Start a Wine Business
Let Your Passion Breathe
Ever wonder if you had what it takes to start a Wine Business?
Can you tell the difference between Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Sauvignon Blancs from other parts of the world? Can you read this wine description and know exactly what the author meant: “Ripe, rich and round, with lots of spicy, earth-scented black cherry and berry flavors, hinting deliciously at chocolate on the smooth finish”? Are you the type who can sip and talk about Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, or Frascati for hours and not get bored stiff?
If your answer to all three questions is yes, you could be wine savvy. Now, why not put your love of fine wines into a profitable business? The best part about wine is that it never goes out of style, so the kind of wine you make today will still be in demand decades or even centuries later.
Why Start a Wine Business?
The wine business is a $26 billion industry that is growing every minute, with people’s craving for a combination of good food, good wine, and good conversation leads to more wine bottles getting corked and uncorked. Key players in the industry are saying that there is still room for anyone who wants to take a sip of his own share of profits in the wine business.
When starting a wine business, you can choose to put up any of the following:
- Open your own wine shop and sell wines by the bottle to customers within a community.
- Open your own wine bar, and attract wine drinkers, both locals and tourists alike.
- Or, start your own winery or vineyard and have your say on how wine products are made, packaged and shipped.
Start a Wine Business the Smart Way
To start a wine business, however, calls for a solid knowledge of wine, and this skill definitely goes beyond knowing that there’s white wine and there’s red wine. Here are a few tips to get you on the road to starting a wine business:
- Take a wine course. One way to brush up on your knowledge about wine before starting a wine business is to take a formal training. This is definitely a good route to take if you are more interested in the production aspect of wine. A good start may be the free CIA wine course to get you acquainted with wine concepts and lingo.
- Work in a wine retail store. While a degree will familiarize you with wine and give structure to what you have gathered through the years as a wine enthusiast, nothing still compares to actually working in a wine retail store to get your foot in the door. In fact, some wine experts say that this experience will give you an opportunity to taste more wines in a month than in a year of attending wine courses. You will know about different wines than in any area of the wine industry. Working in a retail store will also give you a valuable insight of the different types and needs of wine consumers and cater to them.
The children of commercial winery owners often ask their children to gain experience in a retail store first for a few months or years before they take the reins of running the family business. Other similar routes include working in restaurants as a sommelier, wine waiter, or beverage manager.
- Read about wine. To better equip you with the knowledge of what it takes to start a wine business, read books, magazines, or trade publications about wine. One expert recommended reading Kevin Zraly’s “Windows of the World” as a good start to whet your thirst for more wine knowledge.
- Take notes. It’s not enough to read and taste wine without actually making an effort to be able to identify origins, varietals, producers, and vintages. Take detailed notes of the different nuances of wines you’ve tasted.
- Establish contacts. As in other business ventures, having connections speak volumes when you begin to start a wine business. Forge partnerships with key players in the wine business such as winemakers and owners of wineries. This will give you access to harder-to-find wines. You will then be able to establish a good following among finicky customers. This calls for you to develop a more outgoing personality. By the way, as one wine expert puts it, partying is an indispensable part of the job of people involved in the wine industry.
- Understand wine pairings. As you develop more intimacy with wine, you should be able to understand certain nuances in wine that make certain types more compatible with certain foods. Borscht, for example, is believed to go best with Ceviche, fried chicken, or seafood cocktail, among other recipes. You will get asked a lot about this by customers wanting some ideas to enhance their enjoyment of food. For some novel ideas to get you started on this path, check out Wine Answers.
- Know effective positioning of the brand. One of the key strategies in building a strong and unique brand image is effective positioning. This is loosely defined as knowing how to draw out the best attributes of each wine and capitalizing on these to better entice customers to buy the brand. Cyberspace offers a well of information about this concept. A good example can be found at
- Take advantage of web tools. The internet provides a lot of resources you can use to further enrich your knowledge about the wine industry, and connect you with fellow wine enthusiasts. RadCru.com, a marketplace on the web that highlights daily a particular wine direct from the winery, WineBusiness.com, and Wine Business Education are just some web tools that are particularly useful in your journey to begin to start a wine business.
You can even order some e-books on the internet that give a very comprehensive startup kit that covers every step of the way in starting a wine business. From choosing the right wines, to budgeting and inventory control, to information about licenses, permits and other regulations that govern the wine business, to advice on tested marketing strategies, these e-books are a well of information for wine lovers interested in what needs to be done to start a wine business.
If wine is a masterpiece, then the people behind this exquisite invention are artisans whose love for wine becomes the lifeblood of the business. The booming wine industry is yet another proof that combining passion and an eye for business can lead the way to profits. Now, let’s drink to that!
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