10 Steps to Expand Your Winery

Delaney McDonald | August 11, 2020

Looking to enter a new market or bring new wines to the marketplace? Growing any business can be complicated, and the beverage alcohol industry is no exception. Not knowing how or where to begin can be the biggest hurdle. From market research and branding to strategic considerations and compliance, this 10-step guide will get you on the right path in expanding your winery’s footprint.  

1. Assess your current operations

Before trying to expand or launch a new product, it’s important to take a look at your current operations. Make sure you are already meeting all registration and compliance requirements and determine if you have enough staff, equipment and financial resources for an expansion.

2. Evaluate the market

Do extensive research on what varietals are trending, up and coming, and currently popular to help you determine if your product will have demand right away. Determine which states have the highest wine consumption, signalling strong demand. This will help you determine who to target, and how your winery can capitalize on market opportunities.

3. Revisit your branding

In a market with hundreds and hundreds of options it’s important to make your brand and product attract consumers’ attention. Consider how you can present your brand through visual design, aesthetically pleasing or differentiated packaging, a compelling brand story, or any other component that makes your brand unique.

4. Know your audience

For your target audience, identify things like geography, age, psychographics, shopping preferences, and the types of wine and brands frequently purchased. Knowing and applying this information to your product will help it resonate with consumers on a personal level, increasing the likelihood of success.

5. Plan your strategy

Successful expansion relies on meticulous planning. Figure out your distribution strategy for each new area you want to enter and refine your sales pitch. Pin down details like if you are targeting a more local or national audience, and if your messaging and product placement will remain the same regardless of the market you enter.

6. Sort out your logistics

After you’ve planned your strategy, now it’s time to organize the logistics, from supply chain to infrastructure. These factors can change based on location and the type of wine you sell, so it’s important to have a thorough understanding and extensive plan.

7. Choose your distributors

Make sure your distributors will care for your products, and be transparent with them regarding the time and resources you need. Verify that your products will fit in with their sales model and establish clear goals that you can use to measure success in the future. Taking the time upfront to determine if your distributors can meet your needs will save you a lot of time and resources down the road.

8. Get compliant

Now it’s time to obtain all the correct licenses and registrations you need to legally distribute your wine in new states. When it comes to excise taxes, shipping reports, licenses, registrations, price posting, and Certificates of Label Approvals (COLAs) the rules and requirements vary by state, making compliance complicated. Don’t underestimate the time, effort and importance of this step.

9. Remain compliant

Stay on top of your compliance with regularly paying taxes and filing shipping reports. Actively track your data and measure your performance periodically to make sure you’re meeting goals and expectations and remain in good standing in each state where you have sales. If you get behind on state filings you risk penalties, fines or loss of licenses.

10. Assess, reflect, repeat

Assess the process and reflect on your successes and any mistakes you’ve made along the way. Use this information to better your next expansion—whether it’s moving into even more regions or increasing product diversity.

Help your winery get and stay compliant today.