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?

Basically you need to take a big picture view of what your business plan is going to look like for your wine business. Are you going to make & sell your own wine either as a home winery, an alternating proprietor at an already established winery or build or open your own new winery? Or are you going to become a custom crush client (a wholesaler)? No matter which route you are going there will be licensing to set up at all 3 levels of government; local, state and federal.

Before even beginning to complete all the application materials there are several items you’ll need to have on hand. These include the FBN (fictitious business name) statements for your business, your EIN number, a business bank account and a business license. (Plus copies of all your entity filings if you are not filing as a sole proprietor)

Next comes the application process. This is where having some knowledgeable guidance is in your best interest. If you don’t know which forms to file or how to fill them out correctly the process quickly becomes very tedious and will take you many times longer than it should. This is why I get the calls I do! I’ll also make one side note here, if you are planning to build a new winery site the lengthiest and most involved part of the process is going to be at your local government level, and the permitting involved there. These processes generally take at a minimum years to complete. (Along with the highest fees)

So by now you may be realizing that starting a  wine business is more complicated than you would have guessed. That is why I also like to put together a chart which is designed to give my client’s an overall view of their compliance picture. This chart outlines each of the regulating government agencies, the license or permit they require, plus includes some further details of what the recordkeeping and reporting requirements are going to look like once they are up and running.

Knowing what to expect before getting into the business will save you a lot of time and a lot of confusion down the road. My advice, plan ahead.

If you’d like further information along the lines of what is covered above in your considerations of getting into the wine business you can contact me at: .   I’d love to help get you started off on the right foot.

Recent Posts