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Wine Making Talk

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As you know, i've been working hard to go commercial with our wines. we'll we're there. time to actually start. i would like to keep this thread concise to help others in the future and provide as much info as i can. We are located outside of Hermann, Missouri in Montegomery County (Hermann City is in Gasconade County). We are making fruit wines, mixed wines and fortified wines.

First, I'm going to go into details about actually starting a winery. That starts with paperwork. Lots of it. First you need a business license (such as a LLC). Then you have to come up with property layouts (diagrams built to scale) for the ATF. there's alot of paperwork involved in submitting to the ATF. They'll want to know how much you plan on making, how you are going to get rid of the waste (both water and solids) and other miscellaneous details (like an FBI background check on all people involved in ownership). You will also have to deal with the department of natural resources (DNR) for water quality and waste disposal. They want information about how much waste each wine will create because that's another way of them checking you are being legit about quantities of wine made. After filling out about 20 pages or so (with diagrams added), you then get word from them whether you are ok to proceed. Then there is State Gov't, which every one is different. Most of the paperwork is the same in our case, in another form basically. I, personally didn't fill out most of the paperwork, so I'm not sure about all of it. Then there is county and city (if applicable). We're not in city limits. :). There are other licensing you have options of getting, like beer sales, etc. Food on premise is much more paperwork, that we didn't feel like we needed. byof! Within 3-6 months of working on paperwork, making diagrams and sending off paperwork (with checks $), you can be licensed to make wine. In all, i think there was about $1500 for just fees.
 
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Lets talk about the property.

Before doing the above, you'll want a good spot. Zoning is an issue. Schools and churches can be a problem. Make sure before buying property, you get permission from local governments (in writing!) that the place is good to go. Remember to look into water and waste disposal options. Heating and cooling are another issue. We bought a house with an extra large garage (30' x 30'), heated and cooling already inside, with SEPARATE electric meter. that part is also a must have. A winery has to be separate from any residence for the building (although technically the building can be the same, IF there are not ANY entrances from the inside between the two. Meaning you have to go outside to enter the winery part of the building). Water and electric must also be separate. Also, you need to build the walls and floor to deal with water for cleaning and sanitary purposes. We put up plastic paneling and installed floor drains (concrete work sucks!). Hot water is also a must. You'll need a parking or some kind of street access. Location is also key. easier to make money when you have traffic nearby. we are off a the major road that goes into Hermann, which is one of the first appellations in the country (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann,_Missouri). A good view never hurts



Be aware that the ATF is also very concerned with security. We were lucky that we have a one-way-in building with small windows. the door was steel already and the windows will be barred from the inside (made by me). there are other security measures we have taken, but it's not something you want to reveal ;). to put it simply, it must be secure and they will want your plan to do so in the paperwork. I just hope we don't lose the keys for some reason! lol
 
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ok, now lets move onto the equipment.

we aren't rich, so we had to go plastic. if we do well, we'll convert to SS. we have about 2100 gallons worth of tanks. first year goal, make 10,000 bottles. i'll divulge what will fill them in another thread closer to opening day, so please be patient :). i'm aware of the bent tank stands. they will be replaced (not our fault).

primaries


an SS press is a must have. wood just won't last as long and they're really not that much cheaper.


a pump is a necessity, but they are really expensive to do wine with must. so, we have found a special wand made of stainless that will filter out the must. cheaper pump =$750, wand= $250, must pump = $2500+. money is an issue and you'll have to be creative to save it. if you have high ceilings, build racks up the wall and start the primaries up high. use gravity just like at home, if you can. we only had 9' ceilings and couldn't do it. 10' might work, but a building without a ceiling would be even better.
 
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also, the health department will require certain things. work with them before you try to get an inspection. call them up and ask what they will want with your situation. sinks are a must have also.


hand sink, restaurant style. even though we can wash our hands in the other sink, they wanted a "hand wash station."
 
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now for ingredients. we have made contacts with farmers and suppliers for the types of wines we are going to produce. growing grapes isn't easy, nor is harvesting berries and such. the market is good for buyers, so look around and you'll find great deals. we have a few extra ingredients that i cannot divulge (eww, top secret, lol), but be aware that making large quantities of a different style of wine isn't easy. i plan on expanding and eventually growing select types of plants.

labels. the label we are going to be using will be posted here and hopefully soon. i have a graphic design degree and am using GIMP (FREEWARE :) ) to produce it. it's similar to photoshop, but a little slower to get the right result as it lacks some of the quick and easy features. it's also a RAM hog and an older computer can't hack too many files at the same time. luckily mine isn't too shabby for how old it is. if the label is uniform to each variety with only slight wording changes, i believe you can get by with only making one and describing what will change for each. also, labels aren't cheap. a printer is about $2,500 and labels for them are ~5 cents or so. if you buy them from a company, they will run about $1500 for 10,000 and usually $500 for a design (which i wouldn't need).

Advertising. This is very important for a new winery, but ours is simple. Get a sign on the major road leading into town, get some business cards and create a website. i'll have a site up before opening and will post it here. it won't be fancy, but we are thinking of doing a Missouri only shipping via phone. Not sure about that though.

