Unique Wines Meet Town Charm in Burlington, Vermont

This college town is home to a budding food and drink scene with a "local first" mindset.
Hen of the Wood / Photo by Peter Cirilli

Rising from the banks of Lake Champlain, Vermont’s largest city has always been home to an eclectic mix of college students, activists and artists. It’s also long been synonymous with craft beer, dating back to the early days of microbrews. Now, a new generation is invigorating Burlington’s food and drink scene, and the city is rapidly attracting crowds of wine and cider enthusiasts with the same Vermont-minded, “local first” mentality.

Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar
Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar / Photo by Jessica Sipe

Wine Scene on the Rise

Natural, small-production and experimental wines are an important part of the local drinking culture. You can sip and stock up at Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar. About 45 minutes away, in the ski town of Stowe, Cork Wine Bar & Market carries a variety of natural wines that you can enjoy by the glass at the wine bar/restaurant, or purchase by the bottle in the shop.

Try a co-fermented “vinous cider” at the new CO Cellars, an urban winery and tasting room collaboration between Krista Scruggs’s ZAFA Wines and Shacksbury Cider.

If you’re looking to enjoy a full meal with your wine, Honey Road, a newer addition to Burlington’s dining scene, specializes in Eastern Mediterranean mezze made with local ingredients. It also has an exciting wine and beverage list that feaures a mix of Old World and New World bottles, including those from local producers like Deirdre Heekin at La Garagista.

Man next to a pallet of beer, raising a pint of beer
Photo courtesy of Foam Brewers

Other Potables

While wine options are plentiful and exciting, it would be a shame to miss out on the local cider. Sample some within city limits in the tasting room at Citizen Cider.

The caffeine scene here is also excellent. Muddy Waters, a coffee shop that feels more like a tree house, serves fresh-made juices, kombucha, local beers and small bites.

You can’t come to Burlington and not have a beer, so be sure to stop by Foam Brewers, overlooking the lake, or Zero Gravity, in Burlington’s South End Arts District.

Nearby Stowe is also home to the legendary Alchemist Brewery, where you can taste and purchase the cult-favorite Heady Topper. The von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall near the top of the mountain offers beautiful views from an Austrian-inspired beer hall that evokes a modern-rustic vibe.

Honey Road
Honey Road / Photo by Kristin Teig

Have a Bite

Get up early to get your hands on a fresh, warm baguette at August First Bakery & Cafe, a bright and airy downtown spot that offers European-style breads and pastries out of a converted garage.

A farm-to-table Vermont institution, Hen of the Wood hosts a popular daily $1 oyster happy hour. If you want to get a seat at the bar, arrive promptly at 4 pm, and the restaurant’s namesake Hen of the Woods mushroom toast is a must. For a more laid-back dinner, go for thin-crust Neapolitan or square Sicilian pies at Pizzeria Ida, a BYO spot in Burlington’s Old North End. You’ll also find a great array of burgers and poutine, as well as plentiful local beers on tap, at long-standing music hall Nectar’s, where the band Phish got its start.

Church Street Marketplace
Church Street Marketplace / Photo by Denis Tangney

One-Stop Shopping

Independent businesses are alive and well here. To enjoy the city’s locally made, earthy ethos, take a stroll through Church Street Marketplace, a four-block pedestrian mall. Crow Bookshop, which sells new and used books, is a standout, as is Frog Hollow on the Marketplace, where you’ll find Vermont-made crafts. Bars in this area range from tiki to Irish pub to a distillery, and the food is equally eclectic. Cap the day by treating yourself to a box of gourmet chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates.

Published on March 12, 2019
Topics: Travel


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