Red and white palette

Erika Noriega

Photo courtesy of Painted vino

Erika Noriega moved to Chico to be with her fiancé Jason Pigg (aka J. Pigg of local rap crew The Hooliganz), and in an effort to meet new people and connect with the community, the couple started hosting painting and wine-drinking events this past September. Painted Vino is now a business and a regular happening—once or twice per week—and each session includes instruction from a professional artist, painting supplies and a complimentary glass of wine. The images to be painted are pre-selected, and can be found on their website at ahead of time. They can also be hired for private parties and soon will be expanding into Sonoma County.

How does Painted Vino work?

It’s a paint class paired with wine, and you can come with a group of friends, or you can come by yourself. By the end of the event, you pretty much leave with a group of friends. So it’s building a community within a community. For $40, we set you up with everything you need for the paint class, [plus you receive] one complimentary glass of wine. You get instruction from a professional artist; all the artists are local to the area. We are not licensed to sell wine, but we have a really nice partnership with Wine Time, and other venues. They provide the wine, and after the first glass you can continue ordering from their menu.

Who are your art instructors?

We have Gary Baugh, who sat on the Arts Commission here in Chico; Brandon Simpson, who’s been commissioned for a couple of murals since his work with our company; and Brittany Balcom is a Chico State alum who will be teaching her first class in January. We’re going to be hiring one more person as well.

Were you looking to start a business?

It started off as what I believed would be a hobby, maybe once or twice a month. Now we’re averaging anywhere between one and two times a week, and we’ve been really well-received. It’s turned into this small business, which is a learning process for me.

How do you choose the images for each class?

We purposely choose images to set up our guests for success. We don’t want to overwhelm them. The point is not to walk out a professional artist; the point is to have a good time, and walk out with something you’re proud of. I can say, almost 100 percent of the time, everyone’s really happy with their painting. It’s a really good time to see their process—walking in and feeling a little anxious, saying things like “I’ve never done this before,” to walking out and saying, “I really created this!”