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Starting Your Own Winery

Are you considering opening a winery? If so, you will be operating a business in a highly regulated industry. Here is an overview of some critical issues to start the process.

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Introducing the TTB

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) oversees federal compliance for the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages. What does this mean for you?

  • You must complete a licensing application process before you begin your winery.
  • You will have regular reporting requirements with TTB while your business is operating, which will have a bond requirement.
  • You will need to obtain label and formula approval.
  • You may want to protect your brand through trademarking.

How to Get Licensed

The process starts with determining what you want to produce. The application to TTB for your licensed operations will include submission of information relating to:

  • personal background checks
  • financial resources
  • business structure
  • production facilities and tasting area

The review process also includes a variety of other issues relating to how the public will interact with your winery. In addition to applying to the Federal government, it will be necessary to acquire a license from your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control authority. Additionally, it will be necessary to get licensed in each state in which you want to sell your wine. It is important to note that changes in the organizational structure of your business during the review of your application could potentially delay the issuance of your license.

Preparing to Sell Your Wine

All varietals require label approval. If your label is approved, TTB will issue a Certificate of Label Approval, known as a COLA. Some products require formula approval prior to issuance of a COLA. You should make a determination about whether or not a formula is necessary as your label process could be delayed without making this determination. TTB’s primary interest in reviewing labels is to determine whether a proposed label identifies the product in an accurate and non-misleading way.

Excise Taxes

The production of alcohol results in the assessment of an excise tax. An excise tax is a tax on the manufacture, sale, or use of goods or the transfer of property—in this case, alcohol. Federal excise taxes are paid to the National Revenue Center, a division of TTB. Various state taxing authorities collect state excise taxes.

Many new winemakers prefer professional assistance with the organizational and licensure process. If you would like assistance with any of these issues, please call us at (314) 768-0220 or email [email protected].

Alcohol Beverage Industry Experts - Your One Stop Shop, if we can't do it, we know an Expert who can.

We're Here to Help

Dear friends in the alcoholic beverage industry,

As we as an industry, nation and planet collectively try to navigate this unprecedented period the coronavirus has brought us, We’d like you to know that we at Craft Beverage Consultants (the other CBC!) are here to answer any question you may have (or not know you have) about not just surviving this time but positioning yourself to thrive as soon as social distancing measures allow your business to function at full capacity again.

If you schedule a free 60-minute phone or video conferencing consultation with me or any of my 11 highly specialized colleagues, we’ll help you figure out any of your immediate and/or longterm business needs, or “everything but the staffing,” as we like to say. We’re not high-pressure sales kind of people, especially these days, so you don’t have to worry about fending off annoying pitches. Make an appointment on our website or Facebook page, or just call us the old-fashioned way at 314-768-0220.

Our experts have a combined 150 years in the alcoholic beverage industry, with deep knowledge in everything from sales and distribution, production, and regulatory compliance to marketing, package design, event planning, IT, (social) media, hospitality, and even values-based executive coaching. 

For example, we can coach you through this season when chain accounts have canceled their spring, in some cases, fall resets and distributors have drastically cut orders. Our director of business strategy and compliance can save you money – now – on excise taxes, caution you to avoid naming your beers in ways that risk alienating your buyers (Wuhan Wheat? Coronavirus Cream Ale? Groan. No.), and secure TTB approval for the tastefully named beers you do make. Our creative director and web team can get your e-commerce site up and running and launch a social media campaign that keeps you top of mind for current and future customers. Our director of storytelling can put you in front of the press so you can tell your story to your community. 

Once you’re ready, we can look forward together. Now is the time to talk about post-virus. We all suspect the legal landscape to look different. But how? And how do you prepare yourself in a way that positions you to charge out of the gate ready to maximize the potential and profit of whatever the “new normal” turns out to be? Please get in touch so we can talk about it. 

CBC’s roster includes local and regional clients like Epic Brewing, Logboat Brewing, Piney River Brewing, SudWerk Brewing, Waves Cider and Common Cider Company, just to name a few.  The agency was founded in 2004 by Jacob and Beth Halls, formerly known as Convergence Consulting; Rick Laxague, joined as a partner in charge of sales, marketing and distribution consulting in 2019. 

Rick hase close to 20 years of experience, a bulk of which was with Crescent Crown Distributing in Arizona. His last role there was Area Sales Manager for the dedicated craft beer division, coaching and leading a sales team to be nationally recognized. In early 2014 Rick helped take a regional brewery national as their Director of National Accounts and increase that segment of their business from 30,000 cases to almost 300,000 cases in two years, an increase that equates to $4.8 million in IRI dollar sales. 

Co-founder Jacob Halls brings 17 years of experience in regulatory compliance, business strategy, marketing and craft brand management to the company. In his former position as craft brand manager for the N.H. Scheppers Distributing Company in Columbia, Missouri, Jacob helped lead his team to winning the 2016 Distributor of the Year award from New Belgium and to a nomination for the Brewers Association’s Distributor of the Year award. Jacob is also the founder and director of the South East Craft Beer Fest and several other industry specific charitable event marketing festivities. Beth Halls is Director of Business Operations and Coordinator of Charity Operations for the festivals and events run by CBC, such as the South East Craft Beer Fest, MO Bacon & Bourbon, and many more. 

Again, please reach out to us for anything.  CBC can be reached at (314) 768-0220 or at craftbeverageconsultants.com.

We look forward to meeting/talking soon.

Sincerely,

Rick Laxague, Jacob Halls, and Beth Halls