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Stemwinder Celebrates A Passion For Food & Wine

By Elisha Neubauer

Four years ago, friends Wendy Neal and Leslie Stuart set out on a new adventure in life. The pair shared in a passion for great food and even better wine. As operators of their own independent businesses, The Wine & Cheese Depot and A Catered Affair, they wanted to put their collective minds together and bring a new venue to the Ludlow area.

Trying to create a memorable experience from start to finish the pair thought long and hard regarding the eatery's name. After much debate, they settled on the term Stemwinder due to its double meaning. The term had been used to reference both a wine glass stem and a depot. As the location for the new venue was on Depot Street, the duo thought it was a fitting name for their new venture.

The Stemwinder menu features Vermont cheeses, meats, produce, and other food products. The beverage list contains a variety of Vermont spirits and always highlights a Vermont winery.

"We recognize the passion, hard work and commitment to quality that Vermont farmers, cheesemakers and food producers put in to their products," Stuart said. "It is a privilege to showcase the fruits of their labor in what comes out of our kitchen and bar."

To keep things fresh, Stemwinder's daily specials change frequently. This allows Neal to present items that they are finding particularly fetching at that moment in time.

"The handmade thin crust pizzas with seasonal toppings are crowd pleasers," Stuart said. "They have been a hit since we opened."

As for wine, they have been working with the Steininger Kamptal Gruner Veltliner from Austria. This citrusy/spicy white wine is delicious and works with many of the items on the menu. Steininger is a small family owned and operated winery that makes beautiful wine. Their "Wine by the Bottle" list also features some of Steininger's single-vineyard bottlings.

The menu is not the only wow factor you'll find at Stemwinder. The business duo worked hard to build a distinctive appearance, one that will capture your attention from the moment you walk in the door. The downstairs portion of the venue features a decorative soapstone bar and small tables. Upstairs in the mezzanine you'll find two large farm tables, reminiscent of the communal dining days. The walls are decorated with rustic, historic patterns from an old Rutland factory and donated old regimental flags hang from the ceiling rafters. While the décor is particularly fetching, it is the open kitchen that seems to hold most guests' attention.

"People often comment on how much fun it is to watch Wendy and her team create so many interesting and delicious dishes in such a small space," Stuart said. "Our hope is that people walk away saying the food was delicious, the staff was friendly and attentive and that they can't wait to return."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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