Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Small Premium Wineries

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New York premium wineries have made considerable progress in the last decade or so when measured by several indicators: winning national and international wine competitions; growth in sales of ten percent or more annually, and increased winery visitation by both local wine consumers as well as out-of-state and Canadian tourists. Yet the state’s small wineries are still locked primarily into direct market sales at the winery and in-state distribution channels. The development of ultra premium varietal wines made from varieties that have been shown to be adaptable to New York State’s climate and soil conditions would be a real boon to the New York industry. First, it would increase profits to both growers and/or vintners, thereby stimulating the local economy in terms of new investment in wineries and vineyards. Secondly, attaining such a premium position in the market would make possible the marketing of these wines in desirable, carefully targeted national and international markets, as well as the metropolitan New York City market which Finger Lakes wineries have yet to penetrate in any significant way. Thirdly, it would attract further attention to the still fledgling New York industry. The development of such premium quality wines marketed at higher prices would indeed signal that New York is a world class wine producer, a distinction that the state’s wine industry has avidly sought for the last three decades. It would also attract interest from outside investors who might start new vineyards and wineries or buy existing desirable properties. This bulletin is intended as a guide to help current winery owners as well as potential investors and new winery entrants to develop a business plan for a small premium winery. The emphasis is placed on marketing at higher price points then have generally been attained in New York. The Guide is developed so that entrepreneurs can read a section that leads to the development of one part of the business plan. Then leading questions are asked and blanks are provided for writing the specifics of the plan for a particular firm and proposed winery. When all blanks are filled in, the document will constitute a business plan that may be taken to lenders, potential investors, and other financial advisors for evaluation and to attract capital for the venture.

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