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Cutchogue vineyard shuts down after state suspends liquor license

The attorney for Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue on

The attorney for Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, offered a no contest plea to cancel the winery's liquor license and it was accepted, officials said. Credit: Randee Daddona

The owners of Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue — the subject of complaints from neighbors about public sex, fighting and intoxicated patrons — have canceled their liquor license and will close permanently, officials said Wednesday.

The closure comes after the State Liquor Authority on Oct. 5 suspended alcohol sales and consumption at the County Route 48 winery, and follows years of reports to police about disruptive activities on or near the property.

A hearing on charges brought by the authority against the winery had been scheduled for Thursday but spokesman Bill Crowley said Wednesday that the winery’s attorney, Peter Sullivan of Manhattan, on Tuesday offered a no contest plea to cancel the license and it was accepted.

Crowley said the agency’s board met Wednesday to decide whether to accept the cancellation bid. Sullivan said the business had been closed since the suspension.

“We accepted the offer of cancellation. That terminates the license,” Crowley said. “We had the town supervisor, police officers and neighbors lined up to testify.” He added, “We have about 400 wineries and none of them seems to be [operating] this way.”

In an email sent Wednesday, Sullivan confirmed the cancellation offer from winery owner, Joseph Paul Winery Inc. Sullivan could not be reached for further comment.

“Our code enforcement [officers] and police have been observing the winery for a while and there’ve been a lot of different zoning violations and over intoxication and fights,” Town Attorney Bill Duffy said. “They’ve kind of thrown in the towel and surrendered the license.”

Crowley said the winery opened in 2005 and that its last three-year license was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2019.

If the winery wants to reopen it would have to reapply, Crowley said, adding that if any other business tries to take over the operation, it would be subject to “extra scrutiny” to make sure it was not the same establishment operating under a different name.

In a news release from the agency at the time of the suspension, Liquor Authority counsel Christopher R. Riano said, “Vineyard 48 has amassed a disturbing record of repeatedly serving patrons far beyond the point of extreme intoxication, straining police resources and wreaking havoc on their neighbors and the surrounding community.”

Sullivan said at the time that the allegations were not true and that the winery had the “largest and most comprehensive traffic and security group in the North Fork.”

According to the agency’s release, the Liquor Authority ordered the emergency suspension of business at the winery on Oct. 5 during a special meeting convened after Southold Town police received calls on Sept. 30 from residents about “two patrons engaging in sexual acts in view of their backyard bordering Vineyard 48.”

Later the same day, police were called for an altercation involving 400 patrons, the release said.

Officers responded to 10 incidents at the premises from May 28 to Sept. 30, the release said.

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