Winery Lawsuit - Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Vineyard on Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo

(Protect the Peninsula, a citizen advocacy group formed in 1979 to protect and preserve the scenic and rural character of the Old Mission Peninsula, responds to a statement by the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula published in the Gazette on Nov. 2 – read that statement here. – jb)

The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) issued a statement in Old Mission Gazette on Nov. 2. Several of WOMP’s significant errors were corrected by Peninsula Township’s Supervisor in the Gazette on Nov. 12. This addresses other problems with WOMP’s statement.

Help Support Old Mission Gazette - Click Here

WOMP indicates that they seek to preserve the beauty of our community, but what’s sought by their lawsuit is far more likely to damage that beauty than preserve it. WOMP’s legal actions speak louder than its words.

WOMP states that it’s asking for an “impact-based ordinance,” when its lawsuit really seeks to set the wineries entirely free from any Peninsula Township zoning. The lawsuit doesn’t seek changes to zoning; it seeks the end of zoning. The lawsuit shows that WOMP seeks restaurants, late hours, and unlimited events, which are clearly high-impact changes.

WOMP alleges that it reached a secret settlement with the Township in September. The Township denies an agreement was reached, and on November 15, U.S. District Court Judge Maloney agreed with the Township.

The wineries also allege that the secret settlement protects fellow residents and the rights of all community members. How would we know that when WOMP refuses to disclose the details? This effort to force a secret agreement upon the Township and its residents demonstrates a clear preference to dispense with open meetings and transparent decision-making.

WOMP’s lawsuit strays an alarming distance from our community history. In the late 1980s, vineyard owners on Old Mission Peninsula won their campaign for federal recognition of Old Mission Peninsula as a wine “viticulture” – a distinct wine region, qualifying for an appellation. This appellation requires at least 85% of the grapes to be locally grown. Since then, Peninsula appellation wines are recognized in national and international competitions.

Founding Peninsula vintners so believed in appellation that one sued in court to defend the Peninsula appellation. In 2002, Peninsula Township Trustees honored that “appellation” in the ordinance. This standard helped WOMP members prosper and stand apart in their field while assuring that Old Mission land would remain in agriculture. But now, WOMP claims this standard is holding them back and they should be able to serve wine made from grapes grown anywhere.

In 1989, Bob Begin of Chateau Chantal had a vision for an intimate hotel (chateau) to celebrate the vistas. The Township accommodated by amending the ordinance to allow it.

Again in 1998, Dave Kroupa of Peninsula Cellars wanted to sell his Old Mission Peninsula wine at the old school house because it was on a busier road than his winery location. The Township again amended the ordinance to allow it.

In 2001, after the community rejected an attempt to loosen the zoning rules for wineries in a landslide township-wide vote, the divided wineries and residents united to develop the compromise “Farm Processing” winery zoning ordinance. This new ordinance was a response to requests for a winery designation with less acreage and without a special use permit. This is another example of the wineries, the community, and the Township coming together to loosen the ordinance to meet the wineries’ requests.

Yet again, in 2004, wineries wanted to host local organizations and educational seminars, and the Township accommodated. Now WOMP claims this accommodation is unconstitutional.

WOMP claims that the 1.25 tons of grape production per guest required to establish the maximum guest count for allowed events is arbitrary, but wine industry member Jim Krupka made that proposal in 2004, and the Township allowed it.

WOMP says that the maximum event size (111 people) for a winery-chateau is arbitrary because the Township based it on the capacity of the Chateau Chantal dining room, the first winery-chateau on Old Mission and the one that petitioned the Township to allow winery-chateau events. It’s not arbitrary, and it’s another example of the Township accommodating a winery’s specific requests.

WOMP laments that Peninsula Cellars can sell logoed bumper stickers but 2 Lads cannot. These rules are not arbitrary – they were adopted at different times, in response to different requests, and apply to different types of wineries. They reflect the way this community has again and again met the wineries’ evolving desires by tailoring the ordinance to their specific requests.

And let’s get to reality: WOMP didn’t sue the Township over who can sell bumper stickers; WOMP sued because they want restaurants, venues, and events of all kinds.

The ordinance may be imperfect, but it also reflects the people and the process that developed it: winery leaders, community members, and citizen-elected township officials, who all sat down together to help the wineries succeed. Over and over for decades, this community met at a table and crafted careful compromises to help wineries while respecting and protecting their neighbors. The wineries’ demands evolved, and so did citizen concerns.

