How To Live The Winery Lifestyle
The wine business has a culture all its own. Long days in the vineyard, weekends tending wine in the cellar, bottling, marketing, promoting, wine tastings, tours, wine education……the list never ends. Working with wine is a career that takes no holidays since every customer wants wine for their holidays! You must have incredible patience, passion, and the ability to take risks when developing your wines while in the cellar. It’s hard work but the benefits in the end are just as incredible and if you develop award winning wines, you will feel like a rock star! You will need to buy some acreage, plant the grape vines, tend the soil, take care of the vines as they mature, pick the grapes, tend the cellar (usually for years), bottle the wines, design a tasting room and winery, market and open the winery, and build up your loyal clientele who adore your wines and can’t stay away from your beautiful property. It could take years to find the right people and supplies to get your winery started!
If your question is “What is the easiest way for me to get my vineyard, winery, or tasting room together using the best people and supplies?”. The answer would be to attend the next Eastern Winery Exposition since many quality wine companies exhibit their products and services right here in one place! I just attended this annual March event that does bring many of the best wine companies together to provide for your winery needs. This exposition also provides many informative seminars and workshops hosted by expert speakers are in the wine profession who will answer your questions about a vineyard and winery business. These speakers are winery owners, vineyard managers, winemakers, agriculture professors, and financial experts. There were over 30 wine seminars and workshops in the 2020 exposition!
I spent 2 days at this event and was able to attend some workshops, meet winery owners, tasted some great Eastern United States wines, and met all the suppliers I felt I would possibly need to start a winery or wine business. Wine barrels, bottles, corks, labeling, real estate, marketing, wire fencing, pest control, tractors, stainless steel tanks, wine glasses, tasting bars, bulk wine juice, packaging, trellising, wine travel luggage, sanitizing equipment, grape crushing machinery, wine making chemicals, and so much more! This was a huge exposition with about 250 different companies all ready to give you knowledge and answer your questions. To give you a better idea of who you may meet should you attend in 2021 are listed below:
You have found some acreage and now its time to plant some grapevines. Now the farmer in you can take over and you can grow your grapes and later make your award winning wine! We came across Inland Desert Nursery who starts the growing process and can get you the grapevines you need. Check out their website and get to know them better! And don’t forget all the vineyard and landscape equipment you will need like tractors, leaf treatment, spraying equipment, mulchers, and more. Check out Clemens Vineyard Equipment and you will find all these and keep your vineyard looking pristine!
Once your vines start to grow, you will need posts and wire to hold the vines so they can reach up to absorb that much needed sunshine. These wires do break sometimes and that is when you will need repair splices and connectors to fix the problem. We found some excellent ones from Preformed Line Products who would be happy to get your their best line repair kits and show you how to use them.
So while your grapevines are growing and maturing, you need to think about what to do after you harvest your luscious grapes! You will need grape separation equipment, destemming and sorting tables, stainless steel tanks, pumps, filtering equipment, and everything that goes with it. We met Dominic Bosch from Malbec Supplies who enlightened us on his harvest and cellaring products and how he can get your winery started. Dominic can even get you set up with Bulk Wine so you can make and produce wine while your vineyard is growing and maturing which usually takes 3 years before your grapes will be ready to be used as wine. Dominic also has vast experience in correcting wine faults by using Reverse Osmosis, Ion Exchange, and ultrafiltration to make any problem wines taste much better!
Oak barrels and casks? It’s hard to imagine owning a winery and not having oak barrels to age some of your best wines in to add character and elegance to your wines. We spoke with The Vintner Vault and they can definitely help with your oak barrel needs for your winery, brewery, or distillery. They offer lots of great products so check them out!
After your wine has matured and developed in stainless steel or oak, you need to bottle your wines and get them ready to sell. We talked with Waterloo Container who can do just that and find you the right bottles, corks, and closures to get your wines ready for the shelf and into your customers hands. They have been family owned and operated for over 40 years.
If you are looking for just corks, we spoke to Nora Burkel who works for Portocork and she explained everything you could possibly need to know about their corks. Which corks work best for which wines. Which cork or closures work for wines you will age and for the wines that will be drank within a year or two. I didn’t think corks would be that fascinating to talk about but Nora gave us the knowledge we needed and for anyone going into the winery industry.
Now your wines are ready, your tasting room is immaculate and you soon will be displaying the OPEN sign on your door. You want to impress your loyal customers with some great glassware to pour your wines into. We met Matej from RONA Glassworks and he explained how each variety of wine should be enjoyed in different styles of wine glasses. Rona glasses are used in many tasting rooms and restaurants around the world and you will find all you need in wine glassware here.
There are many companies who work in the Bulk Wine industry and some wineries use these grapes for many reasons. If the vineyard had a bad growing year, the winery can use bulk wine to make good wines to sell, even if it is not their own grapes. Or a small winery has a phenomenal year and needs to buy some outside bulk wine so they can continue to have wine to sell. Or your vineyard is in a climate that doesn’t grow some types of grapes very well. You can buy bulk wine of that variety and sell something fun and flavorful that your customers are requesting. We met Michael from Agajanian Vineyards and Wine Company and Carl from Collinwood Grape Company who primarily deal with bulk wine and juices to help out wineries and the wine tasting room businesses. If you have any questions about bulk wine or grape juice, these are 2 other great companies you can work with.
Another great product which I have used before is a type of luggage that fits your wine bottles so you can travel with your wine to a vacation destination or bring your priceless bottles home after a memorable wine trip. The company is called Fly With Wine and there are several different types of wine travel luggage that holds different amounts of wine. A good way to bring your wine home without any worries.
These are just a few of the wine companies we met and spoke with! There were almost 250 vendors and exhibitors at the Eastern Winery Exposition and it was impossible to meet everybody. But these were some of the companies we ran into and thought if I was opening a winery, I would contact them for their services. Check out the Eastern Winery Exposition website and you can see the many exhibitors who participated in 2020.
The evening before the exposition opened, there was a wine tasting with a focus on wines from east of the Mississippi River. We were able to taste some wonderful wines and meet some of the people who keep these wineries going. At the exposition, there were a few more wineries from around the country who were doing fun and informative tastings. This is a “Shout Out” to the wineries, staff, and winemakers who excited our palates with their great wines! Thank you to:
Jessie’s Grove Winery in Lodi, California – Winemaker Greg Burns Left Foot Charley Winery in TC, Michigan – Manager Meridith Lauzon Four Feathers Wine Estates in Washington St – Anthony Neal in Marketing Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, New York – Winemaker Chris Stamp Crazy Cat Winery in Bristol, New Hampshire – Tim and Claudette Smith
Currently, next years Eastern Winery Exposition is scheduled to be in Syracuse, New York from March 16-18, 2021. The professionals who host this wonderful event is Bob Mignarri (Show Manager), Marcia Gulino (Operations Director), and author Richard Leahy (Conference Program Director). All 3 of these experts can be contacted through the Eastern Winery Exposition website or Quality Event Management in Rhode Island. This was such a fun, exciting, and informative exposition and it has everything that any winery, vineyard, and tasting room would ever need for their business. Please be safe, stay healthy, and we will see you next year in Syracuse, NY!