2018-05-24 / Front Page

Whiskey may come to co-op

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


THE FORMER Cherry Growers Inc., fruit processing facility on Center Highway in Elmwood Township has been acquired by the Traverse City Whiskey Company which hopes to open a production facility and spirits tasting room there. THE FORMER Cherry Growers Inc., fruit processing facility on Center Highway in Elmwood Township has been acquired by the Traverse City Whiskey Company which hopes to open a production facility and spirits tasting room there. New plans are in place for a former fruit processing plant on Center Highway in Elmwood Township.

Traverse City Whiskey Company has acquired the former Cherry Growers Inc. facility and hopes to operate a distillery and tasting room there.

Cherry Growers, a co-operative whose members included several cherry farmers in Leelanau County, declared bankruptcy last year.

Its main facility in Grand Traverse County was put up for auction last month along with its facility in Leelanau County.

The whiskey company operates a production facility and bar on 14th Street in Traverse City as well as a production facility in southern Solon Township on Robinson Road.

Elmwood Township zoning administrator Sara Kopriva said the whiskey company plans to move its production facility to the former Cherry Growers building in Elmwood Township and open a tasting room there as well. The property is zoned for agricultural use.

Addition of a “spirits tasting room” to a facility in Elmwood Township’s agriculture district will require a zoning ordinance amendment, Kopriva said. Neighboring properties include a winery with a tasting room and a cherry-brining facility operated by local growers.

A letter Kopriva received from Traverse City Whiskey Company owner Chris Fredrickson states: “Beyond agricultural processing (distilling, storage and spirits processing), which the property is currently zoned for, we are requesting the zoning ordinance be amended to allow a spirits tasting room at this location.”

Fredrickson’s letter continued: “The tasting room would be an accessory aspect of operation and would allow us to offer tastings and sell products produced onsite.”

Fredrickson told an Enterprise reporter this week that he’s “highly encouraged” by initial conversations so far with Elmwood Township regarding his project.

“We believe the new facility, set on 34 acres of land in the countryside, will help us to significantly increase end-to-end production of our award-winning portfolio of premium whiskies and bourbon, and to create new jobs for the surrounding community,” Fredrickson wrote in an email message.

“We plan to bring the same passion and dedication to the new location that won over the local residents near our Stillhouse in Traverse City,” he added.

Kopriva said Fredrickson’s application for a zoning ordinance amendment to allow a spirits tasting room was introduced to the Elmwood Township Planning Commission for preliminary consideration at its regular monthly meeting last week.

She said planners directed her to research the issue and bring examples of draft zoning ordinance language back to next month’s meeting.

Traverse City Whiskey Company, which was formed in 2013, established a distillery and production facility in Solon after the Solon Township Board endorsed the company’s “small distillers” and “manufacturer of spirits” liquor license applications in 2015.

The company’s line of products include a whiskey infused with local cherries and natural flavors. The company also sells jars of its own “premium cocktail cherries.”

Return to top