Tasting room. It is built and needs interior finished, but we are doing the minimal work, so nothing real fancy. Function is more important than form, but it doesn't hurt to make things appealing either. It will be clean, simple and hopefully, enjoyable for all. It must also have water for hand washing, which now has turned into putting in a full septic system for just a sink! Since that is the case, we are putting in bathrooms.

Restrooms. You have to have them and since the above happened (health departement), we are going to have indoor bathrooms. It's not going to cost us more because a system is already required. There are requirements for handicap and we are happy to comply with those. We want the experience to be good for everyone.
 
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PPBart

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...We are located outside of Hermann, Missouri in Montegomery County (Hermann City is in Gasconade County)...
Great thread! Do you know the history of Hermann and wine? I just finished reading "The Wild Vine", a history of the Norton grape and how it almost became a great grape. Hermann plays a large role in the history, and is described as "the Napa before there was really a Napa".

Best of luck for your venture!
 

Runningwolf

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Midwest, thanks for starting this thread. Awesome pictures and I look forward to reading your posts as you progress. Best of luck to you and your new venture.
 

countrygirl

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please keep us posted for opening day...you are close enough, i will try my bestest to be there!
 

grapeman

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Interesting stuff. Can you tell me what the conical tanks are? They look like the ones from Plastic-Mart. They say they are for wine, but I'm wondering how you make them airtight with a vented lid. Is that an option? How do you draw out of them without disturbing any lees at the bottom? I'm assuming these ewill act as secondaries for short term storage.

Your sinks look like the ones I bought for my winery, except I got a three compartment with only a left side drainboard. They are very nice. The handsink looks identical-faucet even.
 
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Interesting stuff. Can you tell me what the conical tanks are? They look like the ones from Plastic-Mart. They say they are for wine, but I'm wondering how you make them airtight with a vented lid. Is that an option? How do you draw out of them without disturbing any lees at the bottom? I'm assuming these ewill act as secondaries for short term storage.

Your sinks look like the ones I bought for my winery, except I got a three compartment with only a left side drainboard. They are very nice. The handsink looks identical-faucet even.
yep, plastic mart tanks. they lids can be sealed (not an option, but the hole is small), so that's not really an issue. to draw out of them, we'll have to use a thief. they are far from ideal, but far from the price of ideal.

i really like the sink and there are 2 of us really working the wine so 2 sides makes it easier. Handsinks must be in every building used for wine making or wine sales for sanitation.

Gotta go, sugar arrived!
 
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winemaker_3352

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Yeah - definitely let us know when it opens - i will have to take a 2 hour drive and check it out.
 
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PPBart, actually, i've read alot about Hermann (one of the top 3 wine producing cities in the world in the mid-1800's, IIRC), but there is always more to know.

I will let all know when we open and thanks for good wishes. i'm not ashamed to say i've learned alot in here. when i started, it was all experience from making wine and i wasn't as interested in it as an exact science. in the last 2 years, i've been studying hard. problem is, we do wines that most don't, so much of the knowledge has to be used subjunctively.

i hope the information here might clarify what is needed and if you are willing to do so. Our budget is in the $90-120K range to get this going, counting all improvements, equipment, ingredients, etc. That is without property costs, which is relatively small for us. This is Missouri cost, so the coasts will be much higher. For example, our home with all the buildings and 3.7 acres was less than $150K.
 
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rodo

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Love the photos looking forward to more.

In the August issue of Southern Living magazine there is a one page article about Hermann with a mention of Stone Hill Winery and a photo of the Adam Pucta Winery. The article says your area was the "largest wine producing region in the US prior to prohibition" and that "Hermann is is central to Missouri's up and coming wine country".
 
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Roatan_Mark

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Bravo on the new venture! I am interested in how the plastic actually works out as I am really close to buying a couple of 30 or 60 gallon type for our small place here on the island. SS as you say isnt an option at this time due to cost. I do believe that plastic if well cared for should last a while anyway.
 

okree

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Primary Bins

If you don't mind me asking, what is the capacity of your primaries and where did you find them?

BTW, excellent information.... thanks for sharing!
 
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If you don't mind me asking, what is the capacity of your primaries and where did you find them?

BTW, excellent information.... thanks for sharing!
240 gal. from plastic mart (online).

Mark>>i agree. the plastic isn't thin and thus far, has held well. we've got 2 of them full now with NO headroom. as grapeman pointed out, there are vents in the lid that we've had to work around, but fixed that with cutting a piece of food grade plastic the size of the hole and jamming it in there. i'm sure there is a tiny bit of air getting past still, but not enough to do damage compared to the amount of wine. we are looking into using gas to protect it, but as of now, the wines are being made to be bottled early to make a late spring opening.


UPDATE: we now have blackberry, pecan and pineapple wines in the making!!!
 
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Woodbee

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Glad to see that you guys got more nuts a cookin. I hope they are all MO pecans and not those snooty NM ones.
Brad
 

jeepingchick

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oh wow! wish u were closer so i could come walk around and drool over the equipment!!
 
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