Local Business Profiles: Peter Rutledge, Norwich Wines and Spirits & Jeff Wilmot Painting


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Village Green Publishing

Peter Rutledge, Norwich Wines and Spirits

I’m sure I am not alone by saying that I really enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time, but am a bit intimidated by the vast array of wines available in the marketplace. Should I stick with American, or are European wines my best bet? Which variety of grape would be most to my liking? When faced with so many options, it might make the most sense to ask the advice of a professional who is knowledgeable of wines and of the industry.

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Enter Peter Rutledge, owner of Norwich Wines and Spirits. For over 20 years, Rutledge has operated this gem of a store in the Burton House on Elm Street. Those who come to the store to buy their wine are able to take advantage of Rutledge’s vast experience regarding wines, and which wines will most likely suit that customer’s taste.

A 1988 graduate of Dartmouth College, Rutledge worked as a bartender, and later assistant manager at the Simon Pearce Restaurant after graduation. While working there, Rutledge says his restaurant manager was passionate about wine, and passed that passion on to him.

After leaving the Upper Valley, Rutledge moved to the San Francisco/Sonoma area of California, and worked in various facets of the wine industry, including helping to plant, and care for vineyards.

In the mid 1990’s, Rutledge returned to the Upper Valley, and soon after bought the store in Norwich which is now home to his retail operation. Upon taking ownership of Norwich Wine and Spirits, Rutledge expanded the store’s wine selection, establishing the reputation of the store as a place to find great wines and great advice about buying wines.

So how does Rutledge choose wines for his store, and how does he advise his customers when selecting wine? “It’s based on taste,” says Rutledge. He says that wine reps regularly bring new wines for his consideration. “Every week, I see a handful of new wines,” Rutledge says. When considering new wines, Rutledge says he will taste the wine, judge it, then determine into what price range the wine should fall; if his appraisal matches the price of the wine, it is a candidate for his selection. With seven different wine distributors offering various wines in Vermont, Rutledge says wine drinkers in the state have access to a great selection of offerings.

Wine customers also have a wide range of prices when searching for a wine selection. For those on a budget, Rutledge says his store offers a nice group of wines priced under $10.

Are wines from a certain geographic area better than others? “So many parts of the world produce good wines,” Rutledge says, adding that those same areas can also produce poorer quality wines. Rutledge says often, “People generalize too quickly,” regarding wines. For instance, if one finds a wine from a region they like, or dislike, they should not automatically assume that all wines from that same area will be similar.

Though one may think an entrepreneur in the wine business would travel extensively, Rutledge says this is not the case. Running the store is a full time commitment, though other interests occupy his time, too. “I’m avid about sailing and vintage cars,” says Rutledge, adding that spending time with his wife, Charlotte, and their new daughter, Sophie, is the most important aspect of his life.

Contact Norwich Wines and Spirits at 802-649-1970, or by email at norwichwines@aol.com.

~ Frank Orlowski

Jeff Wilmot Painting

Summer is the time when homeowners turn their attention to taking care of the home, particularly the outside projects. Landscaping, masonry, roofing, and exterior painting are projects that come to the forefront in summer. Exterior painting is particularly weather dependent, with dry, warm conditions optimal for effective exterior painting.

One Upper Valley painting company with a long history of caring for area homes is Jeff Wilmot Painting & Wallpapering. Jeff Wilmot has owned and operated his firm for over 30 years.

Wilmot has spent his life working in the construction trades, starting with working for his father, who was a builder in Connecticut. Later, he worked with a painting contractor there, developing his skills in interior and exterior painting. Deciding it was time to start his own business, Wilmot moved to the Upper Valley in the mid 1980’s, and opened his painting firm.

Not surprisingly, Wilmot works on many older and historic homes. Many considerations come into play when working on old homes. When considering painting these homes, Wilmot says homeowners are concerned with retaining the historic value of the home. Dealing with lead paint removal is another consideration with older homes. State certification is required for those working with lead paint removal from an older home.

Historic buildings Wilmot’s firm has painted are scattered throughout the Upper Valley. Locally, Norwich residents may know Wilmot handled the painting of the Norwich Historical Society’s building on Main Street.

Weather, of course, provides many challenges for Upper Valley painters. For exterior jobs, “We don’t have a long season,” says Wilmot. Mid- to late-April is the earliest the exterior painting season begins, with late October usually the end.

Exterior painting is not the extent of Wilmot’s business. He also does interior painting, floor refinishing, and wallpapering. As those of us who have attempted wallpapering know, this is a challenging task, with knowledge and experience being crucial in success. Wilmot has considerable experience in wallpapering, including handling the wallpapering job at the Lake Morey resort several years back.

Wilmot employs eight full-time people in his business, all of whom have worked anywhere from 5 to 30 years for him. Though he does take on commercial projects, Wilmot says most of his work is with residential homeowners.

It is fun to hear from those involved in a life-long occupation, if they had chosen another career, what would that be? As is true with many, Wilmot’s answer is simple; “I don’t think I would want to do anything else.”

Contact Jeff Wilmot Painting & Wallpapering at 802-763-2055. 

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