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New Shop Wilder Wines to Bring Natural Wines to Downtown Burlington


  • Courtesy of Wilder Wines/Patricia Trafton
  • Sipha Lam of Wilder Wines

Burlington's bubbling wine scene is about to get a little wilder. Wilder Wines, a small bottle shop that will exclusively sell natural wines, will open at 146 Cherry Street in mid-February.

Natural wine is made from organically or biodynamically grown grapes with little or no intervention during the fermentation process; in recent years it has boomed in popularity. With Wilder Wines, Sipha Lam hopes to bring sustainably produced bottles from around the world to local wine lovers.

"For me, natural wine isn't a trend," Lam said. "It's the way that wine was made for thousands of years — it's in its purest form."

Lam, 31, first fell in love with natural wine while working at Boston's Eastern Standard restaurant. Now, the industry veteran, whose résumé also includes time as the front-of-house manager at Honey Road and many years at Penny Cluse Café, will open up shop in the former Raintree Jewelry space next to Champlain Leather. (Raintree opened a new gallery on the Church Street Marketplace in December 2020.)

Lam hopes to demystify the sometimes-cloudy world of natural wine by sharing the stories behind the bottles. Most of those bottles will be in the $20 to $30 range, and Lam plans to offer in-person tastings when it's safe. For now, virtual events will help educate customers.

"The way we eat should also be the way we consume our beverages," Lam said. "I feel like Vermont is really the place for [natural wine], with the focus on sustainability and farm-to-table. We have to set the same standards for wine as we do for restaurants and food."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Drink on the Wild Side"