Editor’s note: The following was written by Regan Meador, co-owner and winemaker at Southold Farm + Cellar, a true family-run small business that does not deserve the trouble the town and one over-zealous neighbor are causing his family. This probably won’t be the last post I write about this. More soon.
As of July 9th, 2015 we have been asked by the Town of Southold to cease all operations or face fines and/or jail time. We are heartbroken, to say the least. Prior to purchasing the property in 2012 we had sought guidance with the town and have been completely upfront with what we intended to do. We have been working with the town for over a year to correct an earlier error and have now found ourselves mired in grey areas, far past our simple understanding of town code. We are now in the process of requesting that the town treat us fairly and similarly to those operating in similar fashion.
The fact remains, we are steadfast in our belief that we are and should be allowed to operate as a family farm winery. When we set out on this venture we were well aware that the only way for us to make a living would be to live where we worked. In doing so, this would allow us to raise our young family, focus solely on our winegrowing and the education around that product. Rather than purchasing additional land and building beautiful facilities that could host large crowds and weddings, we would save ourselves the overhead, stay small, rely on word of mouth and just farm and sell our product, nothing more, nothing less.
The only reason we have seen success since we launched is because we’ve been able to focus 100% of our efforts on growing and making the best bottle of wine within our ability and to speak to each of you about it at length. To suddenly turn our backs and walk away from doing business like this, as it has been implied by some, would spell the end of our success both in our business and, quite frankly, our own happiness. We believe that whether you’re a chicken farmer, berry farmer or a winemaker and grape grower, the ability to live on your property, raise a crop, process it and sell it directly to the consumer has never been more vital to sustaining small farming and is ever more true in this beautiful town we call home.
At this point we really don’t know what the future will bring for Southold Farm + Cellar. We were not anticipating losing our ability to run our business as we have for over a year. Truth be told, we are terrified at the prospects of missing such a critical time of year. We hope to see each of you on the other side of this.
In the meantime, if you’d like to help, any of the following would be hugely appreciated:
Continue to buy, drink and enjoy our wine.
Write or call in our support to the Director of the ZBA: Vicki Toth – vicki.toth@Town.Southold.ny.us – 631-765-1809
Attend our Town Hall hearing and speak in support on August 6, 2015 @ 10 a.m.
Peace and love,
Regan, Carey, Coralai & Sawyer
I count Regan as a good friend. He and I have spent hours and hours and hours talking about what he and Carey hope to do with SF+C — and what they do not want to do. They have two young children living in a home just steps from the tasting room. They aren’t looking to create a tourist attraction tasting room. They don’t want large crowds on their property. They don’t want live music or DJs or dance parties and limos.
Regan wants to explore what makes his little piece of land special and share that with wine lovers. He wants to grow grapes, make wine, and raise his family. These are the kinds of people who deserve all of our help. These are good community members and citizens.