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Beer might be the drink of choice for most people, but wine doesn’t fall too far behind it. Of the 65% of the population who drink, about 30% of them enjoy a good wine to a certain degree.
That might be why opening a wine business is considered to be an excellent investment. The problem is getting a winery off the ground.
There’s a lot of competition to worry about. To make yourself stick out, you’d have to create a killer business plan. We can help you out with that.
Check out this guide to learn how to start a winery and keep it open for years to come.
1. Learn About Wines
You can’t start a winery with your business knowledge alone. If you don’t know the first thing about the beverage you’re pushing, your customers will be able to tell.
You’ve got to know how to assess the quality of the grapes that go into your bottles of wine. You also need to know where to get the best grapes and study the fermentation process until you understand it in its entirety.
For this purpose, you can take classes in wine preparation. There are also magazines you can read.
2. Pick Your Name and Entity
One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your winery is its name. It’s the thing that makes wine brands stand out from each other. That’s why you have to choose something unique.
Once you come up with a name, check with the secretary of state’s office in your location to make sure it hasn’t been snagged by another winery yet. If it hasn’t been, you’ll want to go online and secure it as fast as possible.
While you’re reserving your winery’s name, you should also go ahead and choose your business entity. You can register as a sole proprietorship, limited liability, or corporation. In the case of wineries, limited liability is almost always the best option.
3. Write Your Business Plan
Once you’ve decided on your name and entity, you can write up your business plan. It will act as a blueprint that you can use to construct your entire company from the ground up.
To begin, you’ll need to do a bit of research on your competition. Decide what sets your company apart from theirs and how you’re going to overcome them.
The next step is researching your target demographic. What does your average customer do for a living, and how much money do you feel they spend on wine every month?
You’ve got to find out how you plan to make money. You could offer wine tastings and tours, for example.
You’ll need to nail down the specifics of your product and decide on a place to set up shop.
Be as detailed as possible because financial institutions will take everything in your business plan into account when deciding how much funding they can give you.
4. Get the Legalities Out of the Way
When it comes to starting any business, there are a lot of hoops that you have to jump through. Since the wine industry is so regulated, the amount of paperwork you’ll have to do will almost seem overwhelming.
First, you’ve got to apply for a permit that states that you can legally run your operation. After that, you’ll have to register your business with the FDA and get your wine labels okayed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
If you’re going to be doing business in other states, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with their shipment laws.
5. Decide on a Budget and Secure Your Funding
Starting the best winery in your area can take a lot of money. You’ve got to invest in your equipment and buy acres of land to grow the grapes. It takes cash to maintain the vineyard after you buy it.
If you don’t want to grow your own plants, you can buy an existing franchise or purchase your grapes from another vineyard. These options will cost you a pretty penny as well, though.
You’ll purchase a tasting room, a place that’s dedicated to storage and fermentation, and your bottling line.
Since wineries can be sort of financially risky, it will be challenging to get a bank loan. If you can secure one, expect to pay a huge downpayment and high-interest rates.
You can also open a business line of credit. For smaller, purchases, you can use a company credit card.
6. Buy Your Equipment
You can’t run your winery without having the proper equipment. You’ll need to have a company truck that you can use to transport your grapes. Tanks and barrels are necessary for aging and storing the wine.
You’ll also need a place to refrigerate the product and having a bottle labeling machine is a must.
7. Market Your Company
To market your winery, consider offering a wine club that allows members to purchase wine in bulk every quarter. In exchange, they get free access to wine tastings and other special perks.
Consider cross-marketing with hotels and other businesses in your area. Offer classes that will allow amateur winemakers to learn the ropes.
If you host winetastings, potential customers will be more willing to buy. Create a social media page and post a few times a week. You can use it as a platform to promote the events held at your winery.
Start the Best Wine Business Around
Starting a wine business can cost you a lot, but it’s also profitable. To secure funding, you’ll have to write a good business plan and get all the necessary legal paperwork out of the way.
Once you get the money you need to purchase your vineyard, you’ll have to buy the right equipment.
We hope that you’re able to use the tips that you’ve read here today to get started on this lengthy process. For advice that will help you keep your winery open, visit the Business section of our blog.