WOMP alleges that the wineries have been trying since 2008 to change these long-established portions of the ordinance. Maybe it’s taken twelve years and counting because the wineries’ demands undermine what this community so dearly values and has worked so hard to protect. And just because the wineries have been fighting for the wrong things for a long time doesn’t suddenly make them right.

The Township developed a community process in October to address WOMP’s requests and reserved three seats at the table for WOMP representatives. Yet no one from WOMP has participated. Once again, WOMP’s actions speak louder than its words.

Like all of the times this community has done so before, WOMP’s neighbors are meeting at the Township table, pens and paper in hand, ready to work with the wineries yet again to help them succeed. But this process will only work if WOMP first acknowledges that the community has legitimate interests and that these ordinances impact everyone on this unique narrow peninsula.

Board of Directors
Protect the Peninsula, Inc.

Read Also…

——————————–

We Need Your Support!

Old Mission Gazette is a reader-supported newspaper, and we need your ongoing support to keep delivering OMP news, history, photos, events and more. Owners Tim and Jane Boursaw are devoted to the Old Mission Peninsula community, and every contribution, big or small, is valuable. Click HERE to support Old Mission Gazette. Thank you!


Bay View Insurance in Traverse City Michigan

25 COMMENTS

  1. I think that you are mixing issues up to muddy the waters. The appellation issue is separate and distinct from the zoning issues at hand. in order to call your wine an old mission wine you must have 85% of the grapes in the bottle from old mission vineyards. this does not men that 85% of your grapes on your entire farm need be from old mission just that the grapes going into the bottle be from old mission. in other words if I want to sell a wine not made from at least 85% of grapes grown on the peninsula then I just can’t call it old mission wine.
    That is completely different than zoning ordinances which say for example that you must have a certain percentage of your land devoted to fruit production that will be used in wine.
    Throwing around untruths like someone tried to do with chateau Chantals Malbec only makes your other arguments suspect. Most people have not read the ordinances and unfrotuanely rely on the half truths that are bandied about by township officials and their puppet masters the PTP anti winery group.

    • Untruths? So you’re saying Chateau Chantal’s malbec comes from Michigan now?

      It does not. Sure they’re technically within the designations made — and hoenstly it’s a great malbec — but it’s a lie to claim it’s grown here, and it’s misleading to ignore the fact that they import grapes.

  2. Thank you for setting the record straight and giving voice to the citizens of Old Mission. I haven’t seen such a stark example of corporate bullying in Michigan since Nestle’s attempts to steal our water. The wineries have forgotten their place on the peninsula and are trying to fundamentally change the nature of the area…by destroying the Nature.

  3. Sometimes i wonder if people actually read and understand whath they read.
    No one is claiming chateau chantal is selling their malbec as michigan sourced.
    Marie plainly stated that it is not so labeled.
    Why don’t you head over there and buy a bottle take a picture of the label and post it here for all to see!
    Also I have not researched the federal penaties on mislabeling appelation but i bet they are stiff. So why in heck would a wonery want to mislabel its wine anyway.

    • It’s obviously you who can’t read, Lou. Stop obfuscating the issue. Does Chateau Chantel import grapes or not? All your dancing around the fact makes you look bad.

  4. “The wineries dont know their place”WOW you told them!
    Your place is to stay where ptp tells you to stay. We decide what is right for the oeninsula. And we decide who can build and what you can do out here and thats that. Stay in your place mantra sounds like the men of the rarly 20th century telling suffragettes to stay in their place. Or the gentry telling their servants to stay in their place. Or worse the masters on plantations telling their slaves to stay in their place.

  5. of course they import grapes. no one denies that. they import the Malbec grapes for their malbec wine that is NOT LABELED AS MICHIGAN APPELLATION. SO PETER It is you folks who want to first falsely state that it is labeled as Michigan wine then when you are caught with your pants down in your mendacities you switch the argument by saying well err err you import grapes tsk tsk.
    They have a perfect right to import grapes and use them in a wine.
    I guess you don’t want to buy that bottle to show everyone that in fact Chateau Chantal properly labels their wine. It would make your arguments specious and people would see how a lot of people on here don’t like facts. Better to just throw around statements that in the light of day don’t hold water.

    • Thank you for finally admitting that chateau Chantal imports grapes. You even got a little tantrum in there, but it’s nice to hear you admit you were wrong.

