Sunday, March 22, 2009

Micro-Winery Update

Brad Post:

This post builds on what I last wrote about inching a step closer toward establishing a micro-winery. Since last time, we have spoken with city officials about starting a "basement" winery and learned what we need to do to make that happen -- basically, we need to have our neighbors sign-off indicating whether they are okay or not with us making wine here (i.e., to let them know how much noise/smell they can expect). We also spoke with our state wine licensing person who indicated obtaining local/county approval is the step most aspiring winemakers in Iowa tend to overlook -- an expensive mistake, she tells me.

Over the weekend we attended the Iowa Wine Growers Association annual conference and met with vendors and some industry people. Everything from crusher/destemmers to closures were available for us to look over and take samples. We also had a chance to talk with a couple of insurance-type folks - things you might not initially think of when planning a winery (e.g., workers compensation and bonding). The list of things to consider seems to continually grow! We are fortunate as we have already made inroads with many industry leaders who are very willing to share their knowledge with us.

Here is a list of things we need/want to acquire by this fall: 1) crusher/destemmer (we have a good lead on a used one), 2) press, 3) pump, 4) plate/frame filter (might be able to use this as a pump too), 5) tanks (have just secured several used tanks - yay!), 6) bottle filler. This doesn't even include finishing the licensing requirements and then next year about this time...bottles, labels, closures. Yikes!

Just yesterday my brother and I were talking about a winery, in Maryland, whose representative approached the restaurant he works with (restaurant 213) bringing along 11 or so different types of wine. He indicated the rep. should have brought the 2 good wines they make and leave the 9 remaining ones behind. This leads to my question....we are going to be producing very small batches of wine, on the order of 200-400 gallons per year (1000-2000 bottles), so should an aspiring winery make the wine we like (that might sell out) or cater to the demands of the Iowa wine drinking public (who tends to like their wine on the sweeter side)?

At present we are leaning toward producing two different reds (midwestern grown grapes - varietal undecided) and use them in a variety of ways. If you have any comments, particularly related to the business-side of things, we'd welcome your thoughts.

Happy Tastings!

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