River City Winery-2.jpg

Opened in 2009 at the historic Baer Building, River City Winery served up to 30 varieties of wine, but has been without a liquor license since Aug. 21. 

NEW ALBANY—The future of River City Winery remains up in the air after a Tuesday zoning appeals meeting.

The New Albany Board of Zoning Appeals voted 3-0 to table a motion on a land use variance regarding River City Winery proprietor Gary Humphrey's request to use his home at 1800 Old Vincennes Road in New Albany for wine production. Board members Marcia Booker and Steven Schmelz were absent from the meeting.

The River City Winery location on 321 Pearl Street in New Albany has been closed for months, and Humphrey is going through possible liquidation of the property with his ex-wife, he said. If the liquidation occurs, he would like to acquire a farm winery license for Old Vincennes Road and maintain the winery's tasting room in Franklin.

He also grows grapes at a vineyard in Washington County. However, if he loses the Pearl Street facility, he will not have enough space for wine production, so he wants to use the Old Vincennes Road property until he finds another location.

"If [liquidation] happens, River City winery will not have a place to go," he said. "This plan is a backup plan."

Humphrey is also looking at three other locations in Jeffersonville, Seymour and Evansville for additional tasting rooms, he said. If approved, the land use variance for the Old Vincennes Road property would be temporary, and it would need to last about three years.

While he is considering presenting private events and tours, there are no plans to create a tasting room or restaurant at his property on Old Vincennes Road. He hopes to move the wine production to a pole barn and plant additional grapes on the property, where he would be the only operator for the most part, he said.

At the meeting, a number of residents voiced opposition to Humphrey's request to move his wine production into a residential area. Several expressed concerns about agricultural runoff, including the use of pesticides and fungicides for the grapes.

Many discussed safety concerns regarding traffic and speeding on Old Vincennes Road. Susan Johnson Nguyen, who lives near Humphrey's property, said she is concerned about the "integrity of the neighborhood," and she does not want to see any kind of business operation in the area.

Board members cited the absence of two members and the need for additional information as reasons to table Humphrey's request. Board member Daniel Riggs said he would like to have input from New Albany's wastewater department about possible waste issues before making a decision.

OPIOID ADDICTION CARE

The board voted 3-0 to approve nurse-practitioner Shannon Witt's request to open an opioid treatment service at her primary practice, which is located at 2708 Paoli Pike Suite in New Albany.

She already treats primary care of illnesses such as diabetes, anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance abuse at the facility. The opioid treatment services would include counseling, and she would not dispense medications onsite.

Recommended for you