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Starting a Winery

Are you looking to start a winery in the state of Pennsylvania? This article provides you with a list of "getting started" resources that are important for you to read through: before, during, and after you get started.
  1. The Pennsylvania Winery Association (PWA) offers a wide variety of information available to Pennsylvania wineries. Although their focus is assisting pre-existing wineries with marketing and state legislation, they can lead you on the right track.
  2. Take a winemaking course at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) online. This is the perfect program for those looking to start/own a winery and be a winemaker or enologist. Plus, all courses are ONLINE and provide practical training! For more information, visit the link above and check out the Enology Program's tech sheet.
  3. In addition to the federal (TTB) and state (PLCB) licensing requirements all new wineries will also have to obtain a Retail Food Facility License from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). [For registration with the PDA, please click on "Manufacturing, Processing, Distribution, Wholesaling - Wholesale" in the gray "More Information" box on the right hand side of the screen. From there, you can find a Q&A publication titled "Winery & Farmers Market Q&A" on the right hand side of that screen, in addition to general registration information. For other retail satellite location information, click on "Retail Food Facilities and Restaurants" in the gray box on the right hand side of the screen]
  4. Review Penn State Extension's "Starting a Food Business" website. Although this is focused towards other food products, there are some good tips and pointers throughout these pages.
  5. Several winery business plans are available online (search "winery business plan" on Google) and offer good insight into the financial investment a winery requires.
  6. Review Bob Green's Production Considerations listed below before committing to building a new facility.
  7. If you are looking to hire expertise there are several resources available for those in the wine business. Winejobs.com posts current job openings and classifieds for the national wine industry. Additionally, a few regional producers post classified for jobs, harvest positions, equipment and bulk sales on the Penn State Extension blog site, Wine & Grapes U.

Production Considerations

Bob Green, Director of HACC's Viticulture and Enology program, has provided several considerations important for new winery owners to review before committing to the production facility's renovations or building:

  • Project and write down your needs for the winemaking facility before designing the facility.
  • Include enough storage space for wet and dry products, in addition to separated sanitation and/or chemical storage. These products should be physically separated from food grade materials (e.g., yeast, sugar, acid, etc.).
  • Most wineries outgrow their storage space within 1 year of opening.
  • Make sanitation practices an integral part of routine production practices. Consider this during the developmental stage of designing your facility.
  • Consider building a new facility to avoid expensive costs associated with renovations.
  • Avoid skimping on those things that are necessities.
  • Contact a wine consultant to review your facility before committing to construction. Consider his/her suggestions.
  • Know that to be a great winemaker, one must continue to educate him/herself.
  • Consider your wine consumer and the current wine market when developing a business plan. Do research.

Book Resources

Additionally, there are several resources available that you should consider reading and understanding prior to building, operating, and opening a winery. These books primarily focus on commercial winemaking practices, the use of analytical quality control in the winery, proper wine microbiology, and winery economics. Although winemaking can be fun and artistic, there is also a basic science involved that is essential to understand in order to produce high quality wines in Pennsylvania. Below is a list of several books that may be helpful to someone starting out with a new wine business:

Starting a Winery or Getting in the Wine Business

  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting and Running a Winery by Thomas Pellechia. (2008) ISBN: 1592578187.

  • How to Launch Your Wine Career: Dream Jobs in America's Hottest Industry by Liz Thatch and Brian D'Emilio. (2009) ISBN: 1934259063

Wine Production

  • Commercial Winemaking, Processing, and Controls by Richard P. Vine. (1981) ISBN: 87055-376-3 (Please note that this is an older text and a bit of the information is outdated. However, it contains a lot of good information on starting a winery laboratory for production purposes.)
  • Monitoring the Winemaking Process from Grapes to Wine: Techniques and Concepts by Patrick Iland, Nick Bruer, Andrew Ewart, Andrew Markides, and John Sitters. (2004) ISBN: 095816052.
  • Micro Vinification: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale Wine Production by Murli R. Dharmadhikari and Karl L. Walker. (2001) ISBN: 0970797109

Wine Analysis

  • Chemical Analysis of Grapes and Wine: Techniques and Concepts by Patrick Iland, Nick Bruer, Greg Edwards, Sue Weeks, and Eric Wilkes. (2004) ISBN: 0958160511
  • Microbiological Analysis of Grapes and Wine: Techniques and Concepts by Patrick Iland, Paul Grbin, Martin Grinbergs, Leigh Schmidtke, and Allison Sodin in conjunction with the Interwinery Analysis Group. (2007) ISBN: 0958160544
  • Wine Analysis and Production by Bruce W. Zoecklein, Kenneth C. Fugelsang, Barry H. Gump, and Fred S. Nury. (1999) ISBN:0-8342-1701-5 (Please note that the content of this book is meant for those that have a scientific background.)
  • Wine Microbiology: Practical Applications and Procedures by Kenneth C. Fugelsang and Charles G. Edwards. (2007) ISBN:0-387-33341-X
  • Introduction to Wine Laboratory Practices and Procedures by Jean L. Jacobson. (2006) ISBN: 0-387-24377-1

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Starting a Winery

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Contact Information

Denise M. Gardner
  • Extension Associate
Phone: 610-489-4315