Quick question my winemaking compliance friends, When you researched for the answer to a compliance question were you ever frustrated with the first answer you were given? And by frustrated I mean the answer you were given either was not very clear or just didn’t sound like the right one you were after? My simple solution when this happens to you? Get a second opinion.
There are currently over 7,000 wineries in the US. I continually am in contact with folks at the beginning stage of starting a wine business, and many of those are as a “bonded winery”. Basically what that expression means is they are licensed as a winery, so a business that makes wine, grape to bottle. It’s a pretty exciting stage to become officially licensed, but then after that initial excitement wears off comes all the “what do I do now?” questions as far as compliance related to that new permit. Believe it or not everyone I interact with that is starting a winery is doing so because they’re excited about making and selling wine……….not because it means they’ll get to deal with compliance.
Winemakers, do you cringe at the thought of having to deal with your compliance? If you said yes (And you know all of you did) then I’ve got some good news for you. There are some simple ways to make keeping up with your compliance an easier task. Really, there are.
I’ve conveniently summarized a list of my Top 3 Tips just for you, which if followed consistently are guaranteed to spare you from a lot of unnecessary cringing.
There’s no shortage of questions around the topic of winery compliance. I hear them all the time from folks across the spectrum of the business, from those just getting started to well seasoned veterans who have worked years at many wineries. One of the most standard resources I point them towards for the answers to their questions is the TTB’s website. So with that in mind I thought I’d put together a Top 10 list of what I see as the most useful items that can be found there.
I recently met with my friend and fellow wine compliance colleague, Elise Baril. Elise is President of Baril Compliance Service, located in Santa Rosa, CA. We have recently been developing a referral relationship between our businesses and in that spirit I wanted to tap into and share some of her advice and input from over 25 years of wine compliance experience in this complicated area of the wine business.
I asked her two questions:
1. What is the biggest misconception that wineries have about their shipping compliance?
2. What key advice would she give to someone who is interested in a career in wine compliance?
Her responses provide helpful insight to both wineries and budding wine compliance specialists. Continue reading
The beginning cycle of winemaking is about to start in the northern hemisphere: the grape harvest. Otherwise just called “harvest” or “crush” by those directly impacted by it.
What does this part in the winemaking cycle mean from a compliance viewpoint? This is where all the records of a wine’s life begin which include many of the details often referred to later at that final chapter, the wine label and marketing materials.
The TTB’s website really does have a lot of good information. (If you know where to look) I myself can vouch for this firsthand as I’ve been viewing it as part of my profession since 1998. It has come a long way since then! Now they are going back to their roots by including a section titled, “Eliot Knows” which is basically a version of their FAQs page.
Eliot’s latest information for the curious wine regulation searcher is about one of the TTB’s sites, the Public COLA Registry.
In the last 2 years I continue to come in contact with a steady stream of people who are interested in either getting a job in the wine compliance area or would like to start their own winery compliance business. Good news! Good news you say? How can that be good news for me as a compliance business owner?
Did you know the majority of wineries in the US are below 5,000 cases in annual production? They are small in production numbers and also usually small in staff numbers too. This also means they experience the “many hats” syndrome, where each of their staff members is responsible for multiple duties to keep the business going. This can be an ongoing challenge for them so they can use all the breaks they can get. One hefty break available to them (in many cases) is the small producer’s tax credit on their excise taxes paid to the TTB. (federal regulating agency) This tax credit can save them up to 80% on their taxes.
The wine business has a romantic image to it. How much of this can be attributed to the processes of winemaking and grape growing and all the images they conjure up is debatable but regardless it continues to draw a steady crowd of newbies to it. The numbers of both wineries and wine wholesalers (custom crush clients) has continued to rise steadily in the US. I am regularly contacted through my website and through word of mouth by folks wanting to get started with their own winery or wine wholesaling business. They are often surprised when I sit down with them and show them all the licensing they will need. “Wow, I had no idea there was so much involved!” is a comment I often hear. So just what are you looking at to get in on the wine game?