Skip to main content

Norwich Wines and Spirits Closes Its Doors

Jul 26, 2023 02:43PM ● By Virginia Dean

Photo from Noriwch Wines and Spirits Facebook Page.

Voted number one in beer, wine, and spirits by Yelp, Norwich Wines and Spirits closed its doors on June 30. Owner Peter Rutledge is working on selling down his inventory of roughly 600 different wines packed into his store of 800 square feet. He is discussing handing off the business to leave it all behind.

“I need to make a clean break,” says Peter, who, according to a former Valley News journalist and wine columnist, is “one of the last knowledgeable people around about wine.” He has worked in vineyards and taught wine classes at Osher.

The decision did not come lightly, Peter says. But after putting in seven hours standing behind the counter in addition to extra hours stocking shelves and doing paperwork, he wants to take a breather. And at 57, he is the father of a three-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter who make life rich, but also take up his extra time.

“Having entered into parenthood later in life than many, my priorities now involve being with my wife and kids, my parents, and those for whom I have not found enough time for the past three decades,” Peter says.

Established in 1996, Norwich Wines and Spirits featured a carefully chosen selection of wines from around the world, specializing in smaller producers, wines that delivered great value for the price, and hard-to-find treasures for gifts and special occasions. Its beer selection focused on craft beers from Vermont and beyond. The business carried a complete range of spirits, serving as the area’s Vermont State Liquor Agency. It originally evolved from the business known as the Jug Store, a liquor store with a small amount of wine. Peter wanted to turn it into a wine store with a little bit of liquor. Yet a few months ago, he decided to only sell wine.

During the pandemic, Peter kept the storefront closed for 15 months, taking orders over the phone and leaving customers to pick up their orders placed on a table outside the store’s doors. He indicated that the process was a “grind” and had “no joy in it.” The business was revived thanks to a certified sommelier from Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. Through the years, dozens of employees have come and gone, each requiring an investment in time and energy.

“I was faced with this idea of bringing in somebody else, teaching them how everything works, building up enough confidence in them so that I can leave and have a day off here and there,” Peter says. “I just wasn’t up for doing that again. I’ve done it so many times.”

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Image's free newsletter to catch every headline