The owner of a new Northport vineyard has broken ground on the tasting room and winery building and projects a soft opening in time for Valentine’s Day.
Del Vino Vineyard is moving forward now that it has final approval and a building permit from Huntington Town officials, who had once opposed the project. The vineyard also initially faced opposition from some neighbors and the Northport-East Northport school district due to its proximity — 350 feet — to Norwood Avenue Elementary School.
“It’s a big relief,” said owner Frederick Giachetti of Northport. “It has been a long ride.”
The town issued a building permit in April and construction began last week on an existing farmhouse that will be used as the tasting room. But the old building is in poor condition and must be lifted while the foundation is replaced, Giachetti said.
The vineyard also will build a winery attached to the original farmhouse, he said.
The goal is to be open for business by Valentine’s Day, with an official grand opening in time for the spring and summer of next year.
While Suffolk County had granted agricultural status to the vineyard, Huntington Town officials introduced multiple requirements for the project, such as a ban on bus parking.
At the time, Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said in a letter to the Suffolk legislature that the county’s granting of agricultural status to Del Vino “usurped” town authority, and that county lawmakers did not understand the extent to which their approval would limit local control of the project.
Giachetti sought relief in February 2016 by appealing to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which said the town’s requirements were “unreasonably restrictive” and imposed “significant additional costs.”
Since then, town officials have worked with Giachetti on some concessions and steps required to secure all necessary approvals, and the project is now breaking ground roughly two years after the application process began.
Giachetti said he and his wife, Lisa Giachetti, “are feeling wonderful” to have reached this point, though the project has taken longer — and cost more — than anticipated.
“Knowing what I know now and looking back I probably would have thought twice about it — but we’re committed to it,” he said. “To have something like this in Northport is really something we’re all looking forward to.”