What to Know
The Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn has been busted for running an illegal moonshine operation
Authorities discovered the winery was illegally making and distributing distilled spirits
The operation was one of the first city officials have encountered in more than two decades
A Brooklyn winery has been busted for running an illegal moonshine operation that created a “serious fire and explosive hazard," officials said.
Authorities inspecting the Red Hook Winery, at 204 Van Dyke St. in Brooklyn, on May 9 discovered the winery was illegally making and distributing distilled spirits, the New York State Liquor Authority said.
The operation was one of the first city officials have encountered in more than two decades, the SLA said.
“The discovery of an illegal moonshine operation in the heart of Brooklyn is nothing short of shocking, given how easy and inexpensive it is to obtain a distiller’s license in New York State," Christopher Riano, the counsel to the SLA, said in a statement.
“This licensed manufacturer has not only demonstrated his utter insouciance for state and federal laws, but has created a dangerous situation by operating a primitive, makeshift bootleg operation in one of the most densely populated areas of our state,” he added.
The team conducting the inspection last week found four unlicensed stills and more than forty cases of “illegally manufactured spirits” in the back of the winery, the SLA said.
The stills were illegally hooked up to the winery’s natural gas lines, and a “makeshift electrical box” with exposed wires was set up above the gas burners, “creating a serious fire and explosive hazard,” according to the SLA.
The winery’s owner, Mark Synder, cooperated during the inspection and was asked to dismantle the stills before the gas lines were shut off, the SLA said.
In a statement, Snyder's counsel said the winery had been collaborating with the Department of Agriculture on a project that involved producing grappa, a type of brandy.
The winery applied for the federal licenses it needed, but there had recently "been discussion between us and the agencies that issue the licenses," it said in the statement.
"We are in the process of working with the regulatory agencies involved to clarify the regulatory requirements going forward and [make] sure that the correct licenses and permits are in place," his counsel said.
"Regarding the grappa production still, it was disconnected and non-operative when the SLA visited the premises so we are unclear why the claims about the still being active were made," he added, calling them "inaccuate."