A downtown winery and tasting bar’s license has been suspended.

Due to a number of winery license violations, Corx Winery will be closed until further notice. A sign posted on the business’s front door by the Montana Department of Revenue says its license has been suspended until Nov. 2.

Owner Wesley Stewart is in the process of selling the business.

“The only way I can see Corx staying alive is by passing it on to someone else,” he said.

Following inspections by a state Department of Justice investigator, the Department of Revenue determined that no wine bottling or manufacturing was happening on the property, a requirement for winery licenses. Stewart told the investigator that he stored the bulk wine in a warehouse in Belgrade, according to Department of Revenue documents. He only manufactured a few times a year, he said.

Stewart said he used to blend and bottle wine at Corx downtown, but as the business grew, he started doing it at the warehouse in Belgrade. He didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to do that, he said. The Department of Revenue also said he started serving wine at an outdoor patio without being cleared by the state.

The Department of Revenue also accused Stewart of transferring ownership of the property without notifying the department, a law he said he also wasn’t aware of. No notice was given to the state that someone else would be managing the winery license either, according to the Department of Revenue.

In the notice, the department said Corx’s outdoor signage, which read “Corx Wine Tasting Bar,” didn’t make it clear that the business was a winery where wine was manufactured and bottled. Considering Stewart paid $400 for his winery license and wasn’t following laws for license holders, Gene Walborn, director of the department, said in state documents that it was unfair to wine license holders who paid much more to operate.

After the Department of Revenue recommended revoking Corx’s license, Stewart appealed the recommendation and a hearing was held before the state made a final decision.

At the hearing, Stewart argued that the state recommended he add the warehouse to his license, and he said he was never notified his outdoor patio was rejected. He told the state he would manufacture on-site and do what it takes to comply with the law.

He said he never had any previous violations and he communicated with Department of Revenue specialists to prevent violations. He pointed out that the mistakes he made were in paperwork and didn’t pose a danger to the public.

The state argued that it wasn’t enough to correct Stewart’s mistakes. The department also said the space set aside for manufacturing was only 20 inches wide, which wouldn’t allow enough room for totes and barrels. In an interview with the Chronicle, Stewart said he used to have more room. After adding more equipment and furniture, he said, he could still move things around to make room for the manufacturing equipment.

In its initial notice of proposed action, the Department of Revenue recommended revoking Stewart’s winery license altogether. Walborn ultimately decided to suspend Corx’s license for 180 days to give Stewart enough time to find a good location for manufacturing as a winery.

Stewart said the plan is for new owners to keep Corx downtown and manufacture there, and he said they have figured out a way to operate within state law. He didn’t provide any details, but Stewart said he has plans for his own future businesses.

“I just want to thank Bozeman for all the support and all the love,” he said. “We really appreciate it — it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.