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Troy seems ready to embrace new winery

This former tree nursery off Hwy. 35N could be the site of a new winery business in the town of Troy. Doug Stohlberg photo.

Wineries are popping up in western Wisconsin, and the town of Troy is no exception.

Daniel Koepke presented plans to the Troy town Board at the May 9 meeting to open Cracked Barrel Winery, 570 Coulee Trail, just off Hwy. 35N.

Koepke and his wife plan to operate a vineyard, tasting room and gift shop. They asked the board to recommend to the county a special exception permit.

The property, which Koepke was in the process of buying at the time of the meeting, is zoned ag-residential. It once housed St. Croix Gardens, a nursery and landscaping business.

Town Board Supervisor Jan Cuccia said a winery falls under the special exception rules: A limited commercial recreational activity that promotes agriculture and is unlikely to attract other commercial businesses.

Since no restaurant is planned for the site, the winery would not need to be zoned commercial. Restaurants are not allowed to operate under special exception permits.

Koepke said the plan is to serve cheese and crackers complimentary with the wine tastings. Cheese and crackers will also be for sale in the gift shop.

The couple don't plan to sell food from a menu or open a restaurant.

Cuccia was worried about "the slippery slope" of selling gift shop food that turns into a restaurant.

Koepke assured the Troy board that no restaurant would ever be opened.

Koepke said it takes roughly three years for grapes to become wine quality grapes. Until then grapes will be bought locally and from California to make wine.

The two-story winery will house a fermentation area, lab, gift shop and tasting area on the main floor. The Koepkes will live on the second floor.

Fred Martin, 483 Bauer Road, lives next door to the property. He said he and his neighbors, the Homme and Tuomala families, support the winery and are excited to have it.

The Town Board agreed to recommend a special exception permit to St. Croix County with the following conditions: Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; installed outdoor lighting must be cast downward; no restaurant food can be served; and the town review the permit in one to two years.

Koepke must apply for a liquor license before the winery can open.

Other proposed area wineries are Sixty-Five Vines, 1105 Coulee Trail, Roberts; and Bellevinez Winery & Vineyard near River Falls.

In other business, Dennis Finstad, 303 Townsvalley Road, asked the board to evaluate the water runoff problem on his property.

Finstad said the problem has worsened since Townsvalley Road was rebuilt in 2010.

This year Finstad's driveway was washed out when water dammed up and ran over.

According to Rob Jones of Cedar Corporation, the town raised the grade of the road five inches, widened the road two feet and added three-foot shoulders. Two culverts were replaced.

Finstad said a berm on his land that helped control water runoff was lessened when the road was rebuilt.

Jones said Finstad's land is low where water converges at the culverts going under his driveway. He also thought the driveway would have washed out even without road improvements because of this year's heavy snow and ice pack in the ditches.

Finstad said he wants the berm built back up and his driveway raised to alleviate the problem.

Supervisor Dave Hense agreed. He also suggested Finstad move his propane tank, since it nearly came loose from the recent snow melt and flooding.

Hense, Jones and the town road crew will meet with Finstad to discuss options and a cost estimate. They will report back at the next Town Board meeting.

The board also:

  • Accepted a bid from R.M Schlosser Excavating of Durand for the Chinnock Lane intersection project at a cost of $51,647.75 contingent on receipt of bonding and insurance. Five percent of the project cost was also set aside in case of minor changes. This project is funded with impact fees.
  • Asked Cedar Corporation to figure out a cost estimate for updating the town's transportation plan maps.
  • Approved Board Chairman Dan Pearson adding a fourth member to the Troy Zoning Authority Planning Project steering committee.
  • Learned that the Cove Boat Ramp officially opened April 26. The ramp and gangway won't be installed until water recedes.
  • Learned that Pemble's Beach may not open until the weekend of May 17 due to high water. Residents are warned to be careful of the strong river current.