How to Start a Winery

two bottles of wine and a barrel in a vineyard.

Starting a winery is a big step affecting your career, finances, and personal life. Therefore preparation, understanding of the industry, and research are all key factors to help you make the right decisions.

This post offers the steps needed to start. Then we will review a few resources that can help during the startup phase and when your business is operational.

Let’s get started with the recommended steps you’ll need to take.

Steps to Starting a Winery

1. Make Sure Running a Business Is Right For You

There are many reasons why people start a business, such as getting out of a job they hate, building their financial future, and becoming their own boss. All of these reasons are valid, but you must ensure you have what it takes to start and run a business.

Running a business takes time, money, hard work, plus planning.

You want to be sure you are up for it and that this is something you want to do for the foreseeable future.

I suggest you take a few minutes to see my article about Business Startup Considerations.

2. Research

Business Research

Researching a winery is a highly critical step to perform before you get started. The better your research, the better you’ll be prepared and the more knowledge you’ll have.

There are ways to get inside information about the business you want to start. I have created a separate article to outline the techniques you can use to get information from qualified people. See An Inside Look Into the Business You Want To Start for more.

Target Audience

Before you start, you want to identify and understand your target audience. The better your understanding, the more you’ll be able to modify your setup, so it matches what your customers will want and expect.

For example, if you target middle age people living on a fixed income, you will want to focus on offering value while creating a great customer experience. On the other hand, if you target a younger group of people with high incomes, offering a high-class theme would be more appropriate.

It’s easier to target one group of people that want what you have to offer than to try to please everyone.

Having a specific demographic doesn’t mean others can’t come to your winery; it just means you cater to one group.

When you have a thorough undertaking of your target market, it will help with pricing your products and services, and it will be easier to create marketing campaigns targeted toward them.

For more, see, How To Understand Your Target Market.

3. Setup Considerations

Starting a winery is a broad term. You need to have a vision of the type you want to open. What products and services will you focus on? Do you want to cater to the retail market or a wholesale market? Are you planning on catering to tours and retail environments or production environments?

When you visualize the type of winery you want then you’ll have success during the startup phase. Without a vision, you will find yourself wandering from idea to idea.

The key is to start with a vision. For example, is your vision to have a winery that’s a restaurant-style setup and your focus is on the hospitality industry?

During your research, you find there is a huge demand for the type of wine you’re planning to produce. Suddenly your vision changed from hospitality to a production facility, and that’s okay, you’re still in the planning stage.

What will hurt you is not having a vision to begin with and your flip-flopping with every idea. You’ll never get anywhere and you’ll waste time, effort, and money.

4. Choosing The Right Business Location

Whether you focus on retail, tourism, hospitality, or production the location to set up is a crucial decision. You must be as close to your target market as possible.

When you have a great location you’ll have a much better chance of success as opposed to opening in the wrong location. For more, see Choosing The Best Location for Your Business.

5. Choose a Business Name

Your business name must be memorable, easy to pronounce, and catchy.

The name you choose now is the name you will most likely keep as long as you own your operation, therefore take the time needed to choose a name that you’ll be happy with now and in the future.

For this important step, see How To Register a Business Name

6. Legalizing Your Company

Registering your company is an important step. First, you want to ensure everything is legal and set up correctly. The size of your winery will determine what type of business structure you’ll need.

For example, a small business owned by one person can start as a sole proprietorship. On the other hand, a business with investors and partners operating on a large scale will need to be registered as an LLC or a corporation.

My recommendation is to speak with a professional. A lawyer and CPA can determine the best structure for your situation.

See, How to Register your Business for more.

7. Create Your Corporate ID

Your corporate ID is the face of your winery, including your business cards, brochures, logo, business sign, website, and promotional materials and items.

You want to leave a good impression on your clients and customers. Therefore, you need a design that is appropriate and professionally designed.

See A Complete Introduction to Corporate Identity Packages for more.

8. Estimating Your Startup Cost

Estimating your startup cause takes time and effort and must be as accurate as possible.

If you estimate too high, you may not be able to get a loan or investors. On the other hand, if you estimate too low, you will run out of money before you start, and getting additional funds may be difficult.

Instead, take the time to research your startup.

For more, see, Estimating Start-up Costs: Are you Missing Anything?

9. Write Your  Business Plan

You must have a business plan if you’re thinking of getting investors or a business loan. A lender will not even fill in an application if you don’t have a business plan. Creating one takes time and effort because a lot of thought goes into it.

Once you’re finished, you’ll be happy that you have one because, in addition to being an essential document, it’s also a roadmap that gives you a clear path of where you’re going and how to get there.

For details, see How to Write a Business Plan.

10. Set up Your Banking

Bank Account:

You’ll need a bank account to separate your personal finances from your business. In addition to setting up a bank account, you want to focus on building a relationship with your banker because they can help you with advice and processing a loan application.

For more, see, How to Open a Business Bank Account.

Merchant Account:

You also need a merchant account to accept credit card payments. But, again, your banker can offer advice and help you with the application.

You may also want to look at, What Is a Merchant Account and How to Get One.

11. Get the Funding for Your Operation

It’s time to make copies of your business plan and schedule appointments with lenders to get the funding you’ll need to start and operate. Your first stop may be the bank you chose in the previous step, and as mentioned, when you have a relationship with your banker, they can offer assistance.

Your first stop may be the bank you chose in the previous step, and as mentioned, when you have a relationship with your banker, they can offer assistance.

Keep in mind getting a business loan is not easy. Banks avoid

Lenders will not fund a risky venture. Therefore, you must minimize the risks to get the funding you need.

See, Getting a Small Business Loan for more.

