- The Standing Stones Wines space during construction
The Winooski circle is getting a new wine shop. When Standing Stone Wines opens at 33 Main Street in mid-November, it will specialize in $10 to $20 bottles, owner Lil Sickles said. In 2024, Sickles hopes to add a bar and small kitchen to offer tasting flights, snacks and classes.
"For a lot of people, even investing in a $20 bottle is a lot of money," Sickles said. "That's why I'm trying to specialize in everyday drinking wines."
With those budget-conscious customers in mind, Sickles plans to organize shop displays around popular meal pairings, such as pizza or Chinese food.
"I don't want people to be intimidated," she said. "Wine is just fun."
This is Sickles' first retail shop, but she has worked in restaurants in Boston, Burlington and New York City since the 1980s. She studied wine at the French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) and has been a manager and wine buyer at Roberta's in Brooklyn and ArtsRiot, Nika, Radio Bean and Bluebird Tavern in Burlington.
- Lil Sickles
During treatment for lymphoma in 2019 and 2021, Sickles left the restaurant industry and started developing her dream wine shop. She wrote a business plan as part of Mercy Connections' Start Up class, which helped her find financing through the Vermont Community Loan Fund's Justice Forward Fund and the City of Winooski.
Standing Stone will also sell nonalcoholic beverages, local beer, and products made by BIPOC and LGBTQ artists and craftspeople, Sickles said. Each month, she will donate a percentage of sales to different Indigenous causes.
"I am an Oneida Indian; my father was from the reservation in London, Ontario," she said. "I know firsthand how unkind alcohol has been to Indigenous communities. Giving back will help me learn and share more about my culture and repay the kindness given to me when I was sick."
Sickles, a musician who plays in local bands Dad?! and the So n Sos, will throw a grand opening party for Standing Stone Wines at Winooski's Monkey House on November 11.