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Alpino Vino Brings a Wine Bar to Waitsfield


Published December 14, 2021 at 3:08 p.m.
Updated December 15, 2021 at 10:22 a.m.

From left: Josh Bewlay, Nan Bewlay, Sidney Bewlay and Riley Schmidt of Alpino Vino - COURTESY OF JOSH BEWLAY
  • Courtesy Of Josh Bewlay
  • From left: Josh Bewlay, Nan Bewlay, Sidney Bewlay and Riley Schmidt of Alpino Vino

Many businesses in the Mad River Valley close for a post-foliage season break in the late fall. Josh Bewlay bucked the trend: He opened his new wine bar, Alpino Vino, at 6163 Main Street in Waitsfield in late October.

"We wanted to open during stick season," Bewlay said. "I've never done this before, and we thought it would be a calmer experience."

Bewlay spent 30-plus years working in the insurance industry in the New York City area. His interest in wine started with wanting to "be the guy holding the wine list" at client dinners, he said. He took classes on wine, but he never envisioned it as more than a hobby.

In March 2020, he and his family were skiing in the Mad River Valley when the pandemic shut everything down. The family stayed in Vermont. Bewlay worked remotely until "I was ready for a change, so I quit my job and opened a wine bar," he said.

Bewlay tends to favor Italian wines, he said, but Alpino Vino features bottles and glasses from around the world. Glass prices range from $10 to $16.

"There are so many great grapes out there," Bewlay said. "I thought, Let's use this wine bar as a way for people to try new stuff."

Bewlay and his wife, Nan Bewlay, renovated the cozy, rustic space, which had sat vacant for the past few years after holding a series of pubs and restaurants. An outdoor deck with heat lamps will be open all winter.

Jack Garvin, previous manager of the Warren Store, is among the locals Bewlay has hired to join what is otherwise a family affair. The Bewlays' daughter, Sidney, a senior at the University of Vermont, comes down from Burlington on weekends to work with her boyfriend, Riley Schmidt. Over the winter break, the Bewlays' son Pierce will join the crew.

The food menu features cheese and charcuterie boards and simple snacks that pair well with wine. Of the 11 items currently on offer, nine are produced in Waitsfield. The other two are cheeses made elsewhere in Vermont.

All of Alpino Vino's beer, cider, hard seltzer and nonalcoholic offerings are also local, and Bewlay plans to host events with Vermont winemakers in the New Year.

"You won't find Bud on the menu, much to some people's chagrin," he said with a laugh. "But it's just cool that we have all these things right here, so close to us."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Valley Terroir"