Neighbours of the Perseus Winery on Lower Bench Road are gathering to oppose adding a lounge to the business.
About 20 neighbours came together on Monday evening to protest in front of the winery, waving signs at passing cars on the steeply sloping road.
Trevor Tovell, one of the organizers of the protest, said preserving their quality of life is the reason for protesting the Perseus application for a 44-person lounge.
“You can just imagine having 44 people outside, everyday throughout the summer in a very close, small residential neighbourhood,” said Tovell. “It’s like having a neighbour that has 44 guests every day of the summer.”
The winery is proposing to add Lounge endorsement licence to the existing exterior patio on the north side of their building, with hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The original request, which came before city council on April 18, requested an occupant load of 68 persons, but that has since been reduced.
“I think what people don’t realize is that the houses are actually quite close together here, it’s not a big acreage,” said Caley Tovell. “It’s a regular residential area. We don’t think it belongs.”
The opponents would like to see the application get voted down when it comes before council, the same as Perseus 2013 application, when city council refused to endorse the application to the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch.
“We are very pro business. We respect and appreciate what the tourism industry and wineries bring to this area, but there is a cost to everything and we think having a lounge is too big a cost for our residential area,” said Trevor.
Lindsey Richardson, manager of Perseus Winery, said although the licence is called a lounge licence, they are not planning a large operation.
“Lounge is a very big stretch of the word for what we are attempting to institute here,” said Richardson. “It only allows us to pour wine by the glass on our patio, it doesn’t mean we are a full service restaurant or anything like that.”
Richardson added that they are already serving pre-packaged charcuterie snacks, which they will continue.
“We’ve already served food for two seasons here, and we’ve already allowed people to sit without alcohol on the patio and consume our snacks. We aren’t a very busy winery. The maximum number of people we’ve had sit on the patio has never gone above 10,” said Richardson.
Richardson said opposition to their lounge isn’t complete.
“Some of our neighbours are our best customers and are the regulars, who like the idea of being able to walk up the hill and have a glass of wine here,” said Richardson. “We should be able to pour a glass of what we produce on our property here.”
The majority of the parcel of land is surrounding by other agricultural uses except for the section of the property were the winery building is located. That section is within an urban lot configuration, according to the City of Penticton report.
Richardson said the winery has done their best to be good neighbours, investing upwards of $20,000 in improvements like fencing along with plexiglass panels and cedars on the other side of the road to act as sound barriers.
“We have put in everything that has ever been asked of us by our neighbours, we’ve done it happily.”
The protestors say they will also be attending the May 23 city council meeting, where staff is expected to report the results of their public consultation.