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California winery shut down after operating without alcohol license

Ernest Hemmingway Winery & Vineyards in Paso Robles has been forced to close after state officials discovered the winery has never had a valid license to sell alcohol.

The California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) has closed down Ernest Hemmingway Vineyards in Paso Robles, California, after receiving a complaint about the business in January.

According to a report by Californian newspaper The Tribunal, three ABC agents visited the winery in plain clothes and were offered a wine tasting, before noticing an expired liquor license on the wall that went out of date before owner Daryn Pastuf bought the business.

Further investigation confirmed that Pastuf had been selling alcohol on-site without a liquor license since he took over the business in 2019.

Pastuf told investigators he thought the license from the previous owner “just rolls over”, and that he had bought the vineyard licensed He further claimed that the vineyard has not been open since the COVID-19 pandemic, which social media posts from the business suggest is untrue.

He now faces a fine of up to US$1,000, six months imprisonment, or both.

It may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for the struggling company, which is already wading through a lawsuit concerning several bounced payments, according to The Tribune.

The ABC has confirmed that it is also investigating Pastuf’s other business, Hemmingway’s Steakhouse, though records suggest that all is above board there in terms of alcohol license.

Pastuf has four previously suspended wine businesses in Orange County, California. The companies were axed for failing to meet tax requirements and file updated information.

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