Windermere denies SolVino’s request for on-site beer, wine consumption

Applicant Sun Wine Inc., also known as SolVino — Fine and Rare Wines, is a business planned for the Downtown Windermere Redevelopment Project.

This 2023 aerial from the Orange County Property Appraiser identifies the subject property and the other uses within 1,000 feet that require the approval of the conditional use for the proposed on-site sale and consumption of beer or wine.
This 2023 aerial from the Orange County Property Appraiser identifies the subject property and the other uses within 1,000 feet that require the approval of the conditional use for the proposed on-site sale and consumption of beer or wine.
Photo courtesy of Orange County Property Appraiser
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The Windermere Town Council at its meeting Tuesday, May 14, denied unanimously a conditional-use request for on-site consumption of beer or wine for a new business.

Applicant Sun Wine Inc., also known as SolVino — Fine and Rare Wines, is a business planned for the Downtown Windermere Redevelopment Project. SolVino was requesting the conditional-use approval because it is located fewer than 1,000 feet from Family Church, as well as three other locations with the same approval: Tim’s Wine Market, Windermere Brewing Co. and Paloma Coffee.

The town’s code provides the council may waive the separation requirement through the conditional use. 

However, the request must meet all seven criteria provided in the code, including being harmonious, compatible and appropriate with the existing character of the area; not having significant adverse impacts on the livability and usability of nearby land; and preserving the public’s health, safety and welfare.

Several of the Town Council members voiced the welfare condition as their reasoning for denial. 

Council Member Andy Williams recused himself from the vote, because he owns the building that houses Tim’s Wine Market, as well as other nearby property. 

“We have six retail stores downtown, and, of the six, five have liquor licenses, and this is the current makeup of our downtown area,” Council Member Tom Stroup said. “I look at public safety and welfare. If we have five of the six businesses downtown selling alcohol, I mean, hypothetically, that means 95% of the people leaving the stores downtown have had something to drink. That, to me, is not compatible with our residents and is a big issue to me.”


The SolVino business at 527 Main St. will be within the Windermere Downtown Property PUD.

Although the applicant was not present at the meeting, according to a letter, the business aims to “transcend the wine retailer industry by providing an educational, personalized purchase experience which focuses on quality over quantity.” 

The family-owned business, led by a husband and wife, plans to draw inspiration from European bottle shops and neighborhood cafes. The applicant hopes to include 30 flexible seating options with high-top and lounge tasting areas centered around a 20-foot display case.

The town’s code prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m, and the applicant is proposing to be closed by 10 p.m. each day.

The applicant was proposing outdoor seating only if approved by the town.  

“We have communicated already that that would not be allowed the way that the development agreement is structured,” Town Planner Brad Cornelius said. “There really isn’t room for additional parking on that property.”


At the April 16 Development Review Board meeting, the DRB was unable to reach a majority vote to provide a recommendation to the Town Council on the item. 

Public notices were mailed to property owners within 500 feet of the property. The town received four letters in support and eight in opposition. The town also received 21 emails, all in opposition of the item.

Residents Debra Neal and Sarah Lopez spoke during public comment against the request and asked the council not to approve the item in the best interests of the community.

Town Attorney Heather Ramos reminded the council the item is a quasi-judicial public hearing.

“The Town Council is going to apply the criteria in the town’s code … as opposed to making policy decisions,” she said. “The decisions you make tonight must be based on the evidence presented this evening.”

Kara Ann Groves, attorney representing the applicant, said the applicant plans to offer wines around the $100 price range and above, which differentiates it from Tim’s Wine Market. They also do not plan to offer any events or promotions. 

Even without the request, Groves said the business still would have the ability to provide samples on-site with the current approvals. 

“We are here to seek approval for wine-by-the-glass offerings; consumption on-premises,” she said. “I just want to drive two main points home. You have heard from many already on Tim’s Wine Market. My first point is very simple. Approval of this conditional-use permit is actually a vote for Tim’s Wine Market, and the best thing this council can do to minimize competition between the two venues. … Point two is that denial of this CUP, given the facts before you and the statements that we’ve established in our narrative … is equivalent to a market control and inconsistent with the standard of review to which this council is bound and the spirit of local government.”

Town Council Member Brandi Haines said the 1,000-foot rule exists for a reason, and Town Council Member Mandy David said the applicants do not live within town limits, and the local residents do not wish to have additional outside people brought into the community to enjoy the new business.

Mayor Jim O’Brien said he was still not understanding the business model and what would make the shop unique, while Town Council Member Tony Davit said he struggled with the item and saw both sides of the argument. 

“I’m certainly not interested in market control, but I do respect the opposition, and I do feel that even when some of the current conditional-use permits that we have … we have to be very careful, because I think we are currently stretching what some people will tolerate that live in and reside in our community,” O’Brien said. “I hear these issues regularly … I think there’s been limited outreach to the community, the owners have not reached out to me. I think that I do feel a genuine concern that we could change, in a negative way, the essential character of the downtown area.”


An update on the pending boathouse litigation also was discussed at the Town Council meeting. 

The town hosted a closed attorney-client session pertaining to the litigation in February.

Town Attorney Nick Dancaescu said the mediation reached an impasse, but he could not share what happened in the mediation because of Florida Statutes.

Stroup said he was hoping the issues of the litigation would have been resolved in mediation, but that has not been the case.

He said hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on both sides of the argument and he believes the trial will double those numbers.

“I don’t see that as being a win for anybody,” he said. “They’re just boathouses. The property itself is not that significant. They’re just historic landmarks that make Windermere what it is — regardless of if they’re owned by the town or the residents.”

Stroup suggested both parties involved in the boathouse lawsuit drop the lawsuit and neither party seeks legal cost restitution. He said the previous lease agreements would be terminated and the town of Windermere would sell the boathouses to the previous lessees. The cost of the boathouse sales would be determined by the Town Council, but the cost would not exceed the current cost of legal fees already incurred by the seven lessees. The boathouse upkeep and maintenance would fall under the same rules and regulations as all residential property in Windermere, and any further legal costs incurred in complete disagreement would be pursued independently by all parties involved.

He said his suggestion would be contingent on acceptance by all parties. 

Stroup agreed to speak with Dancaescu and Town Manager Robert Smith to discuss the possibility of the offer and see if there is any appetite for the suggestions by those involved.

Although there would be many details to work out in the complex case, if the offer were to move forward, it would be brought before the council for a vote. 



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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