Winery Hill aka Chateau Grand Traverse on the Old Mission Peninsula; Master Plan Survey
Winery Hill aka Chateau Grand Traverse on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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(Editor’s Note: This piece is written by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP), who respond to some of the recent comments about the ongoing winery lawsuit filed by WOMP against Peninsula Township. Read their amended complaint here; read all winery lawsuit news and opinions here … jb)

OMP neighbors, we hear you loud and clear! Wineries seek not to stain the community beauty, but to celebrate and preserve it via agricultural opportunities.

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Old Mission Peninsula wineries have been requesting action be taken by Peninsula Township to correct portions of the ordinance that are illegal. Wineries are not asking for rights that are not already granted to them by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission via their winemaking permits.

Wineries have been meeting with different planners and subcommittees of the Peninsula Township Planning Commission since 2008 in public sessions to address these topics – see Exhibit 1 here. After 12-plus years of talks, taking legal action was the last resort in accomplishing an update to bring the ordinance into legal standing as indicated by the Township lawyer in Exhibit 2 – see Exhibit 2 here.

In that process, wineries were asking for an impact-based ordinance – one that wineries can understand and abide by as good neighbors. One that mitigates the impact of noise, light and public safety concerns, but that does not dictate “who” can partake in a winery’s services. Progress was reached between the winery language subcommittee, planner and attendees to the numerous public meetings in 2019 and early 2020. After a draft was returned to the winery group removing many of the negotiated topics and progressive language discussed in the public meeting, it was clear progress would not be accomplished via this usual ‘ordinance language re-write’ process.

For example, the current ordinance requires a winery-chateau to buy 1.25 tons of grapes from another grape grower to earn one person at a winery event. Furthermore, that event can only be a certain segment of the Grand Traverse non-profit or agriculture community. If it’s a 111-person wedding or a 111-person dinner event for the Cherryland Humane Society – why dictate the “who” rather than focus on the impact?

Another example of arbitrary ordinance writing is the 111-person maximum at a winery-chateau event. This was written specifically for the capacity of the dining room at Chateau Chantal. Why should that maximum be applied to other facilities that may be smaller or larger? Clarity and impact mitigation are the pathway to addressing the community concerns. Some wineries did build with these rules in mind, and others worked diligently for years to create a pathway to do business.

Part of a winery’s success is driven by the natural beauty of our Peninsula. Wineries are intensely interested in preserving that beauty through agriculture and good stewardship of the land. Winery owners are made up of families, long established on the OMP. They also reside here. Through the value-added agriculture businesses established by winery families, the Peninsula has been able to keep land in ag. Where the cherry market has failed some, wineries have replaced those fields with ag, not subdivisions, and provided a mechanism for modernization and ability to survive as farmers.

Wineries are taxed commercially. The following charts show winery land as 8.4 percent of total Peninsula acreage, with wineries paying 18.2 percent of the total property tax revenue. While their vineyards and orchards are taxed as ag, the driveways/parking, tasting rooms, and winery facilities are all taxed at the higher commercial rate like Peninsula Market, the Seven Hills commercial area, or any of the restaurants on the Old Mission Peninsula.

Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula; Peninsula Township Taxes

The wineries and the Township worked together for more than 25 hours of mediation to create a settlement agreement that considers and protects our fellow residents, the wineries, and the Township. The members of WOMP (Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula) were surprised and disappointed after this negotiation that the Township refused to sign this agreement. As always, the wineries remain committed to operating our businesses in a manner that respects the rights of all community members.

Whether at a winery or a local farm, hosting events that connect visitors to our agricultural region can be done in a manner that respects our community with limits on impacts like noise and traffic. Opportunities like events provide a setting to sell more OMP products and wine. Successful OMP farms and vineyards = more green space protected from development.

Read more about the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (more recently known as the Old Mission Peninsula Wine Trail) on their website here. Also, follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

grapes, chateau chantal, job opps
Chateau Chantal Grapes | Jane Boursaw Photo


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  1. WOMP is really pushing this myth that MLCC licenses supersede local township ordinances. I don’t know what lawyer told them that but it sure won’t go well for them in court.

