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Mattituck Sherwood House Vineyard Could Reopen This Month

Pending health department approval, attorney for proposed open-air vineyard tasting facility pushes for porta potties at the Oregon Road site.

With most permits in place for a new site plan approval for the Mattituck tasting location of Sherwood House Vineyards, owner Barbara Smithen and attorney Patricia Moore pushed the Southold Town Planning Board at a meeting Monday night to allow the winery to open for business pending Suffolk County Health Department approval of restroom facilities yet to be built.

Smithen and Moore have been working with the Planning Board for about two years to revamp the design of the Mattituck tasting site, located in the midst of grapevines on a corner parcel of preserved land between Oregon Road and Elijah’s Lane in Mattitick. Smithen and husband Charles planted those grapes in the mid-90s and operated a rustic, outdoor tasting facility for years before the town ordered the winery to cease and desist operations in 2010 due to concerns that the winery was not conforming to town code.

The new outdoor facility, which includes two patios, are not located on preserved land and parking has been relocated and is contained to onsite stalls. But because Sherwood is waiting for health department approval before building a restroom, Planning Board members debated whether to allow the winery to open for the tail end of this fall season.

Moore argued that two years of no business at this location has been a tremendous financial burden on Sherwood and that customers could use porta potties in the meantime.

“Every winery in town is allowed to have porta potties on site when there are excess customers — I don’t see why we can’t put them up until the permanent restroom is built,” Moore said.

Moore added that a tasting room proposed in July of 2011 by Lieb Cellars, which is located about two miles to the east of the Mattituck Sherwood location, is now open for business, while Sherwood, “with only open air structures is still slogging through this process.”

“We need relief,” she said.

Planning Board member James Rich said that he thought that the application needed to move forward at this point despite pending health department approval. Planning Board chairman Donald Wilsenski agreed that there has been hardship during this application process but he was concerned that this application would set a precedent regarding health department approval in the future.

“But this is the first application of its kind you’ve had to deal with,” Moore said. “It’s crucial that we open.”

What do you think? Tell us in the comment boxes below.

Erin Schultz (Editor) October 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Dan's Bike Rental Greenport said on Facebook: "Thanks heavens, their Elijah's lane "Shed in the Fields" tasting experience was the best out here."
Ami Davey October 03, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Let's hope they open! One last month to enjoy the rustic, peaceful, country tasting experience in the field.
Big2112 October 03, 2012 at 03:53 PM
SherwoodHouse's open tasting room is the best reason to visit the North Fork!!! It is such a shame what "the powers that be" are doing to a wonderful vineyard experience!
j wallace October 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I really hope they open too. It is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the North Fork.
jess October 08, 2012 at 02:56 PM
It would be so sad if they did not open this amazing tasing room back up. It is a great tasting experience and everyone should have the opportunity to experience it.

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