• Tea and wine bar to open downtown
     | April 09,2013

    MONTPELIER — Forget about hops and coffee for a minute.

    At least that’s the wish of the Parker family, which is opening the North Branch, a dedicated tea and wine bar scheduled to debut April 15 in one side of the former Chittenden Bank building at 41 State St. Instead of a cup o’ joe or local brewski, patrons will have a chance to sip a bit of tea or taste some pretty fine wines courtesy of the Enomatic, an Italian-designed wine system that allows opened bottles to stay fresh for up to 60 days.

    “This is the first machine of its kind in the state,” said Becky Parker, who has moved back from Northern California to help her parents, Lauren and Wes Parker, open the establishment. “It’s going to allow us to serve wines that we normally would be afraid to open a bottle of because of the cost.”

    The system permits bottles of both white and red wines to be opened and stored at correct temperature, and to measure out tastings in amounts as small as 1 ounce.

    Wine won’t be the only offering, said Lauren Parker, who will preside over the tea room aspect of the business.

    “I’ve never drunk a cup of coffee in my life,” she said. “I love tea and am really looking forward to having a chance to share the benefits of calming down instead of ramping up.”

    She said the idea for the business emerged in a conversation with friends. “I was initially thinking of just a tea shop, but we were talking with friends in town about how nice it would be to have a place to go for just a glass of wine before or after a movie or show. We had no idea when we started that wine and tea are two of the fastest growing categories in the food and beverage business.”

    The wine bar will extend across the front window of their space at 41 State St., all the better to take in the streetscape. But if wine may hold sway in the evening hours, Lauren Parker promises that tea lovers will more than receive their due. The shop will hold tea tastings and a special offering of teas from the Groove Tea Project in Warren developed to encourage younger folks to try another hot beverage besides the ubiquitous coffee.

    And while the North Branch won’t be heavy on food, it promises a tapas-like menu with offerings from local food purveyors, especially bakers.

    Tea will be served from the morning on, with wine service starting in the afternoon on Thursday through Saturday. And should your laptop be giving you trouble, the North Branch will also feature a tech bar staffed by Wes Parker — all the better to combine bits and bytes.

    gayle.hanson @timesargus.com

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