Micro-winery Process Sealed With Council Approval
Don Guya (maroon shirt, center) reacts with a smile as the City Council approves a zoning amendment allowing his new business to operate outside of a manufacturing district. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
Though it likely won’t open its doors until next spring, a new micro-winery has been given formal approval to operate in downtown Stevens Point.
Sunset Point Winery LLC is owned by Don and Kelly Guay of Stevens Point. The couple says they’ve been brewing small batches of fruit wine in their home as a hobby, but plan to step up their production and make their business a “destination” in the downtown area.
The business will likely open next spring and will be located inside the former Point Bakery II building on Water Street.
“There’s a lot of permits and whatnot we need to apply for- the next step is the federal license we need, and a state license, and we also need a food processing license,” said Don Guay. “But knowing where we’re going to be, where the business will be located- that was a big step. That was the first step, to identify where we’re going to do it.”
Guay said after a lot of trial and error, they plan to offer 8-12 different wines from the winery.
“But you name it, we’ve tried it,” he said. “We do a lot of fruit wine; we love cranberry. Cran-raspberry is one we’ll probably roll out because that’s one our favorites. After that, sweet, spicy mixes and probably some citrus.”
“We’re absolutely trying to create a ‘destination’ location; the average winery gets about 6600 visitors per year,” he said. “Ultimately, to be successful, we need foot traffic. The downtown area is beautiful, all the renovations are attractive, and we think the Point Bakery building has got great appeal, so it’s a great fit.”
Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski said the new business would be subject to a 2- year conditional use permit and operate with a Class B Wine License. The production area is 10,000 square feet, but Ostrowski said the city would place no restriction on the volume of wine the new company could produce.
“A lot of communities now are looking at allowing small- scale alcohol production facilities; micro-breweries, micro-pubs, micro-wineries, that sort of thing, within their entertainment districts as opposed to a manufacturing district,” Ostrowski said, adding the business owners, Don and Kelly Guay, would be required to get approval from the Historic Preservation/Design Review Committee before making any changes to the exterior of the building.
Provided the Guay’s obtain all the appropriate licenses, Sunset Point Winery would become the latest in small-scale breweries which have opened their doors over the past several years, including Plover’s Great Northern Distilling and O’so Brewery & Taphouse, as well as Central Waters in Amherst.
The Common Council gave its unanimous approval Monday night in making an amendment to zoning which would allow the winery to operate outside of a manufacturing district.