Writing a Business Plan: An Example for a Small Premium Winery

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This is the second publication directed toward helping vintners and prospective investors to develop a business plan for a premium winery in New York State. (The first publication was Pisoni and White, Writing a Business Plan: A Guide for Small Premium Wineries, E. B. 2002-06). The first bulletin was a template for developing a business plan for a small premium winery in New York State. The main aim of this bulletin is to serve as an example of a business plan, developed using the format from EB 2002-06, that demonstrates the marketing potential and the financial feasibility for a winery producing premium wines that sell at price points above $20 per bottle. The plan has three major components. The first component emphasizes the plan of operations and the management team for the example winery. The second component is the development of a marketing strategy that will differentiate the premium product from other wines in the market. This differentiation is aimed at enabling the premium producer to market wines at prices not yet received by many New York wineries. Emphasis will be placed on various aspects of product offering, price, promotion, and distribution strategies. In particular, emphasis will be devoted to developing alternative distribution outlets. It is hypothesized that New York producers must emphasize different marketing channels, not relying only on sales at the tasting room, to be successful in the premium category. The third component of the example business plan estimates the investment and operating costs for a small winery producing the highest quality Pinot Noir. To ensure efficient use of the winery’s facilities and to meet current market demands, the proposed winery will also produce small high quality lots of Chardonnay, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc. This production strategy will allow the winery to best use its equipment and distribute through the optimal marketing channels. Winery equipment needs in the example plan were developed through consultations with premium California producers and representatives of equipment suppliers. The equipment component list was then refined to fit the New York situation by consultations with Thomas Henick-Kling, Thomas Cottrell and members of the Research Committee of the Finger Lakes Pinot Noir Alliance. The Research Committee also helped to specify the retail prices and the allocation percentages to the three distribution channels (winery tasting room, direct to retailers, and distributors). The overall goal of the project was to develop an optimal marketing strategy, enological and viticultural practices, and evaluate the economic feasibility for producing an ultra premium Pinot Noir varietal wine in New York State. Specific objectives were 1) To develop a strategy for successfully marketing ultra premium wines from New York State priced at higher price points (i. e. $20 per bottle) than most wineries are now attaining, 2) To develop cash flow estimates for 10 years in the development of the prototype winery to determine the economical potential. 3) To assess the risk of investment in the model winery to economic parameters such as wine prices, interest rates, grape prices, and equipment costs. For vineyard practices and costs for these premium vinifera varietals, see White and Pisoni, Cost of Establishment and Production of Vinifera Grapes in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, 2001 (E.B. 2002-01).

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