Two months after it closed its tasting room for lacking the proper permits, Southold Farm + Cellar has reopened for weekend hours while it works on a full resolution with the town.
A Facebook post on the winery’s page Friday afternoon announced it will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. after taking “proactive steps this week to mitigate the major issues facing our property and our operation.”
“Now with only one issue facing the zoning board and our every intention to move forward quickly and completely with the planning department, we have decided to re-open our doors,” the post read.
Owner Regan Meador declined further comment beyond the Facebook post.
The post said re-opening will allow the winery to be able to “generate the revenue necessary to keep us afloat and pay for the upcoming harvest, our first and the first for a couple varieties ever on the North Fork.
“The last few months have been a great education for us and as we’ve said before, we look forward to being an asset to this town,” the post stated.
In July, the one-year-old winery closed its tasting room at the request of the town because Meador only had a certificate of occupancy for a single-family dwelling on the Old North Road property. Meador told northforker.com at the time he thought he could sell wine under his farm-stand permit.
The Meadors sought variances from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, including permission to operate a tasting room in an existing 400-square-foot structure to avoid costs of moving to a new facility.
“I look at [the tasting room] as a bridge for us,” Mr. Meador told the ZBA at an Aug. 6 meeting. “We have to have some ability, especially early on in our business, to prove ourselves … I don’t want to have heavy traffic or live music.”
At that meeting, several neighbors advocated on behalf of the Meadors and their plans.
Southold Town’s Attorney Bill Duffy said Friday afternoon he was unaware that the winery had planned on re-opening; the Meadors aren’t doing it with any explicit permission from the town.
Instead, he said the winery owners are making use of a “loophole” in New York State law.
“State law stays a town from issuing zoning violations while there’s a pending [Zoning Board of Appeals] application open,” Duffy said Friday. “We can only assume they’re taking advantage of that stay in the law.”
He said he expects a decision on the matter before the ZBA to come soon.
“We don’t see them being able to operate like this with impunity for an extended period of time,” he said. “If they get the variances they want, they’ll go ahead with a site plan.”
The Meadors’ attorney, Patricia Moore, could not be reached for immediate comment.