Sevastopol Remains Thumbs Down on Winery

In a 3-2 vote, the Sevastopol Town Board on Nov. 27 refused to support a conditional use permit for Door 44 Winery to build a winery at County P and Highway 42 in the town.

Town Chair Dan Woelfel announced the board would not hear any public comment or testimony on the winery proposal because “we have covered 99 percent of all the information at prior meetings.”

Woelfel also pointed out that the Door County Resource Planning Committee had voted 2-2 on the conditional use permit at its Oct. 19 meeting, and a tie vote results in denial. Committee Chair Ken Fisher was one of the no votes, and he said he didn’t want to see any more farmland loss, despite the fact that the owners of the property, Andy and Karen Gundrum, are growing grapes for Steve Johnson of Parallel 44 and Door 44 Winery. Johnson wants to move his Door 44 Winery, which now is next to Grandma Tommy’s within the town’s boundaries on he northern edge of  Sturgeon Bay and build a new winery and tasting room on the Gundrum property.

As a result of Fisher’s comments about losing ag land, the owners hired a soil specialist to determine that it is not the best land for ag purposes, yet it works fine for growing grapes, and Johnson points out that is one of the oldest ag purposes on Earth. He also pointed out that the plan is to leave 95 percent of the property as greenspace.

However, Woelfel pointed out at the Sevastopol meeting that soil was never an issue in the town’s consideration of the proposal, but instead the town is focused on concerns brought up by neighbors about the size of the proposed winery (2-1/4 times the size of the Sevastopol Town Hall, Woelfel pointed out), traffic concerns and having a business and all that entails in a residential area.

Woelfel also mentioned that at a previous meeting the winery backers said they would be happy to meet with the town board and neighbors with a potential redesign of the building, but when the proposal went to the RPC without any changes, Woelfel pulled the plug on the meeting between the winery backers and neighbors.

Johnson, who earned a degree in public policy and administration before becoming a winemaker, feels that policy and protocol have not been followed at either the town or county levels.

“It is more of this philosophical debate of whether we should have a winery in Door County,” he said.

Town Supervisors Linda Wait and Chuck Tice voted to support the winery. Wait pointed out that this is not a new business coming into town, but a business already in town moving to a new location. She suggested the town gave up too easily on reaching compromises.

“I truly believe the neighbors, with some compromise, be it on the building, setbacks, fencing, whatever, I think this workable among the neighbors,” she said.

The next step for the winery backers is to appear before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which Johnson said will be an opportunity to have the proposal looked at without the prejudice of previous decisions.

“Prior decisions of the town and county are supposed to be irrelevant,” he said. “We’re hoping that logic will prevail here and the proper analysis will be applied.”

The Board of Adjustment meeting on the winery has not yet been set.

In other matters:

  • The Sevastopol Town Hall will be closed Dec. 3-9. Euclide Well Drilling of Sturgeon Bay will shut down the town’s tainted well and dig a new one at least 300 feet deep. “Hopefully that resolves our well issues,” said town chair Woelfel. “Our understanding is the school district next door took the same action and was successful in eliminating problems.”
  • The board heard from Baileys Harbor artist Katie Roth regarding a mural for the town hall. She brought in a watercolored plat-based map of the town. The supervisors asked about the possibility of somehow incorporating historic photographs into or around the mural. She said she would look into the photographs and come back to the board with a more refined concept in December.

You can view Sevastopol meetings at

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