12. Software Setup

You’ll research software to operate your business. There are two main areas: software to run a business, such as accounting software, and suites like Microsoft office. The second type will be software specific for a winery.

Check out google’s latest search results for software packages for a winery.

13. Get The Right Business Insurance

You’ll need the right type of insurance, whether for a manufacturing plant, a hospitality environment, or a retail environment. Speaking with a qualified broker can provide valuable information to ensure you get the coverage you need.

For more on business insurance, see What to Know About Business Insurance; you will also want to browse the latest search results for winery insurance.

14. Choose Suppliers

The suppliers you choose will have an impact on your operation. A supplier that meets your demands on time and has reasonable prices is one that you won’t take for granted. In addition, suppliers have a level of control over your business.

As an example, if you depend on them for a certain product to run your business and suddenly you’re cut off, you can’t provide the products you deal with to your customers. It is therefore crucial to understand the importance of a supplier. For more see, How To Choose a Supplier.

15. Physical Setup


  • In this step, you’ll set up the layout of your winery. This is a big step that takes time and effort. Depending on the type you have, it’s not a bad idea to get advice from a consultant to ensure your layout is effective and flows nicely.

Office Setup:

  • You’ll want to set up your office to be productive and organized. As a business owner, you will spend a lot of time in your office planning and managing your business, so you want it set up in a way that works well for you. See, Here are Considerations for The Setup of Your Office for the details.

Company Sign:

  • Your company sign is an important part of marketing your business. So naturally, you want your logo incorporated into your business sign and a sign that’s attractive and appropriate. For more, see, All About Company Signs.

16. Creating a Website

Your website is a key point of contact between you and your customers. In addition, it’s also a marketing tool, and it needs to be professionally designed and highly functional.

Think of your website as the primary location online. Do not opt for a social media account such as a Facebook page instead of a website.

You can have additional accounts for your business, but your main site must be something you own and control. For more, see How to Build a Website.

17. Create an External Support Team

An external support team is a group of people not on your payroll but you will use either on a retainer, per-use basis, hourly, or contract. You may or may not be using them constantly, and you probably won’t be using them all simultaneously, but once you have a team, they are there to help you when you need their services or advice.

Your team may consist of a lawyer, a graphic designer, a CPA, a Financial advisor or banker, a marketing expert, consultants, etc. Think of this group as your dream team you go to with a problem, ask for advice, or use their services when you want to expand.

For more, see, Building a Team of Professional Advisors for Your Business.

18. Hiring Employees

In this step, you’ll need to decide on how many employees you’ll need to hire. Remember that payroll is a significant expense for businesses; therefore, you should hire cautiously. It’s easier to hire new staff than to be overstaffed. When you’re overstaffed, your business funds will be drained quickly. On the other hand, when you’re understaffed, you can always get some overtime from your current staff or hire for positions as needed.

One point is to hire the right person for each position. Hiring mistakes will result in lost time and money.

For more, see, How and When to Hire a New Employee.

Next Steps to Evaluate

Now you have an overview of the steps you need to take to start. The next part to consider is getting customers.

We have a separate article for ideas to get customers through the door. Take a few minutes to browse the article to come up with ideas To bring awareness to your operation.

In our article How To Get Customers Through the Door, you’ll find a few ideas you can use.

Having a Grand Opening

Another idea to bring awareness to your business is to have a grand opening. Of course, planning a grand opening takes time and effort. But, done correctly, you can create a memorable one and get people talking about your winery.

See How To Plan a Grand Opening for more.

Marketing Ideas

There are many marketing ideas to bring awareness to your business. I suggest you browse our marketing section for tips and insights you can use to market your winery.

See our marketing section to spark your creativity for marketing ideas.


In the following section, you’ll find a few resources you can use during the startup phase, and when it’s up and running. You may want to bookmark this page so you can come back and use the resources anytime you need them.

Wine Industry Trends and Statistics

Trends in statistics related to the wine industry will give you an overview of the industry and how it’s performing.

Another point worth mentioning about industry trends is that you’ll be able to identify opportunities in your industry that you can take advantage of.

Wine Industry trends and statistics.

Top Wineries

When you study the top wineries in the country, you’ll gain a strong overview of the marketplace, do you have an idea of what you’re up against, and know if you’re missing anything in your plan for your winery. It’s a good idea to spend a couple of hours or even days going through the most popular wineries from the link below.

See the Latest Search Results of the top wineries.

The Future of the Wine Industry

Similar to trends in statistics studying the future of the wine industry will give you an idea of where the industry is headed and offer insights into upcoming technologies that you’ll be aware of and have an opportunity to take advantage of.

The future of the wine industry.

Knowledge Is Power!

One of the most important commodities in the world is knowledge. When you’re knowledgeable in a certain area, you make better decisions and have the opportunity to increase your income.

In the following section, you have access to the resources below that can help you improve your knowledge of the wine industry.


Forms related to wineries are a great way to make connections in the industry, be a part of discussions, contribute and make connections.


Courses are another excellent way to improve your knowledge and build your skills. I prefer self-study courses, especially those online, because most come with lifetime access, and I can access the information anytime I want.


Subscribing to blogs is another excellent way to build your knowledge in the industry. Below you’ll find resources that lead to some of the top blogs available for the wine industry. I suggest you subscribe to the ones that appeal to you, and when your feed starts to fill out, choose the ones you like best, and unsubscribe to those that don’t offer much value.


Books are another source of information you can use. There are many formats today whether you prefer print additions, digital editions, or audiobooks.


The news is another way to stay up-to-date with the wine industry. Using a site like Google News allows you to get instant filtered results, and you can even set up alerts to get a notification anytime the media publishes something related to the wine industry.


Videos are another excellent source of information that you can use related to operating a winery and learning about the wine industry’s different sectors.