Winery in Townsend? Loudon group wants to make, sell wine at Apple Valley
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
A group from Loudon wants to open a winery in Townsend on property at Apple Valley Country Store on East Lamar Alexander Parkway.
Representatives appeared before Townsend Planning Commission Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of opening Cades Cove Cellars Winery on property owned by Townsend businessman Pete Maples.
The stockholders would be the Bill Birkholz family and Jerry Reed.
The group currently operates Tennessee Valley Winery, located off Interstate 75 south of Knoxville in Loudon County.
Birkholz said Tennessee Valley is the oldest winery in Tennessee in continuous operation, having opened in 1984.
The commission instructed city attorney Will Carver to research the laws regarding wineries in the state and verify whether it would meet the zoning regulations, municipal code and look into permitting requirements.
Carver is to report back at the May 10 commission meeting.
Planning Commissioner Steve Fillmore brought up a city law that prohibits the manufacture of alcohol within the city limits and questioned whether the sewer system could support the water usage required.
Birkholz said they want to locate the tasting room in a 400-square-foot existing building at Apple Valley between the cafe and quilt shop.
Manufacturing would be done on the premises while bottles of wine would be sold strictly for off-premise consumption.
The tasting room would be regulated with a limited one-ounce sample per person.
“We are in the process of leasing space from Mr. Maples at Apple Valley and are negotiating the purchase of property,” Reed said.
The plan is to build an additional building behind the current space where the wine could be produced, including fermenting vats and bottling equipment. The plan would be to have this in operation in one year.
In the initial startup, the group wants to buy the wine from another producer and bottle it in Townsend until the additional building is completed.
They would like to be open by Aug. 1.
Reed said it would be a simple winery producing 15,000 to 25,000 gallons a year in the long term.
“There is not a lot of wastewater involved,” he said.
“Most of the cleaning is done with steam, Birkholz said.
Reed said wineries are controlled by the state and can be located in a dry county.
“They are a lot more regulated than anyone selling beer,” he said.
Wineries must have permits or be inspected by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Blount County Health Department and Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Winery operators must have been residents of Tennessee for at least two years preceding and be checked out by law enforcement to make sure they have not had a felony conviction within the past five years.
“We want to do what it takes to make it legal,” Birkholz said.
Site plan needed
Mayor Pat Jenkins said he could not see the difference in the group’s plan and a package store before the production facility is constructed.
He thinks they would need site plan approval before building the addition.
Jenkins also had questions about water use and disposal, fruit disposal once the juice is removed and whether there would be noxious fumes.
The lease from Maples depends on getting the licenses required and approval of the local government.