By: Kimberly Houghton, Union Leader
LaBelle Winery is proceeding with its proposal to construct a new function space, distillery and tasting room behind its existing Amherst facility.
“This is the proposal that we are moving forward with,” Ken Clinton of Meridian Land Services told the planning board this week.
The new distillery, if approved by town planners, will be constructed on property located close to the current winery — not on property across the street as originally planned since litigation has stalled that initial concept.
“It is fairly close to the current building,” Clinton said of the new site during a discussion of the project.
He stressed the importance of being able to speak with all of the abutters before a formal site plan application is submitted to the planning board, which he hopes will take place in July.
A design review will likely occur in June, according to Clinton.
Recently, the planning board approved a lot line adjustment converting three parcels into two parcels on property along Camp Road behind the winery — not the original site eyed for the expansion on Route 101.
LaBelle Winery has been exploring the possibility of utilizing property owned by Friends of Young Judeau, Inc., on Camp Road to move forward with some of its expansion project.
Clinton explained this week that the main gravel parking lot currently used at the winery will be reconfigured to construct an access lane. The existing overflow gravel parking lot will be enlarged to the south and paved, he said, acknowledging that there will be more traffic once the distillery is in operation.
“This is what we are focusing on and this is the plan,” Clinton said of the distillery.
In 2012, LaBelle Winery opened its $4 million, 20,000 square feet winery and event center along Route 101 in Amherst near the Bedford town line.
There are more than 2,000 vines growing in the vineyard, although the winery continues to bring in fruit from other farms throughout New England and the Finger Lakes region of New York to assist with its winemaking process.
The local winery currently produces more than 30 different wines; last year it launched two new varieties made on site with grapes grown in Amherst.
Although LaBelle Winery previously acquired a separate 48-acre parcel across the road from the winery at 340 Route 101, that project was delayed when Amherst resident Richard Fredette filed an appeal of a zoning decision.www.unionleader.com/business-LaBelle-Winery-movesf-forward-with-plans-for-distillery
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