Category Archives: Tips & Tools

Interacting with the TTB part 2: Permit application filings
Posted on 2016-03-20 by Ann Reynolds

This post is number 2 following up on my blog from 3 weeks ago in which I shared my tips for successfully interacting with the TTB’s main office in Cincinnati if you have questions related to your winery’s  TTB permit or reports. That area however is just one leg of the overall successful management of any winery’s TTB compliance. The other leg is what I’ll share my tips for today. Specifically the topic I refer to is either an original application for a new winery or wine wholesaler business or an amendment type of filing if you’re already an existing TTB permit holder.

During the process of submitting an application to the TTB, either when you are starting a new wine business or if you already hold a TTB winery basic permit and need to update the ownership details, or your bonded premise area or are moving from one premise address to a new one (all examples that require a permit amendment filing)  there are specific steps in the preparation and follow up process that knowing ahead of time will make it go much smoother and more than likely faster.

Here are my tips sectioned out by the two areas of applications submitted to the TTB.  As in my earlier post the TTB office you are interacting with is their National Revenue Center (NRC) office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Applications for a new TTB permit using the Permits Online system:

  1. If you are responsible for filing a TTB application first make sure that you have power of attorney for your winery’s permit so that you will be able to interact with the TTB staff for this necessary follow up. (A TTB power of attorney form can be submitted as part of submitting a new permit application)
  2. Pay attention to the current approval time frames for your application type and make a mark out on your calendar for around 2 to 3 weeks before the end of that current approval cycle and call their offices (855-882-7665) and press 2. When you actually get through to a live person tell them you are calling in reference to your Permits Online application tracking # and the name of the business on the permit application. 
  3. They will then be able to give you the name and contact # for the TTB specialist who is handling your application. TTB email format by the way is:
  4. Reach out to them by phone and if you are successful in reaching them directly reference who you are, the Permits Online tracking number for your application and the business name. Let them know that you are checking in to confirm the approval status of your application and whether or not anything else is still required on your end to complete their review and approve it.
  5. If you have to leave a voicemail then also follow up by sending them an email w/the same request.
  6. If you don’t receive a response back in a week then reach out again.
  7. Once you have established contact with the specialist handling your application make sure on your end that you are responsive to any additional requests they have regarding your application. If an email is sent to you try to respond back the same day. 

Existing TTB permit holder amendment applications:

  1. The first step is specific to how your original TTB permit application was filed. Was it submitted via mail in hard copy form to the TTB offices or was it submitted (after early 2011) via their Permits Online system? Depending on which of these it was will then determine how you continue to submit all amendment application filings moving forward. So you’re either “old school” (hard copy, snail mail) or “new school” (permits online- everything sent electronically) .
  2. Once you’ve determined your answer to #1 the next step is to prepare the information or forms you’ll need to submit with the application. Here’s a handy reference list of required permit amendment filings “after original qualification” as the TTB calls it. This list is useful to both snail mail and online filers, however in the case of a winery that is filing using the Permits Online system some of the required forms on this list won’t apply, but rather you fill in the required information via the TTB’s online forms.
  3. If you are submitting via hard copy, snail mail make sure to create a duplicate set of the completed application forms to send in. I also recommend that when your applications are ready to send in that they are sent with some form of delivery confirmation so you know when they arrived safely at the TTB offices. 
  4. Follow up. Give it at least 4 weeks after the date you know your application was received before beginning making any contact w/the TTB offices. Here again you’d call their main contact # of 855-882-7665 and press # 2. Tell the person the details of your winery’s TTB BW #, business name, the date your application was received into their offices, and that you are calling to confirm it’s review status. If they can they will give you the name of the TTB specialist handling your file.
  5. Once you know the TTB specialist with your application you can follow you can follow steps 4 through 7 from above to make contact and follow up through your application’s approval.

My final tip across the board for TTB applications:

  1. Be persistent- but not a pest! And in the process of being persistent be professional. (consider yourself a diplomat for your winery)
  2. Be aware that there are many new staff members at the TTB offices, many of whom are brand new to the winery regulation world. So the more familiar you are with what forms, information and documentation are true requirements vs. what is not is valuable knowledge to have. 

Wineries, Who Is In Your Compliance Corner?
Posted on 2012-12-03 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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Congratulations, You’re A Winery! Now What??
Posted on 2012-11-16 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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My Top Time & Money Saving Winery Compliance Tips!
Posted on 2012-10-29 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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The Top 10 Useful Items From The TTB’s Website
Posted on 2012-10-16 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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Elise Baril: Common Misconceptions and Advice About Wine Compliance
Posted on 2012-07-26 by Ann Reynolds

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

Harvest is Coming…Is Your Compliance Prepared?
Posted on 2012-07-22 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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TTB Label Approval Search Advice From Eliot Ness
Posted on 2012-06-28 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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Like to Get In on the Wine Compliance Game?
Posted on 2012-05-23 by Ann Reynolds

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?

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Small Wineries, Are You Not Getting The Credit You Deserve?
Posted on 2012-04-27 by Ann Reynolds

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.

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