A new era of business is beginning in Smyrna, which has just changed its rules to allow wineries to operate in certain zoning districts.
The Smyrna City Council’s move to include definitions and provisions for wineries in its list of permitted activities was prompted by a business owner wanting to relocate his Marietta meadery to Smyrna.
Mead is wine made from honey.
Robin Kosoris, founder of Viking Alchemist Meadery, spoke to council members at their regular meeting Monday about his plan to move his business from its current location on Fairgate Road in Marietta to a larger property just over six miles away, within a small industrial lot on Jonquil Drive in Smyrna.
“It’s a great location for what we do, with a huge parking lot,” Kosoris said. “We’ve way overgrown our production space in Marietta.”
Kosoris explained he approached city staff about getting a license for his meadery, and found no such licenses existed in Smyrna.
“Wineries weren’t previously defined within the city and the city’s zoning ordinance is silent on it,” Smyrna’s assistant city administrator Scott Andrews said at the meeting.
Russell Martin, Smyrna’s community development director, said wineries will now be permitted within the four zoning districts of general commercial, light industrial, central business district and mixed use.
“A year ago we made the recommendations to add breweries and distilleries in those districts as well,” Martin said.
He explained the changes to the city’s code of ordinances mean wineries are now included in the permitted, licensed operations that sell and serve alcohol, subject to a range of conditions.
“A lot of these requirements track the brewery and distillery amendments we made a year ago,” Martin said. “Basically wherever we added brewery we have also added winery.”
A Smyrna winery license will cost $1,700, as will a brewery license, he said, adding that is a comparable rate to fees charged in other Cobb cities.
Martin said Kosoris is very close to getting a permit from the city to upgrade the building on his Jonquil Drive site, and will also formally apply for a winery license next week.
Kosoris said he hoped to have the license by the end of the year and to move the production aspect of his company to Jonquil Drive soon after.
He then plans to upgrade the front of his new building, making it into a mead and cider tasting room.
“I want to move from where we’re at in January,” he said. “I would like to soft open in February and have our fourth anniversary here in March.”
Kosoris said his Marietta location is 1,500 square feet, which he thought would be enough, but the “small” business is booming with about 60% year-on-year growth.
“We’re running to keep up, which is why we’ve been desperately looking for a new home for over a year,” he said.
The company’s building in Smyrna is 14,000 square feet, Kosoris said.
He’s been renting the Marietta location since January 2015 and opened to customers in March 2016, making mead and cider on site from Georgia ingredients.
“Really for good business reasons, as well as being Georgia-centric, we try to stay as close to home as possible,” Kosoris said.
He received support from council members, who thanked him for choosing to relocate his meadery to Smyrna.
“I’m excited about y’all starting business in the city,” Mayor Max Bacon told Kosoris. “We want this to be a smooth transition from the beginning to the end.”