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Not everyone is happy, but Clifton winery gets liquor license

More than two-dozen residents sat elbow-to-elbow waiting July 1 to hear the Clifton Town Board’s decision regarding Shannon and Angela Zimmerman’s -- owners of Bellevinez Winery, LLC -- application for a Class B liquor license specific to wineries.

Most of these residents attended last month’s public hearing on the matter and argued against a liquor license.

Many thought a liquor license allowing the Zimmermans to sell wine by the glass and bottle would lead to larger crowds and disturb the peaceful countryside.

Residents were also concerned about more traffic on surrounding roads and the safety of walkers on those roads.

Some thought the winery, W10887 875th Ave. -- located in central Clifton, more than a mile east of County Road F -- was a smokescreen to operate as a restaurant on land zoned as general rural flex.

Others argued the Zimmerman’s application was incomplete, that the Zimmermans didn’t have a state winery permit yet.

After getting this feedback, the Town Board huddled with the town’s attorney before deciding.

At the July 1 regular meeting, the Town Board decided in favor of the Zimmermans’ request for a Class B liquor license.

Supervisor Joe Rohl, who seconded the motion, explained his support.

“There is a conditional use permit for a winery in the GRF-8 zone of Clifton,” he said. “We intended that the Zimmermans would be able to operate a winery, and they would have the tasting room, and they would have some sort of sales activity off their site.”

Addressing the argument that the winery is a backdoor way into the restaurant business, Rohl said he doesn’t think a “pure restaurant” could exist on wine sales.

While the liquor license was granted at the July 1 meeting, it cannot be issued until the successful completion of state inspection of the winery.