SOUTHOLD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — New York state has cracked down on a Long Island winery that neighbors say has been out of control for years.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday, residents of Cutchogue, Long Island were complaining that wild behavior at the winery was ruining their quality of life.
They said in addition to the traffic, drunken visitors have engaged in fights and lewd acts.
“We were looking forward to it. We took a long ride out here – an hour and a half or so – (and then they told us) that they are just closed temporarily,” one woman said after arriving at Vineyard 48 with two others. “She was on the phone; didn’t seem too friendly.”
On Thursday, the New York State Liquor Authority took emergency action – suspending the license of Vineyard 48. It may no longer sell alcohol, and none may be consumed on its premises.
“Right now, we have to dedicate two or three officers every weekend just to babysit that winery, and out of the 35 wineries we have on the North Fork in our township, it’s the only winery that operates that way,” said Southold police Chief Martin Flatley.
The suspension is the result of what the State Liquor Authority has deemed a disturbing pattern of wrongdoing – straining police resources and wreaking havoc on the community.
Marion and Frank Wildenauer are among the neighbors.
“We live out here, you know, and it’s just the quality of life on the weekends becomes horrendous,” Marion Wildenauer said.
“Weekend gatherings with bands and all kinds of traffic is horrendous, and the crowds — you can’t even go in and taste a bottle of wine anymore,” Frank Wildenauer added.
It was in July 2015 that a group of friends left popular Vineyard 48 in a limousine. Adjacent to the busy winery, the limo driver made a U-turn and was broadsided by a pickup truck, killing four of the young women.
No one has been charged criminally. But since that unforgettable tragedy, families have banded together pushing for safer roads and safer winery visits.
Instead, they complained to the State Liquor Authority that things only got worse.
Among the complaints to the authority were reports of:
• Two patrons engaging in sexual acts in view of their backyard bordering Vineyard 48;
• Four hundred disorderly, heavily intoxicated patrons pushing, shoving, and screaming obscenities.
• Bathroom lines 30 deep, and patrons wandering off premises to urinate and defecate on properties of neighboring residents.
Southold police report 10 serious incidents at Vineyard 48 just since May. They involved fights, alcohol overdoses, emergency treatment, and buses and limos still making dangerous U-turns.
The vineyard has declined to comment at this time. A woman inside directed CBS2’s crew to leave and directed questions to an attorney.
The attorney predicted a quick court reversal, and said evidence will prove the allegations are exaggerated and untrue. The attorney said Vineyard 48 has a huge security detail keeping patrons alive.