1. Considerations When Starting a Winery
2. The Three Varieties of Grapes
3. Different Routes to Starting a Winery Business

As you research how to start a winery, there are several things to consider. You will need to choose the right location for your vineyard and decide which grapes you will grow. You must also account for startup costs and make sure you file the proper paperwork.

Considerations When Starting a Winery

First, it's important to understand that the climate where your vineyard is located will directly impact what type of wine you can produce. Generally, grapes will grow better in areas that are warm in the summertime and mild during the winter months. Frost can easily kill a crop of grapes. You should be sure that your grapes will be exposed to plentiful sunshine.

It can be a good idea to choose a location where there are existing vineyards, as you will be able to form professional connections and receive ample support. If you're not sure that you can understand the soil requirements for growing grapes, you may need to seek professional assistance.

After you've chosen your location, it's time to give some thought towards the type of grape that you will grow. There are three different grape species used to make wine, with the Vitis Vinifera being the most popular type. The other two types of wine grapes are the Vitis Labrusca, which is mostly used in North America, and the Vitis Rotundifolia, which are primarily used to make dessert wine due to their sweetness.

Starting a winery costs much more than many people realize. The amount of money you will need to invest depends on the size of your winery. For instance, if you're not planning to sell wine by the case, your costs may be much lower. On the other hand, if you want to run a larger wine business, you may end up spending seven figures.

Operating a winery is very time consuming, and you can expect to face several bureaucratic obstacles, such as having to fill out and submit mountains of forms. While there can be differences depending on where your winery is located, you will likely need to acquire permits to sell and distribute alcohol.

You will also need to do the following:

  • Comply with safety regulations.
  • Submit taxation forms.
  • Establish a system for tracking your wine sales.

Spend some time researching the forms and paperwork you will need for your winery. If you're not comfortable handling these documents yourself, you can get help from an experienced attorney.

You may not be able to make a substantial amount of money from wine production, so it's important to identify other sources of income.

The Three Varieties of Grapes

Vitis Vinifera is the most popular wine grape and is used to produce types of wine such as the following:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Riesling
  • Zinfandel

The Vitis Vinifera can be grown almost anywhere in North America, although this grape needs a short winter and a long summer to thrive. 

Vitis Labursca is another grape that can be successfully cultivated in North America and is usually found in the northeastern portion of the continent. The Concord grape is the most well-known type of Vitis Labrusca, but it is usually not used for wine because of its musky flavor.

The Muscadine grape, which is also known as the Vitis Rotundifolia, is the other type of grape used in wine production. Because Muscadine grapes do well in warm, wet climates, they are commonly grown in Florida. Wine made from Muscadines is very sweet, which is why they are so frequently used for dessert wines. Muscadine wine also has a higher antioxidant content than other wines.

Different Routes to Starting a Winery Business

The best option for starting a winery is establishing your own vineyard. Choosing this route provides more flexibility and allows you to select your dream location and the exact type of grape you will use for winemaking. Unfortunately, building a winery from the ground up is also very difficult. There will be a tremendous amount of work required to get your winery running, and it will be a good deal of time before you see a profit.

Before you take the steps to open your winery, you should get your licensing in order, including making sure you are permitted to sell alcohol. If you want to sell wine at your vineyard, such as after a wine tasting, you will need additional permits.

Once you've installed the equipment necessary to make your wine, you will need to have it regularly checked to make sure it is up to quality and safety standards.

If you need guidance to help you start a winery, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.