  6. Wineries are not deciding the judge will decide. The wineries tried to work out a compromise with the representatives of the citizens called the township board.
    Once a deal had been reached with the representatives of that board they took a different position. While some on the board felt they did not support the compromise i guess I dont understand why the ones who were at the table when the compromise was struck did not have the backbone to support their own agreed to compromise.
    Is it any wonder why the wineries do not see the committe process as productive.
    The town was in on the arbitration imposed by the court and chose not to honor the agreement that was struck. Yes it ultimately had to be approved by the board but it sure showed the way forward is not to negotiate anymore on this but rather hope an impartial judge sorts all of this out.

  7. Seth

    you must live in a parallel universe. I never said that Chateau Chantal does not import grapes nor did I ever say they try to call their Malbec Michigan wine as others have implied until Marie straightened out their attempts to malign her and her winery.
    If you need help in reading and understanding my posts I would be glad to give tutoring lessons.

  8. FYI: Louis is actually a paid shill for WOMP, and his farm is directly enriched by members of WOMP. He’s not a neutral actor here.

  9. David you better retract your false and defamatory statement.
    I am not a paid shill for WOMP. It would be nice to get money for expressing my opinion but alas no one except pop has money to throw around for shills. Furthermore, I sell my grapes to left foot charley. left foot charley is not a member of womp. if you asked first instead of shooting your proverbial big fat mouth off I would have told you that. You can call the owner of left foot to verify this. He has bought my grapes for many years.
    Unless you retract both these statements I will ask my lawyer to see about initiating a libel lawsuit against you. By the way I am also a lawyer and do not take libel lightly.
    This just shows the lies that the folks who are upset by someone who disagrees with them resort to hoping to shut down legitimate debate, but I am not intimidated by people who think they can publish lies about people and get away with it. You have two days to apologize and remove this post. I suggest you check with your lawyer and you will find that this type of behavior has serious consequences.
    And Seth if someone said the sky is green would you thank them for setting the record straight you should check libelous statements as to their veracity before expressing your thanks.
    I have to really laugh at the lows people will stoop to with no knowledge of the facts in order to silence debate. Just par for the course for you I guess.

    • Typical armchair “lawyer” who doesn’t know anything except how to throw a temper tantrum. Good luck with your libel lawsuit old man. Nice to see how angry you get when you’re called in your bullshit.

      • Youll be laughing out of the other side of your mouth. Your mother would have washed your mouth out with soap for lying.

        • Clearly you’re just a little bully who gets ruffled way too easily especially when he’s wrong. I’ll be waiting for your subpoena, liar. 🙂

  10. Oh dear My oh my! federal judge orders township to pay expenses for nixing settlement agreement and orders them back to the table. I guess David finds another lawyer this time a federal judge doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Is he just another one of your paid shills or are you smart enough this time not to libel a federal judge.
    By the way it’s interesting that the the township lawyer is hailing the judges decision to order the whole township back to the table. I guess he must have told them in their closed door meeting to vote in favor of the settlement and they disregarded his advice(:-).
    Maybe they can show some backbone now or will they have their phones ready to text the PTP people to see what they should do.
    Also if the judge was going to order sanctions on the wineries he would have done so at the same time he ordered sanctions on the township.
    The town is wasting our money, I don’t know if they are so dead set against negotiations because the insurance company is paying their bills.
    That just increases our premiums I would assume.

  11. By the way bozo I just reread your last statement. Point out where I am lying. The only lies here are ones posted by you. Did you call left foot charley yet to verify where I sell my grapes. Right you don’t want to find out the truth because it would show you up for the nincompoop you are.

    • Spoken like a true shill in the pocket for the wineries. This is why everyone rolls their eyes when you start yapping at the township meetings, Lou.

  12. what does the MD stand for Master of Deceit or Mandacity Doctorate.
    Either way either degree granted by Jackass University sums up your posts perfectly. Furthermore I wonder if you actually live or practice in the area if you are really a doctor. As I can find no Doctor Dave (David) Webb in the area.
    Finally, I am ready to serve you the subpoena you claim you are waiting for ,all I need is your address but I guess you just shoot your mouth off and don’t stand behind your silly statements.

    • HAHAHA wow you’re begging me for help just to find me. What an embarrassment you are. Do you ask your millennial kids to help post online?

  13. I’ve had Covid so haven’t been able to monitor this thread as closely as I like. There have been some good points made, but the name calling detracts from them. We are all neighbors near and far, and I hope we can respect each other with grace and love. Thank you.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
  
Please enter an e-mail address

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.