Biz Beat

New studio proves what many tortured artists already know; wine and art go great together

In the annals of two great things that go great together, wine and art is starting to rival chocolate and peanut butter.

Art and sip studios, as they are known, have been popping up all over the country and now Modesto has a new one on north McHenry Avenue. Modesto residents Lisa and Jim Cook have opened Pinot’s Palette, a painting and wine drinking art studio that offers general classes, corporate events and private parties.

Pinot’s Palette is part of a national chain based out of Texas with more than 230 studios across the United States and Canada. The Cooks decided to open a franchise after hearing about the company and visiting a location in the Bay Area. Lisa Cook, who works as a paralegal in Modesto, said she has had a lifelong love of art and painting.

“My house has so many of my paintings there is no more room on my walls,” she said. “So this is the perfect project for me and the public gets to enjoy themselves doing it.”

And, indeed, the soft opening event over the weekend was filled with smiles and laughter. You can decide for yourself whether the merriment stemmed from budding Picassos discovering their talent or, well, the wine.

The spacious more than 3,000-square-foot studio used to house the Hut No. 8 clothing boutique in the Marshalls shopping center at the corner of McHenry and Sylvan avenues. The large main studio room fits 64 and a smaller room for private parties, dubbed The Graffiti Room in a nod to Modesto’s “American Graffiti” roots, can seat 32.

The studio offers two-hour and three-hour classes for $35 and $45 respectively. Each session includes all of the supplies and step-by-step painting instructions led by one of the studio’s nine art instructors. The other main attraction is the bar at the back of the studio, which serves a selection of red, white and sparkling wine as well as beer. Because of that bar, Pinot’s Palette is only open to those 21 and over. But it does offer a mobile program for children’s parties called Little Brushes, which will come to you.

The trend of art and sip studios has been roaring along locally. This is the third such dedicated studio to open up in the area in the past year. The first was Turlock’s Rembrandt & Rosé which has since moved to a larger space in Main Street Plaza. Then in January Art Time and Sip Wine debuted in downtown Modesto on 16th Street.

Pinot’s Palette will celebrate its grand opening Thursday, starting with a Wild Wine Night session from 7-9 p.m. It has a full calendar of painting events people can sign up for, and private, corporate and mobile events can also be arranged.

Though, if you come in right now asking for a pinot you’ll be a tad disappointed. There is none on the menu — yet. Lisa Cook says she plans to remedy that in the very near future. But something tells me folks won’t mind sampling the other offerings in the interim.

Find the new Pinot’s Palette at 3440 McHenry Ave., Suite E6. For more information call 209-408-8184 or visit

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Now that we can finally give our air conditioners a little break, it’s time to turn our attention to fall fun.

So if you are in a race your neighbors to see who can get Halloween decoration up first, you’ll be pleased to know that The Halloween Guys are open again off of Dale Road in the old Ross building. The locally owned Halloween shop has 30,000-square-feet of spooky stuff for sale from costumes to decor and everything that goes bump in the night in between. This is the fifth year The Halloween Guys owner Ray Pogue has put up the seasonal shop. Pogue also owns Grand Events on north McHenry Avenue.

The store’s September hours are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Monday and Tuesday hours will start up in October, which is also when the store’s haunted house will open up Friday and Saturday nights. Find The Halloween Guys at 2936 Veneman Ave. or