Opening a winery is a dream that more and more people share, but it is not something to be taken lightly or unprepared for. Before investing a large sum of money into a property and equipment, you need to ask many questions and find the answers you need to know. This article will not provide you with all the information you need to start a winery and launch a brand (that would require a few books), but it will at least give you a solid starting point for your research.
If you are serious about your dream, then you will need some basic equipment. And by basic, we mean it. This is almost the minimum, so depending on what you want to distill, the quantity you want to produce, and what your process requires, you may need to adjust this list.
You can’t make wine without water. Distillation involves adding and subtracting water throughout the production process, so your distillery needs a good source of water.
An Induction Cooker
Essentially, a cooker is where you put grains and water together, heating everything to a specific temperature within a specified time. It helps to install some pipes in the cooker and then transfer the cooked mixture to the fermentation tank, but a pump is sufficient.
The fermentation tank is a large container where you can ferment grains, yeast, and water slurry. Basically, yeast consumes sugar and produces alcohol during the process. After a few days (depending on your process), you will run the remaining portion through the still.
Stainless Steel Fermentation Tank
This should be self-evident, but for the sake of completeness, you will need a distiller to actually produce drinkable alcohol.
It wouldn’t hurt to have drains installed on the floor for waste disposal.
Copper Column Distiller
Before you start, there are two main questions you need to answer:
1) What do you want to produce?
2) How much do you want to produce?
If you don’t have answers to these two questions, you won’t even be able to start looking for a building. Everything in your winery will be based on these two factors. “Everything” and “as much as possible” are not acceptable answers. Do some research so you can define your market and understand what that market will support. A business plan is a must.
Of course, we have been asked countless times what it takes to open a winery, and there are usually follow-up questions. So, we will continue to answer some of the most common questions:
What does it take to become a Master Brewer?
Simply put, experience. Becoming a master brewer does not require any tests or certifications; anyone can use this title as they see fit. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing or release a bad product, be prepared to face endless ridicule. There’s nothing wrong with a title like Head Distiller. Spend some time making various products, master the art of making one or two, and then work towards a grander title.
Is it too late to open a winery? Is the market saturated?
Not at all. There is great prosperity now, but that doesn’t mean there is no room left. Look at craft beer, new breweries open every week, and the number continues to grow. The same goes for craft spirits.
Is it harder than opening a brewery?
Yes. Opening a winery not only costs more than opening a brewery but also requires compliance with more regulations, which means more inspections. Compared to beer, due to the higher quality standards for spirits, everything in and around the building must adhere to stricter safety standards, resulting in more time and capital investment. Not to mention that you have to pay higher taxes on spirits compared to beer.