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The Owners of L'Amante Bring Burlington a Wine Bar

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Published February 20, 2013 at 6:53 a.m.

If Burlington is thirsty for a wine bar, relief is on the way. This April, L’Amante owners Kevin and Kathi Cleary will open a wine mecca, Uva, steps from their College Street restaurant.

“It will be completely different than anything else in Burlington, or Vermont. It will be all things wine,” says Kevin Cleary, who is in the thick of renovations at 126 College Street to create a retail wine and cheese shop, a 36-seat wine bar and a glassed-in event and classroom area. There he’ll hold classes as part of his Vermont Wine School.

Though Cleary is mum on the planned décor of the 3000-square-foot Uva — Italian for “grape” — he does say it will be informed by the couple’s trips to Italy. “We love going to the small wine bars in Venice, Florence and Rome, where it’s a really laid-back and casual atmosphere and you don’t feel pressured to eat a whole meal,” Cleary says.

A full menu would be difficult at Uva, which won’t have a kitchen; prepared food will be carried from L’Amante. The bar — with a selection of 20 wines by the glass — will not be without sustenance, though. A hand-cranked slicer will dole out imported and local meats and cheeses alongside a menu of small plates and charcuterie.

The store will start out with about 150 bottles, mostly French, Italian and Spanish, and will eventually expand to 400, Cleary says. The initial food selection — a cheese list with Taleggio, Parmigiano-Reggiano and local goat cheeses — will grow to include a case filled with prepared sandwiches.

The event space will enable Cleary to add shorter, one-off wine classes to the longer courses in his Vermont Wine School and French Wine Scholar program. We’ll raise a glass to that.