  2. You guys aren’t local farmers. you’re trucking in juice from elsewhere. Tell me which farmers on OM are trucking in fruit then claiming it is from there

    • If what you’re saying is true, then Chateau Chantel’s Malbec would be grown right here on OMP. Can you confirm that Chateau Chantel has Malbec growing successfully in Northern Michigan? This would contradict their web site.

      Howard’s point stands, since while this was the easiest example of WOMP wine made from grapes outside the region, it’s not the only one.

  3. I’m the CEO of Chateau Chantal. Our malbec is clearly labeled as from Argentina. Winery chateau currently do not have sourcing restrictions and never have. To the point, this is less than 5% of our wine sales. Our model is to grow and source from OMP and supplement with other wines that we can’t ripen in this cold climate.

  4. I am heartened that the OMP is pointing out some of the glaring inaccurate information being spewed by the opponents of the wineries position. It is clear from watching the meeting of the so called citizens committee ( two town board members on it and are chair and vice chair) on the winery issue that they do not want to support any of the requests of the wineries. Thus again emphasizing the need for the court to address this matter and that their past attempts to find an agreed way forward were in vain and will continue to be in vain.
    Many people are unaware that one federal court has already found local restrictions requiring grapes to be bought at certain levels locally etc as unconstitutional. While this is just one issue where the OMP will probably prevail the statement that state law does not supersede local law is just plain wrong.
    There are many cases that say they do. Do a google search if you do not have access to other legal search engines. Hint put in Michigan liquor law cases on local vs state law.
    This could all be solved by some give and take which apparently had been achieved until the town board decided it was in their own short sighted political interest to back off their initial support.
    That may be the politically wise thing to do but it show a disingenuous approach to mediation. So why should anyone trust anything the town says they will do if they will turn around and reject their own position days later.

  5. Seth suggest you read attachments noted in piece
    What “lawyer told them”that is the township’s own lawyer
    So don’t be so quick to assume its only the winery lawyer
    Greg too is of the opinion that the wineries are on solid legal grounds! Of course he will try to walk it back.

    • I’ve worked with and around liquor licenses for decades, I can very much assure you that the point that class C licenses allow for the state maximum of a 2 am closing never, ever supersede a township’s limitations. People can disagree, that’s what courts are for, but I have plenty of faith that WOMP will lose.

      • I agree that’s what courts are for. It’s a moot point anyway because the wineries have already said they don’t want to stay open until 2. It’s a red herring by the opponents.
        So I’m your opinion if the local jurisdiction said the wineries could only stay open until 1pm in the afternoon that would be legal too !
        I don’t think so.

  6. We’re not talking about “appellation” here. This is about the rules you agreed to when you set up your business. I find your comment obfuscatory.

  7. Seth

    take a look at state cases dealing with preemption. I guess according to you the lawyers on the court must not be following your decades of expertise. there is a 1935 case that still stands as good law today and has been referenced in more recent cases that says:

    “Under the broad power thus conferred upon the liquor control commission by the Constitution and the statute, it must be held that its regulations relative to the hours of closing are binding upon all licensees, and are not affected by the provision in the ordinance relating thereto.

    The conclusion thus reached is also supported by section 52 of the act, which, after specifically repealing a number of acts, provides that —

    All other acts and parts of acts, general, special or local, and all ordinances and parts of ordinances inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this act are hereby repealed.”

    I don’t know what lawyer told you that local laws supersede state laws but as you say the federalcourt will ultimately determine this and other issues.

    • Lou you’re just wrong on this topic. Look up how LARA and specifically the MLCC words their licenses. State liquor licenses DO NOT supersede township ordinances, which is why different places in Michigan have different bar closing times. All they stipulate is the LATEST an establishment can stay open, which is currently 2 AM with some exceptions to 4 AM based on current legislation and holiday times.

      This point won’t survive a court challenge.


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