Owera Vineyards owner Nancy Muserlian and her attorney John P. Sidd, of the Syracuse law firm Menter, Rudin & Trivelpiece, appeared before the New York State Liquor Authority last week seeking reconsideration of the authority’s previous denial of a liquor license to the winery. During the Jan. 3 hearing in New York City, there was extended questioning by SLA Chair Dennis Rosen to Muserlian and Sidd about violations issued by local municipalities against Owera’s operating practices — violations Muserlian and Sidd said they knew nothing about.
Owera Vineyards applied for a liquor license as a “catering establishment” this past July and operated all of its 2013 events through third-party catering licenses. Last month, the SLA denied Owera’s application for a liquor license and said no further caterer’s permits would be issued to the winery. While the denials restrict Owera’s ability to bring in outside alcohol, the SLA decision does not affect the ability of Owera to hire outside caterer’s to bring in and serve food at events.
Regardless of the SLA decision, however, Owera currently is not allowed to serve food at any events in its event tent in 2014 because it does not have an operating permit from the Madison County Department of Health. That permit was not re-issued by the department for this year because the winery has two outstanding violations from the department of health: one for illegally improving their water system and one for illegally drilling a well, both of which occurred in July, said Madison County Director of Environmental Health Geoff Snyder.
According to Snyder, because Owera is on a public water system they must comply with state sanitary codes and receive health department approval before making any changes or additions to their water system. The winery added new water tanks to its system in July without informing or receiving permission from the health department, so the winery was issued a violation, Snyder said. Subsequently, the department learned that Owera had drilled a new well on its property, again without informing or receiving permission from the health department, so the winery was issued a second violation and a $300 fine, Snyder said. He said the well drilling was completed but it has not been hooked up to Owera’s water system because the health department has not yet reviewed and approved the action.