- Craig Stevens and Naomi Clemmons
Naomi Clemmons and Craig Stevens, founders of Wild Hart Distillery, view each sip of a craft-distilled spirit as a collection of stories. And they plan to share those stories with visitors to the distillery and tasting room they'll soon begin building at 26 Sage Court in Shelburne.
Wild Hart's story starts with grains garnered through a partnership with Tom Kenyon, cofounder of Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont, who maintains farmland dedicated to organic grain growing on Clemmons' parents' property in Charlotte. Undertones of fruit, herbs and spice in the spirits point to other small-farm partnerships, both in Vermont and abroad. Says Clemmons, "Farmers are paid up-front for the goods, like grains, we hope to receive by the end of the season.
"It's amazing how much connection you can have in Vermont working with local farmers," she continues. "And we want to help people understand it all, from growth in the fields to what we end with: this delicious-tasting alcohol."
Wild Hart's forthcoming spot will make it neighbors with food hubs like Fiddlehead Brewing, Folino's Pizza, Vermont Tortilla and Bijou Fine Chocolate. Construction will begin December 1, with doors expected to open by spring 2017. In the meantime, says Clemmons, she and Stevens are working with Duncan Holaday, owner of Dunc's Mill in St. Johnsbury, to "do further research and development on our spirits."
Once open, Wild Hart's distillery and tasting room — complete with a giant glass window facing Route 7 — will be set for sample sips and tours.