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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011

    Lightbulb Selling Wine in New York

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    New York State -> Nassau County (Long Island)

    I am interested in purchasing wine in bulk from a local winery, bottling it and selling it under my own brand. Does anyone know the various laws that I'll need to follow?

    My main concerns are:
    - What licenses and/or permits do I need? (federal, state and local levels)
    - Are there different permits, at all levels, for different volumes of sales? (100 bottles versus 10,000 bottles?)
    - What do I need to put on the bottle? (alcohol content, government warning, origin of wine)
    - How can I go about selling the wine? For example: Can I sell direct to liquor stores or do I need a distributor?
    - How can I legally promote the wine?

    There are all sorts of laws regarding the sale of alcohol and I'd like to make sure that I am not breaking any. If anyone can provide some help I'd greatly appreciate it.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    You'd be best to hire a consultant. In NY you need a winery license which there are size-based versions of (the smallest called the micro-winery is probably where you want to start out). You then need to go for a federal license from the TTB. Your labels must correspond to certain regulatory requirements for as seen here [IMG]http://www.ttb.gov/pdf/brochures/p51901.pdf[/IMG} and you must sumbit your labels for approval. Even knowing the rules I got mine wrong the first time.

    New York does allow small wineries to self distribute to retailers (stores and restaurants). Whether you find that advantageous or not depends on your situation. Most other states will require you go through a distributor for retail sales. If you're going to direct ship, there are a maze of state regs (try [img]www.freethegrapes.org[/img] for info. The common carriers (you can not ship wine by mail) like FEDEX and UPS have specific requirements they want you to follow as well.

    Your best bet would be to contract with the winery to handle much of this. My wine is produced here in Virginia under the auspices of a "craft winery." It's legal to sell here, though I pretty much bought the entire production run (about 300 bottles) myself.

    The 2009 wine was Syrah made from Washington State fruit. 2010 I have some very nice Zinfandel from the Alexander Valley. It's about the time of the year to start my label design, it goes into the bottles in late August.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011


    Thanks for the great feedback. It sounds like this would involve a lot of leg work to get up and running on my own. You mention contracting with a winery. Do you have any information on what would be involved if we went that route? I guess we'd have to contact some local wineries to find out but it might take care of a lot of the issues.

    Ultimately our goal is to come up with an interesting brand and sell the brand. The wine itself doesn't have to be great, but we want to target a segment with fancy labels, cases and advertising.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Don't know of any in New York State that specifically do this but you can probably call around various ones and see if any will work with you. Down here in Virginia we have two I believe. The one I deal with is vinthill.com. I know there are ones in Maryland and the kind of founder of the concept is called CRUSHPAD out in California.

    Do know however, that it is near impossible to really make a profitable wine in this manner. Production costs run about $14 a bottle so if you figure you have to sell it retail at $28 you're really pushing whether anybody will pay that much for a unproven NY wine. Most of the small wineries bank on a personal association / experience with the customer for the bulk of their sales.

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