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How to Start a Wine Business: Everything a Professional Wine-O Needs to Know

America’s wine business is worth about $220 billion. And with steadily increasing wine consumption, this trend is going to slow down anytime soon.

Have you always wanted your own winery but never knew where to start? Want to know what it takes to run a vineyard?

We’ve got you covered! Here’s a brief guide on how to start a wine business.

Research Permits and Regulations

Because wine-making is so thoroughly regulated, you’re going to want to read up on the licenses and permits you’ll need. First, you’ll need to get a permit to\ operate the winery. Then, you’ll need to register your business with the FDA.

Make sure you have the tax ID numbers and liability insurance required by your state. You’ll also need special alcohol-specific permits and taxes. And make sure everything you do gets the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s approval.

Sound complicated? It is. That’s why there are several companies out there that can manage this for you.

While you likely don’t want to spend the extra cash as a budding business, you’ll want to consider it. After all, failing to follow these rules and regulations can cause you to get shut down in a heartbeat. That means throwing out all the time and money you’ve put in so far.

Consider the Startup Costs

Starting up your winery is going to be expensive. Growing the grapes will take five years until your vineyard is ready to yield mature produce. And if you want to let the wine vintage, it’ll take you several more years. 

So you’re going to incur several startup costs and you’ll have years before you can get any returns. 

Additionally, land can be expensive. In California, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars per acre. And this is only expected to increase in the next 30 years.

One possible solution is to start a winery in a different state. Additionally, you can start out small and use your backyard until you start to turn some profit. 

Next, you have to install the vineyard, which will cost $35,000 to $45,000 per acre. And there’s an extra $15,000-$20,000 price tag to maintain those vines until they’re ready to bear fruit.

Combined with equipment purchases, experts estimate that you’ll spend about $1.5 million before you can expect to turn a profit. So one of the most important points in how to start a wine business is to get the necessary capital. Whether you use loans, savings, or investments is up to you.

Buy the Right Equipment

Besides the land and the actual vines, you’ll need to buy equipment. You’ll need barrels for fermentation and storage, as well as a bottling wine. 

A lot of the cost will be proportional to the size of your operation. For example, if you plan on producing vast amounts of wine, you’re going to need a huge room for refrigeration and a large building to act as a cellar. But if you plan on running a smaller operation, you can probably get away with a basement cellar and an under counter wine cooler

You’ll also need to think about if you want staff, and for larger businesses, that’s definitely a yes. Finally, consider if you’ll want a tasting room where visitors can come try out your wine. While this can bring in a lot of business and brand name recognition, it’s also going to be expensive to open and run.

Now You Know the Basics of How to Start a Wine Business!

Now you know all the basics of how to start a wine business! Whether you’re looking to change career paths or simply find a better use for retirement, we wish you luck! And we hope you’ll send a bottle our way.