Smithfield responds to winery lawsuit

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Town maintains lease not renewed

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor 

The Town of Smithfield maintains that Smithfield Winery’s lease wasn’t renewed and that the court should dismiss all claims to the contrary, according to a response to the Winery’s $10 million lawsuit filed Friday in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court. 

The town’s response hinges on a paragraph in the lease that states that while there is a right to renew the lease, the terms of any renewal are subject to renegotiation and the existing terms do not carry over unless expressly provided. 

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The town contends that those conditions were not met, according to court documents.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

And because the lease was not renewed, the use of the pole barn was also forfeited, according to the town’s response. 

Smithfield Winery asserted in its suit that it sent in its renewal notice prior to the expiration date, along with a check for $25 for the next five years and that while the town accepted the payment and a $500 donation made to Windsor Castle Park Foundation, Smithfield Winery was told it did not renew the lease, according to its complaint. 

The winery also stated that it had complied with all conditions of the lease, according to its petition. 

The winery was using the pole barn to store equipment and was asked this past spring to move it to make way for the pending Smithfield Wine and Brew Fest. Shortly after that, the town began making improvements to the barn and the winery had to make other arrangements, according to court documents.  

The town said the request to move equipment came after the lease expired, according to court documents. 

The town also asked the court to deny the winery’s request to be declared a holdover tenant, arguing that the winery is instead occupying the property without the town’s consent, according to the town’s response.  

The $10 million stems from the losses that the winery says it will suffer if it loses an anticipated 35 years of profits, according to court documents. 

The winery is asking the court to grant it a year-to-year tenancy and plans to present its case before a jury in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court. 

A court date has not yet been set.  {/mprestriction}