Meet the beer and wine manager at area market

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

If you are a wine lover living in the region, odds are you might know George Punter.

If you love wine and don’t, you should seek him out.

Punter is the Beer and Wine Manager at Dorothy Lane Market in Centerville.

He calls this his third career and says of all of his callings that has been the most satisfying and fun.

His path to wine was not the clear path some take right out of the gate, but eventually with time he got there.

After graduating from college Punter began his career working for NCR in Aurora, Ill. in the summer of 1968, eventually becoming a district manager in Chicago.

“My life was going along nicely when an opportunity to move to Dayton with NCR (presented itself), which I took in April of 1988 after twenty years in the field organization. I moved to where I live now in Washington Twp. I was working at Sugar Camp doing sales and management training for U.S. and International. In September of 1995 I was riffed along with about 3,000 others. So after 27 years, I had to find something else to do,” said Punter.

Mid-way through his time with NCR he took a vacation and had his major “ah-ha” moment with wine.

“I had drunk wine for years but never paid much attention. I was like many people, I drank sweeter style wines that were not very good. Almaden. Paul Mason, Gallo to name a few. In July of 1984 I was in northern California with a friend from work on vacation,” said Punter. “And that was the beginning of my transformation from junk wine to where I am today. My wine life was changed when we stopped at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, Oakville. Calif.. I tasted my first wine that made me think, ‘wow this is really good.’ It was a 1981 Napa Cabernet. I started on my search to taste and buy good wines. My passion grew as time went by. I traveled to Napa and Sonoma on my own just to taste and learn more.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

A good ways into his wine journey and after parting ways with NCR, Punter and a co-worker quickly decided to form their own consulting company Learning Plus Inc. in 1996.

“Our fortunes turned when we had the chance to help Delphi begin implementing their Delphi Manufacturing System in a local plant in Vandalia. We developed a three-day seminar to train shop floor union personnel how to embrace DMS. This went along well until 2001 when Delphi went bankrupt. They no longer needed consultants and that pretty much ended Learning Plus.”

So what to do next?

”My wonderful wife convinced me to try substitute teaching, so I did. It was enjoyable but not steady enough. Because I was a good wine customer and interested in wine, I started working at Dorothy Lane Market in Centerville in February 2002. I only worked part time until I got my chance to manage one of the wine departments in Oakwood in November 2005.”

From Oakwood he went to Springboro in 2008 as the manager of wine and in May 2009 he transferred to Washington Square and has been the wine manager there ever since. Anyone who has met Punter won’t be surprised to know he fit into his role quickly with a deep knowledge that customers have come to rely on. He is affable, sharp, passionate and almost scholarly about the subject. He just celebrated his 22nd anniversary with Dorothy Lane Market on Feb. 16, 2024.

“I am one of the luckiest people I know. Dorothy Lane has provided me with an unbelievable opportunity to do something that I love, working with wine and working with customers. It’s like George’s wine shop but Dorothy Lane’s money and backing,” said Punter. “I love to help customers pick wines to go along with a simple dinner or a big meal. I get the greatest satisfaction when customers come back and tell me how good or great the wine was that I helped select. I have built many relationships with customers who trust me to make wine choices without questioning. I felt over the years I know many friends not customers.”

In a typical week when he’s not helping customers Mondays and Thursdays are busy meeting with distributors, wine makers and winery reps and beer reps with ordering and tasting happening on those days. Tuesdays and Fridays are the main delivery days for both wine and beer, lots of lifting and stocking shelves, which Punter says helps keep him moving and young. No matter what he’s doing he always has time to help customers with their wine or beer selections and most, including myself, walk away with new found knowledge and something new to try.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“My favorite thing about wine ... Wine never gets old, plus you can never know enough. The more I get to know the less I feel like I do know. Wine is history, location and climate. If you know and learn about those three things, you can become a wine person,” said Punter. “I liked geography and history growing up, I cannot begin to tell you how this has helped me to learn about wine. I like to educate people about wine and how it can change their life. Having the Culinary Center next to my store allows me to indulge my desire to learn about food and show people how wine can be a part of their everyday life.”

At the Centerville store there are wine tastings on Saturdays from noon-4 p.m. with wines by the glass and beers on tap at the wine bar. There are also food and wine classes next door at the DLM Culinary Center which Punter occasionally helps teach. The schedule changes seasonally and can be found online at

“There are three people who have influenced me at DLM. I can’t begin to tell you all that they have done. Todd Nicolai (the wine shop manager) was one of the first people I met at DLM when I was getting serious about good wine. I was a hard core Napa Valley Cabernet fan and would not listen to Todd. He worked on me for a few years and finally got me to taste wines other than Cabernet and really opened my eyes. I will always cherish him for that. Another one was Todd Templin ... he further expanded my horizons into many other wine regions. It was he who said I should come to work at DLM in wine. I was one of his best customers. Third on the list is Norman Mayne. He showed me what hard work and loyalty means and that DLM provides great service and quality. I try to follow his example,” said Punter.

Like a fine wine Punter’s palate has evolved over the years.

“I started out loving big cabernets and Shiraz for years. My palate was a New World palate. Now I appreciate Old World wines especially from Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. Hard to pin down (a favorite), I have a cellar at my house so my mood dictates what I drink from day to day,” said Punter. “Tried and true favorites are Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Riesling to name some. There are so many different ones, it all depends on you.”

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