Marterella fights on despite bankruptcy
Marterella Winery owner Kate Marterella has filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy after spending more than $500,000 in legal fees to keep running her business. Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Since she opened her winery in 2006, Kate Marterella has traded legal blows with the Bellevue Landowners Council.
The fight left the owner of Marterella Winery psychologically battered and practically broke.
Now, more than a year after winning her case before the Virginia Supreme Court over whether she has the right to have her business in a Warrenton-area neighborhood, she's filed for Chapter 12 Bankruptcy.
With foreclosure looming, Marterella had to do something before she lost the beloved tract of land she and her late husband picked out nearly a decade ago.
"I'm a farmer," said Marterella, from her outdoor patio at the winery last Friday. "I may have a dress on now, but I'm a farmer."
After filing for bankruptcy to reorganize her business, Marterella also filed a lawsuit in June seeking damages against Bellevue (the HOA) and several HOA board members and former board members.
Instead of more litigation, Marterella initially hoped to focus on expanding her wine club list and keep making money with her tastings.
But a series of strange incidents led Marterella to more legal action. The lawsuit contends that members of the HOA were behind both an IRS audit in 2011 and recent complaints to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and the Fauquier County Zoning Office.
Those complaints led to two separate investigations of her winery, said Marterella.
"I'm a very positive person, a cup half-full type of person most of the time," said the 51-year-old Marterella. "But this has been extremely unsettling."
On June 25, the HOA petitioned the court to throw out the lawsuit with prejudice under what's called a demurrer hearing.
Since then, Fauquier County Circuit Court judge Jeffrey Parker, who ruled in favor of the HOA a few years ago, recused himself on July 31.
On Aug. 5, Marterella's legal team filed an opposition to the demurrer. The demurrer hearing has not been heard yet.
Fauquier Times left messages for HOA president Diane Zegel and vice-president John Buursink on Monday but didn't hear back from them before deadline. Both were named in the lawsuit.
For the complete story, pick up a copy of today's Fauquier Times.
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