Company to negotiate with city for former fire hall


IMLAY CITY — After a very successful beginning in Memphis, owners of Sage Creek Winery have decided to expand their business plan.

Company owners met with the Imlay City Commission Tuesday, May 2 to begin nailing down details for the business to locate in Imlay City.

The proposed location is the city’s old fire hall and eventually, it is hoped to purchase two other buildings located in close proximity of the hall.

“We are excited to bring our business to Imlay City,” said Michael Dausey who is one of three owners of the business. “We want to move our production operation from Memphis to Imlay City. There’s just so much more room here.”

Dausey is partners with his brother Jeff, and Vince Hutchins. All three men are military veterans.

The owners said Memphis will still continue to operate as they are, with the Imlay City location being just one more step in their business plan.

Speaking to the Commission with a contingent of supporters seated in the back of the meeting room, Dausey told the group the new business is not a bar or a restaraunt, just an opportunity for customers to come and have an experience with wine tasting.

Sage Creek anticipates producing more than 45,000 gallons of wine with raw product imported from various international locations.

The Memphis location, which opened for business in 2017, is housed in a building that is over 100 years old.

The Memphis location is a three-time winner of the “Best Winery in Metro Detroit” award, taking home top honors in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

Dausey told the board and audience the old Imlay City fire hall fits their footprint of restoring older buildings and keeping the structure’s history.

Dausey told the Commission the new Imlay City location would be “Memphis on steroids.”

According to the owners, it will take at least three months to move the production to Imlay City once negotiations are completed for the first building.

They estimated it would take about one year to compelte rennovations and open to the public.

In the meantime, according to Imlay City Police Chief Brett Selby, Sage Creek Winery does have licenses in place that will allow them to participate in special events, including the Eastern Michigan State Fair and Woods-N-Waters News Outdoor Weekend.

The owners anticipate making an investment of around $750,000 just for the first, primary building and will have around 7,200 square feet to work with.

The business plan calls for wine tasting rooms as well as an outdoor seating venue.

Area food trucks are expected to be a part of the business venture as well.

Their Memphis location is approximately 2,800 square feet.

The new business received support and high praise from several people including Chief Selby and Downtown Development Authority Director Christine Malzahn.

The Commission authorized city officials to continue with the negotiations of purchasing the property.

City Manager Craig Horton said he hopes to be able to present a proposed purchase contract for the old fire hall for the Commission to consider at their May 16th meeting.