Northport vineyard opens after community opposition delayed it for years
The wine is flowing at Del Vino Vineyard in Northport, after opposition from town officials and residents delayed its opening for years.
Owner Frederick Giachetti poured servings of the vineyard's offerings on a recent afternoon and tended to patrons gathered for a holiday party. The winery opened officially Nov. 1.
"We've had just an overwhelming response from the neighbors and the community that everybody's very, very happy," he said.
Giachetti had faced opposition after he and his wife Lisa announced plans to build a vineyard on the 10-acre parcel in 2015. They envisioned a small-scale vineyard where they would make blends from pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc and Gewürztraminer grapes, and the property's 90-year-old farmhouse would serve as the tasting room.
Northport-East Northport school district officials worried about the winery's proximity to Norwood Avenue Elementary School, about 350 feet away from the vineyard. Residents complained about potential traffic problems on the winding road and the possibility of drunken drivers.
Former Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone raised concerns about the plans not requiring town environmental review scrutiny after the Suffolk County Legislature included the parcel in an agricultural zone. The town planning department ultimately asked Giachetti to make about three dozen changes to the plan to meet code.
As a result of the concerns, Giachetti said his approach to the vineyard's opening has been cautious. Although the holiday season, especially New Year's Eve, would typically provide lucrative business opportunities for a winery, Del Vino will be closed that day as well as Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Giachetti also instituted shorter business hours.
"We're allowed to close at 11 p.m. but, you know, we've been closing at 10 in the evening," he said. "We didn't want to have any problems with the neighbors." He said the hours may be longer in the summer.
He said he is also addressing parking issues along the two-lane Norwood Avenue.
"We also provide valet services so that people are not parking in the streets," he said.
The Northport-East Northport School District declined to comment about Del Vino's opening, according to a statement from the district's public relations firm Syntax.
Huntington town officials said they have received a few complaints about parking issues since the winery opened, but it seems to be in compliance with town code.
"Soon after opening their doors, there were a few occasions where community events resulted in complaints regarding occupancy and parking at or near the premises but we have not received any other complaints for the past few weeks and the applicant has fulfilled all requirements to date, in terms of physical site improvements, according to the Planning Department," Huntington spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said in a statement.
Giachetti said he is grateful for the reception he has received from across Long Island since the winery opened.
"We're just so thankful to the community and the support that we received not only from Northport and Huntington, but the greater Long Island community," he said. "We've had people come from as far as Montauk and Lynbrook and Rockville Centre come and support us."