Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Rivendell Winery and Vintage New York Forced to Close
THIS IS HORRENDOUS! THIS IS A SAD SHAME! THIS IS A CRIME! IT IS A CRIME AGAINST NEW YORK STATE WINE, AGAINST AGRICULTURE, AND AGAINST EVERYTHING THE HUDSON VALLEY IS KNOWN AND LOVED FOR! AND IT IS A SHAME THAT SUCH A SAD END SHOULD COME TO SUCH A WELL-LOVED WINERY AND TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE DONE SO MUCH FOR NEW YORK STATE WINE!
Bob Ransom and Susan Wine were instrumental in helping raise awareness of New York State wine, through their own winery, the founding of wine trails, the new Hudson Valley website, and many other events, meetings, etc. It is a shame the neither local government nor Ransom and Wine could find some solution, even if temporary, to halt this end...especially for two people who have done so much for the greater good. No one won this battle - we all lost. We all lost.
PLEASE READ THE NOTE POSTED ON THE RIVENDELL WINERY WEBSITE
ALSO GO TO HUDSON VALLEY WINE GODDESS AND READ HER AS WELL!
Vintage NY's website says simply:
After almost 10 years of extolling the bounty of New York wines and foods, Vintage New York has closed it's NYC locations.
Don't forget to support your local farms. It is the future as well as the past.
Rivendell's website says:
For the past two years, we have been embroiled in a fight to move our winery to our new property at 507 Albany Post Road - just three miles up the road - closer to New Paltz and the Thruway. Stylish and comfortable, our new tasting room will sport magnificent views of our beloved Shawangunk Ridge and will soon overlook our new vineyard plantings.
Unfortunately, there are some in our community who do not believe that a winery is a desireable feature and have in engaged in a campaign of ruthless opposition. After months of public hearings and back-room dealings, the Building Department and the Zoning Board of Appeals of New Paltz delivered a stunning decision: a winery is not an agricultural use and therefore cannot be allowed in an agricultural zone! Though they were supplied with testimonials and recommendations from such experts as the NYS Commissioner of Agriculture, the NY Farm Bureau, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, numerous attorneys and other wine industry experts - even in light of a recommendation strongly in favor of our proposed use from the Ulster County Planning Board solicited by the Zoning Board - they instead choose to ignore all reasonable interpretations of the definitions of agriculture that have stood the test of time in every other arena in order to re-define agriculture with the express purpose of denying us our constitutional right to use our property as it was zoned.
Their logic was based on the mis-interpretation of NYS tax law that makes the land underneath buildings that are utilized for processing, sales or farmowner housing ineligible for an agricultural tax exemption. They extended that tax criteria to mean that those activities taking place in a building on a farm do not qualify as agricultural. BY DOING SO, THEY HAVE MADE VIRTUALLY EVERY FARM IN THE TOWN OF NEW PALTZ A NON-CONFORMING PROPERTY. It is no longer legal according to town law to milk a cow, bake a pie, ferment cheese or even pack apples into a box inside a building! Preposterous!
We were left with no choice but to file a lawsuit against the Town to try to get this capricious and anti-agriculture ruling overturned. In a truly horrendous decision, the NYS Supreme Court Judge in the case sided with the Zoning Board putting us now in the position of having to file an appeal.
In the meantime, the finacial burden of not only having to carry two properties, but also expend the significant resources to fight the legal battle, all at a time of a worsening economy, has proven to be too much for our 20 year old little company to bear and we have been forced to close our doors.
To all of you who have supported our fight, we thank you. And we hope to see you in a tasting room in the future. In the meantime, keep buying and drinking local. It is the future as well as the past.
In vino veritas,
Robert Ransom and Susan Wine
For those who would like to weigh in and voice your opinion, feel free to write a letter to the Editor of the New Paltz Times at firstname.lastname@example.org, (New Paltz Times, 259 Main Street, New Paltz, NY 12561) or write Toni Hokanson, Supervisor, Town of New Paltz, 1 Veterans Drive, New Paltz, NY 12561.