Honora Winery project a-brewing

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WILMINGTON — Honora Winery hopes to begin building its long-awaited brewpub in existing barns on Route 9 East soon.

Janice Stewart, winemaker at Honora since 2009, said the project had been held up by questions around wastewater during the state's Act 250 process.

"It took us a lot longer than we expected," Stewart told the Wilmington Development Review Board.

The DRB was asked for an extension of a town permit last Monday after local approval expired in February 2016. The state permit was approved Nov. 15.

The project has been kicking around for a while. Honora received a wastewater permit from the state in 2005 for a small system on site.

"Only 400 gallons per day was the flow," Zoning Administrator Craig Ohlson told the Reformer. "And that was for a one-bedroom apartment, two retail stores and a winery with a maximum of four employees. But that changed because now their intention is a brewpub. And to do a brewpub, their usage is greater."

Another state wastewater permit was secured in September. Honora also received a wastewater permit through the town to connect to the municipal sewer system.

"But that's still in limbo because I'm not exactly sure where they're going to run it from," Ohlson said, adding that a new sewer line will need to be connected. An existing line "ends at the western most entrance to the White House Inn and so they have to run it from there over the hill to the barn. The question is money to run it over the hill."

The property has a well, but a holding tank for a required sprinkler system will also be needed. The tank is necessary "just to have guaranteed water" for the sprinklers, Ohlson said.

"So they have quite a bit of work to do," he added.

One barn is expected to include a brewpub, a 16-seat tasting room for beer and wine with "associated retail sales," and a patio. Another barn will have a brewery and a second retail space. A third barn will have a one-bedroom apartment, a brewpub, and a restaurant with a kitchen and seating for up to 36 people.

The goal is to open part of the business in the fall.

"But I think that's optimistic," Stewart told the DRB. "Two years, I think that we'll be good."

The group's J'ville Brewery in Jacksonville will be moved to the Wilmington site, which DRB member Peter Wallace said would provide "better exposure."

"I agree," said Stewart.

She told the DRB that she started as an intern and became a winemaker through training at Honora.

"Then we started a brewery," she said. "And that's just because I like beer, not wine."

The DRB has 45 days from the close of a hearing to issue a decision.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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