New Blend Wine Shop co-owner Don Swensen is happy to keep the tradition of community alive and well on the KP, as he and his wife Molly Swensen move forward with their popular business. Photo by Karen Lovett, KP News

When Jeff Minch announced he was looking for a buyer for Blend Wine Shop, customers Don and Molly Swensen wanted to make sure the shop would stay the way it was.

Molly was retired from 30 years at Weyerhaeuser. Don was nearing retirement at Intel Computer Design, but he was not ready to sit around doing nothing. He decided to take an early retirement and take over their favorite hangout at the local shop.

Jeff Minsch closed the doors on Blend Wine Shop for the last time on April 26. New owners Don and Molly Swenson were busy rearranging, and restocking during a four day closure, but were ready for business on May 1.

“Blending friends, neighbors, community and the world one bottle at a time, was Jeffs slogan,” Don Swensen said. “With a few minor tweaks, it will be business as usual.”

The familiar shelves stocked with wine have been moved to the other side of the room and into the smaller alcove. Additional shelves were purchased to line the walls at that end to display a greater wine selection.

According to Swenson, moving the wine to the smaller end of the store gives the appearance of being in a cozier, more traditional winery. At the same time it opened up the wider space to accommodate larger crowds. The fireplace is now in a more central location closer to the door. There is still an outside area out back for those who prefer to be outdoors.

He said the the community of knitters are continuing to meet there and other groups are welcome. There is no charge for meetings on the premises, but attendees are expected to make a purchase.

Don Swenson said that plans for live music one Saturday a month are in the works, soloists or duos of local or possibly touring musicians. Words and wine is expected to gear up again in the fall. He expects the shop will benefit from entertainment and increase the clientele.

Molly Swensen is president of Two Waters Art Alliance and there will be continued support for local artists to display their work, she said.

An abundance of talented artists living on the Key Peninsula guarantees an ever-changing view gracing the walls of Blend. Watercolors by Leila Luginbill have continued through the changeover, but another artist will rotate in following her.

Friday, May 16, Blend held a fundraiser for Evergreen School, a paella dinner. The three paellas took four hours to prepare outback on propane burners by four cooks, Ted Olinger, Scott Dervais, Thaddeus Dickson and Phil Bauer.

According to organizers, three pans holding 40 servings were gone in 15 minutes and $600 earned in donations was given to the school for prizes for children competing in a walk-a-thon.

Saturday, May 17, the Chili Cook-off was held at Blend. Contestants did the actual preparation at home, but brought in their entries for taste testing. A past winner, Ted Olinger, and Chuck West were the judges of this years competition. Judy Rach took first place, Jon Buday came in second with and Rob Vajko placed third.

Wine tasting will continue every Friday night from 5-7p.m.

The shop is located at 8914 Key Peninsula Highway N., Lakebay, For hours and information, call (253) 884-9688 or visit blendwineshop.com

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