State Liquor Authority denies Owera liquor and catering licenses for second time

Owner Nancy Muserlian tells commissioners the winery will undergo ‘major changes;’ hopes brides will cancel upcoming weddings

The New York State Liquor Authority's Albany location.

The New York State Liquor Authority's Albany location.

Owera Vineyards applied for a liquor license as a “catering establishment” this past July to allow them to “provide liquor, wine and beer for consumption for an assemblage for a particular function (i.e. retirement dinner, wedding reception, private party) to which the general public is not admitted,” according to State Liquor Authority information. During 2013, Owera operated its events through third-party catering licenses, which allow a company that does not have a liquor license to hire a licensed caterer to provide the food and alcohol at the event. Owera has been catering most of its events through the Lincklaen House.

At the SLA’s Dec. 2 hearing, the commissioners ruled to deny Owera a liquor license and that while the 15 caterer’s permits already approved for 2014 should remain authorized, no further caterer’s permits would be issued to Owera. Both of these decisions were based on the number of neighborhood complaints and quality of life issues, the commissioners said.

In his Dec. 26 letter to the SLA requesting the Jan. 3 reconsideration hearing, Sidd, also an attorney with the Syracuse law firm Menter, Rudin & Trivelpiece, stated that Owera allowed its 2013 events to go past 10 p.m. because the tent was considered to be indoors. However, he wrote, “Owera Vineyards is now committed to limiting the operational hours of the Event Center for all future special events to 10 p.m. in accordance with the outside operations schedule.”

During the Jan. 3 SLA hearing, Sidd repeated this change in Owera outlook and he told the commissioners, “We are subject to site plan approval. We apologize. We did go to 11 p.m. We thought we were indoors. We were mistaken.”

After extensive questioning by the commissioners on Owera operations, Muserlian said that not only would her winery limit events to 10 p.m., but there will no longer be any outdoor music (outside the tent), no more live bands will be allowed, all amplified music will be controlled by Owera staff — although she later said during the hearing that she will not allow amplified music at all — and she will even move away from doing weddings and instead focus on educational and corporate daytime events.

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