us expected a Great Dane! I should have taken pictures.
There are so many stories from the tour. Two are from the “Great Beech Ave Clean Up of 2017”. I’ll never forget Dr. Dan leaping through Beech Ave (with the greatest of ease), wielding his leaf blower like a warrior’s sword going into battle. Those leaves didn’t have a chance! OK, I’m using some dramatic license, but I’ll never be able to convince my mind’s eye from seeing a cape flowing behind him as he valiantly traveled up and down Beech Ave! My fondest memory is also from that day (not just because of Dr. Dan). Many saw Gloria Raymond and myself chipping away and cursing at the leaves stuck to the street. Trying to remove them was a formidable task. One by one, people stopped their cars, opened their front doors and came out with shovels, spades and whatever was needed to get the street cleaned and we did. The spirit of Christmas and the spirit of this neighborhood shined brightly that day. It will be forever etched in my memory as to what made this tour and what makes this neighborhood so special.
I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and I wish the blessings of the season to carry through for you in 2018.
Please contact me (email@example.com) with any feedback for how to improve the tour for 2018.
This year’s Alleys, Axles & Ales tour will be held on September 29th. Tom Barbush and Cecile Canales will be leading this year’s tour. They’re looking for garages and cars to feature, as well as volunteers to help with the tour. Please contact Cecile (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re willing to help with the tour!
The Tour is shaping up for December 8th and 9th. Here are the updates:
- Flyers are going into the mail. A big thanks to Trish Burton for coordinating the effort…once again, it went off like clockwork. Thanks also to Greg Coll for designing and managing the printing. The flyers are lovely.
A big thank you from Carol and Trish to all who helped put address labels on the 8008 (!) postcards that we’ll be sending to advertise the tour. A special thanks to Quentin Lane and Charlie and Eli Sweeney for giving up homework time to help us set a new record! We have extra postcards available should anyone want to distribute to coworkers and friends, or to post on community bulletin boards.
- Next up, putting the swags together. We’ll be meeting at Cathy and Gene’s house on December 2nd at 9:00 am Please come and help. The swags help make the entire neighborhood look so special for the tour guests. In addition to putting them together, we’ll be looking for volunteers to help hang the swags.
- We’re still on the hunt for the final house. Please consider joining the tour this year. Contact Carol ASAP at email@example.com.
- If you haven’t signed up to volunteer yet, please reach out to Doug Sprague at firstname.lastname@example.org
- There are so many people who continue to help behind the scenes to make the tour successful every year. Thank you for your efforts and support!
Submitted by Trish Burton & Diane Caruso
This Sunday, November 12th, we’ll be hosting a “Parklet Pull-out” to remove annuals. Please meet at the corner of Western Avenue & Brighton Road at 12:00 pm (noon). We’d really appreciate if volunteers could come and help out for at least a half hour.
On September 28th, the Christmas tour Kick Off meeting was held. Thank you to all who attended. Below is a summary of where we are at with the planning of the 2017 tour:
Currently we have 3 homes on the tour. We need 3 more. Please contact Carol Gomrick (email@example.com) if you are interested in putting your house on the tour.
Tour Volunteers-lead Needed
Our fearless leader, Doug Sprague, will not be able to coordinate volunteers this year. We all wish him well on his new adventure! With Doug’s absence, we need a volunteer to help coordinate the docents and other ancillary volunteer openings. Please contact Carol if you’re willing to help, or if you know someone who is. We will be sending out a spreadsheet for signups.
Trish Burton has offered to coordinate the flyer mailing activities. Tentative meeting to
address and send these out is Monday, November 6th. More details to come. Greg Coll will do the graphics and printing of the flyer. Thank you for your efforts, Greg and Trish!
Tickets, Emails and Website Updates
Cathy Serventi will get the website updated and the emails out to announce the event. I’m getting a lot of requests to purchase tickets already, so I’m sure we’ll have another great turnout this year. Thanks for all of your help, Cathy!
Tom Cihil and and John Engle are the organizers of this year’s after party. Thank you both for stepping up to do this. We now just need an after party venue!
We’re tentatively scheduling a ‘swag’ party at Cathy Serventi’s porch on Saturday, November 2nd. Tom Cihil and and John Engle will lead efforts to get these on the lamp posts. If you’re interested in volunteering to help with this, please let Carol know.
Administration (Permits, Etc)
Carol with work with Cathy to get these permits in place for the tour. There will be new banners for the tour homes this year.
Cecile Canales will be the contact person for the train tour volunteers.
A special thanks to Dr. Dan, Eleanor Coleman and Ann Gilligan – and any anonymous workers – for weeding and picking up litter throughout the neighborhood. This has made all of our jobs easier.
In anticipation of the Alleys, Axles & Ales tour on September 23rd, we’re asking that EVERYONE help to rid the alleys behind their properties of weeds and litter – most are in terrible need of attention right now!
Anyone needing trash bags and gloves (can be delivered to your front door) should email Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your continuing help in beautifying Allegheny West!
It’s time to start thinking about this year’s Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour.
This year’s tour will take place on December 8th and 9th. We are looking for homeowners who are willing to open their homes for this year’s tour. If you’re interested and able, please contact Carol Gomrick at email@example.com.
Information about volunteering for the event will be coming out after this month’s Alleys, Axles & Ales tour on September 23rd. Stay tuned to the calendar and e-newsletter to learn about the kickoff meeting for this year’s tour volunteers.
We’re seeking neighbors who are willing to open their homes (and garages) for the Alleys, Axles & Ales tour.
The target date is September 23. We also need volunteers who are willing to work in preparing and executing the tour. Please contact Carol Gomrick at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to help.
I am looking for some help this weekend at this month’s OpenStreets! I will be at a table over near the Iron Deer statue in Allegheny Commons with a table full of fun stuff and a device I use to make BIG BUBBLES =)
I will be there from 8am setting up till 1pm. Please let me know if you are willing to join me as a volunteer for even just half an hour. Any help is appreciated =)
Thank you all! Hope to see you Sunday!
Community Outreach Coordinator