We began the process of transitioning from a vineyard to winery in the fall of 2013. The process has been difficult but in September of 2014 we received our Federal and state winery and brewery licenses. What was the process? I will give you an overview of what the last year has been like.
The first thing we did was to hire an engineer to work up site plans for our proposed building and work on getting the proper permits from the town. We then hired an architect to do the building drawings. While this was in progress we began the process of becoming incorporated. We decided to establish two incorporations, one is an LLC and the other is an s-corp. We also hired a person to write up a business plan for our winery and brewery.
In the winter of 2014 we ran into a problem with zoning. Our property and vineyard was zoned residential, an over site on our part. Being zoned residential would not allow us to sell our products off our property. This was a huge problem. We applied to be included into a agricultural district in April 2014. Being in an Ag-district would allow us the full protection of the New York State right to farm laws and we would be able to sell our products, have events and function as a farm winery and brewery. The problem is that we would not find out until August if we would be approved for the Agricultural District. We had a decision to make, do we risk going forward with our building not knowing if we would be approved? We made the decision to move forward with our plans rather than delay for an additional year. Sometimes you have to take a risk to move forward.
During the spring and summer of 2014 we worked on gathering the documentation necessary for our federal and state winery licenses. Our goal was to at least get our temporary state license by fall in order to put our juices in our own tanks for fermentation. We applied for our federal license in July 2014