Winery Project Moves Forward After Lawsuit Dropped
The people who want to build a winery in Knox County were prepared to go to court in a battle over the proposed location of their business. Instead they reached agreement with Knox County on a different site.
The original location for Hidden Hills Winery was to be on Fleisher Rd. But the owners were denied conditional use permits. The site is zoned for agriculture so permits were needed for construction of the winery and a banquet hall, and for the serving of alcohol.
County Board Chairman Brian Friedrich said the permits were denied because residents in the area raised concerns about traffic and the banquet hall.
The business owners filed suit, but before the matter could go to court they reached an agreement with the county to locate the winery elsewhere. It will be built southeast of the proposed Love's Travel Stop near Knoxville on an 8.8-acre site they will buy from the county for $108,000.
"When the county came to us with this offer, it just worked out in the essence that it still fit the needs that we needed for our winery. And at the same time, it decreased the negativity surrounding the opening of the winery. We wanted it to be something positive for the community, that we’re investing in it. And not that we’re trying to build something in someone’s backyard that they didn’t want," said Holly Weidenhamer, one of the co-owners of Hidden Hills Winery.
Weidenhamer said the business will produce around 5,000 gallons of wine a year and employ five people full-time. The winery will have production rooms and a gift shop. She said she expected it to open next spring.
Ken Springer, President of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development, said the winery will bring a new type of tourist to the county.
"We're very excited about the new visitors. Agritourism is definitely a growing industry in this country. It gives our community something new that we can market," Springer said.
Springer praised the winery's owners and the county for coming together to work out a deal.