- Wines and ciders from Vermont producers at Schmetterling Wine Shop
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Middlebury's Schmetterling Wine Shop fluttered with customers in search of perfect holiday pours. Shop owners Erika Dunyak and Danielle Pattavina offered tastes of natural wines from near and far, explaining the Alpine terroir, farming and winemaking practices of the vineyards that had produced each bottle.
"It's going to be a tasting exactly like this," Dunyak said, "except you're talking to the winemakers."
The fair is open to the public and will offer attendees a chance to try low-intervention wines from Vermont producers such as La Garagista Farm + Winery, Iapetus, La Montañuela, Ellison Estate Vineyard, Kalchē Wine Cooperative, Fable Farm Fermentory and Stella14 Wines — poured by the winemakers themselves. The fair's definition of "wine" includes fermented grapes, apples, honey, berries and other fruits. The lineup also features local producers of ciders, meads, coferments and other creative fermentations, as well as winemakers from Maine, New Hampshire, Ontario and New York.
"It's a place to showcase the incredible wine that people are making here — and how serious the wine is," Dunyak said. Many consumers are still unfamiliar with Vermont-made wine, she said, and don't realize how the industry has grown over the past decade.
In addition to the tastings, the Vermont Wine Fair will hold panel discussions on the climate crisis and interindustry collaboration. The timing of the talks is to be determined.
"We like to have fun, but it's way more about wine education than it is a party," Dunyak said. "I mean, it's on a Sunday afternoon."
Both Dunyak and Pattavina have backgrounds in event production — Pattavina in weddings and Dunyak in academia. They've created the nonprofit Center for Food Culture to host the fair, though Dunyak was quick to call the event "a little homespun."
"We're hoping people learn about what this Vermont Wine Fair could look like with us," she continued. "Just getting people in the room together is the first step — creating space for some winemaker community."
The Kalchē Wine Cooperative team has been on the wine fair circuit this fall, attending events such as RAW WINE in Montréal, the Karakterre wine salon and the Wild World Festival in New York City, and Peripheral in the Hudson Valley. With the Vermont Wine Fair, the team is excited to promote its wines closer to home.
"I think it's really great timing for us as a Vermont wine industry," Kalchē cofounder and director of external business Justine Belle Lambright told Seven Days. "The people who were here before us — Deirdre Heekin, Ethan Joseph — they have been laying the groundwork for us to be able to have a drawing event like this for a long time. Vermont is making a huge splash in the wine world, and it makes sense for people to be focusing on us — especially people right in our backyard."