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Downtown Spencer Wine Room Passes Legal Hurdle


Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU News

An orange alcoholic beverage permit hangs in the window of the Tivoli Theater in downtown Spencer. The historic Tivoli is being renovated, and a local winery wants to lease part of the building for a separate tasting room.

An Owen County Winery is one step closer to opening a tasting room in downtown Spencer. But not everyone in town is a fan of the business that would occupy part of the historic Tivoli Theater building.

The four members of Owen County’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend approval of the Owen Valley Winery’s downtown tasting room.

The winery’s owner, Anthony Leaderbrand, says the new location will be a boon for not only his winery, but other local businesses too.

“There are a lot of products in the county that don’t have a place to put a storefront in, so this gives them a storefront to put their products in, as well as my wine. We can across the board, have a place for people to but products from Owen County itself,” he says.

Leaderbrand says he wants to change the way people look at downtown Spencer, in hopes of making it a tourist destination.

But the plan to put a wine tasting room next to the theater does not sit well with everyone. Owen County resident Nina Morris says the theater will be a family-friendly place and a business that serves alcohol should not open so close to it.

“I’m not against them having a place on the square, I’m not against their wine tasting farm vineyards, I just didn’t like it to be part of the Tivoli,” she says.

The state still has to give final approval to the winery’s permit.

If approved, Leaderbrand would be able to sell wine like he can at his rural farm winery, including offering tastings, wine by the glass, and seven-day-a-week carryout sales.

The theater is expected to open this April.

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