Couple hope to open winery in Rochester

Feb 10, 2022

ROCHESTER — A Rochester couple hopes to establish a winery, the first in town, at their property at 308 New Bedford Road.

Anthony Ruocco brought his winery proposal before the Zoning Board of Appeals Feb. 10. The winery would be owned by him and his wife, Mary-Patrice Ruocco.

The couple plan to establish a farm winery on the site that would prepare, ferment and bottle specialty dessert wines.

The first floor of the home would be converted to an area for wine tastings, he said. 

He plans to grow about five acres of vines, utilizing grapes that are able to withstand the cold.

Tastings would be available by appointment only, for what Ruocco described as a small fee. Small batches of the wine would be prepared for weddings, corporate functions and other events off site.

Appointments would be required for tastings, which he anticipated would be attended by about 10 to 15 people per group, about the size of a wedding party.

Customers would be served a total of about six ounces of wine, which he described as less than the amount in a glass of wine ordered at a restaurant. He said he expected two or three tastings per month, to take place in late afternoons or early evenings. 

“These are not going to be parties,’’ he said. “It’s not a wine bar.’’

Ruocco requested a special permit to establish a farm winery. Questions were raised by board members about whether he even needed a special permit, or whether the use was allowed outright as a farm use.

Ruocco told board members that town counsel advised him to seek a  permit, he said. 

Neighbors who abut the property, Randy and Nancy Arsenault of 20 Country Lane, raised concerns that the establishment could affect their privacy and property value.

“Does it plan to get bigger?’’ Ms. Arsenault asked. She questioned whether roads would be added or machinery brought in. The couple also questioned whether grape remnants would attract flies and create smells

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen,’’ she said. “This is our backyard.’’

No buildings would be added to the land, Ruocco responded.

Zoning Board chair David Arancio requested a site plan of the proposed venture. “This operation is unique,’’ he said.

The issue was continued until the board’s Feb. 24 meeting.