Napa Valley Winery facts
8 Reasons Why Running a Napa Valley Winery is Nothing Like You Picture It
When you take a Napa wine country tour, it’s easy to leave with the impression that life there is nothing but endless sampling of “the good stuff,” forever puttering around in the most beautiful landscape on the planet, and dining every night on the best food this side of Paris. While there absolutely is an air of glamour and elegance to life in Napa Valley, being a vineyard owner and winemaker isn’t always that. Not by a long shot. Here are a few reasons why you might want to keep your day job and splurge only occasionally on a grand tour of the hardworking, expensive, sometimes frustrating wine country.
1. Buying a Vineyard & Winery is Amazingly Expensive
If all you want is land, it starts at around $300,000 per acre in Napa Valley. Assuming you can get your vineyard planted the first year, it will still be around three more years until any grape vines you plant begin producing fruit. This route requires that you build everything from the ground up — planting the vineyard, building the winery, and developing your own brand of wine from scratch. While less expensive, it is also the route that takes the longest. The alternative is buying an established vineyard and winery, which is considerably more expensive, and it’s possible you’ll just be buying someone else’s problems (after all, there’s a reason the kit and kaboodle someone else worked so hard to build is now for sale.)
2. Operating a Vineyard & Winery is also Incredibly Expensive
Buying your vineyard and winery is just the first expense. Afterward, you will undergo a mind-boggling series of expenses from labor costs to buying bottles and labels to investing in and maintaining farm equipment. You’ll need a fully-equipped farm, a fully-stocked winery, a store front, storage facilities, insurance, business and other licenses, and you’ll need to be able to prove you’re abiding by all of the environmental regulations, labor laws, and other business requirements on the local, state, and federal levels. In California, that’s no easy task.
3. Early to Bed & Early to Rise
If you’re coming from a city lifestyle of dancing and dining until midnight or later, your new farming lifestyle is going to jolt you. Napa Valley isn’t really a bunch of wine snobs. Instead, they’re hardworking farmers, up with the chickens and to bed with the toddlers. After hours in the hot sun, checking fence lines, addressing pests on vines, negotiating prices with restaurants, and wondering if the drought will ever end — you won’t have much energy left for late night television or going to the movies.
4. Growing & Making Wine is Literally All You Do
Speaking of which, if you enjoy sneaking away on the weekends for a quick trip to the beach or some deer or duck hunting, no can do. Vineyards and wineries are all-consuming, leaving little time for extracurricular hobbies. Woodworking? Sewing? Camping? Trip to the mountains? Not unless you still have a little energy left after harvest and winemaking season (you won’t). By then, it’s time to celebrate the holidays, blink twice, and begin planning for the growing season ahead. Trucks need oil changes, you need to place orders for necessary supplies, and it’s time to clean out the barns. All work and no play makes for sensational wine, not to mention wine sales.
5. The Government is All Over the Alcohol Production Business
We touched on the financial aspect of licensing and permits, but you really won’t believe how intrusive the government can be until you try to make alcohol for sale. The folks at Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have their eyes on you, while the environmental regulators peek over your shoulders, and the tax man keeps careful tabs on your pocketbook. There are also strict regulations when it comes to hiring and employing the hands needed to run your vineyard and winery. Adding a restaurant (which many Napa Valley wineries do) adds a whole other layer of regulations to the mix. When selling your wine outside California (either online or via phone), each state has their own permits and breathtakingly long list of requirements.
6. You Must Become the Jack & Jill of All Trades
Owning a vineyard and winery means you have to become something of a legal whiz, plus a savvy business person, tax professional, farmer, employer, environmental scientist, oenologist, winemaker, marketing professional, finance specialist, and probably a restaurateur, as well. You’ll also need to become a customer service professional. Whether you’re’ dealing with individuals coming for a Napa Valley wine tour or working with large chain restaurant managers ordering thousands of dollars’ worth of your wines, you need to possess the art of balancing a friendly disposition with a wise, no-nonsense business personality.
7. Turning a Profit Doesn’t Happen for Awhile
After spending millions to acquire a vineyard and winery, you’d expect to see a profit soon. Um, sorry. It can take years to see a profit from your expenditures, especially if you borrowed or accepted money from investors during the startup process. It takes awhile to find buyers for your wares, wither you’re selling just the grapes or the finished wines. It also takes time to establish a reputation with the Napa wine tour vendors, such as the limousine services, to get on their list of regular stops. How long it takes depends on numerous factors, from the quality of your first grape crop, to your business model for selling your grapes or wines, to your savvy at marketing your brand of wine to buyers.
8. Income is Inconsistent (When You Have One)
Some years the rains come like they’re supposed to. Other times, not so much. Bugs and sunshine, temperature and winds, and any number of other factors outside your control can heavily affect your grape harvest and the quality of your wines. While a great winemaker is used to turning good grapes into spectacular wines, there isn’t a lot that can be done with a grape harvest that’s damaged or destroyed due to pests or the weather. Some years may produce a bountiful crop and that lovely cha-ching of the cash register. Other years you may have to break open your piggy bank just to pay the hired help.
While owning and operating vineyards and wineries isn’t for everyone, a Napa wine tour sure is. Jump in one of our limousines and let us treat you to the finer side of wine country, where you can sip wine, dine at the finest restaurants, and stare unabashedly at the glorious scenery — all to your heart’s content. You can leave the hard work to some other stooge, we mean, brilliant winemaker. Book your Napa Valley wine tour in an Allure limousine today!