I know, many of us went into winemaking with a very naive and romantic view of what it was going to be. I will try to list some basic important topics for those who are thinking about starting to make wine so they are aware of what they’re getting into. This list can also help to give some perspective to those who are already a wine producer but may be looking to go to the next level or simply make improvements.
- Start from the end
- Accept mistakes
- Winemaking skills and plans
- Be unique or compete for price
- Are you planning to make profit? Maybe not in your lifetime
Start from the end
It’s impossible to plan everything on a piece of paper with evolving circumstances and shifting targets. However, it’s feasible to plan to be flexible so start by asking yourself some key questions about market, wine-making, winery set up and also some more personal ones such as, which lifestyle do I want?
Starting from the end, helps to visualise where you want to go and how to achieve a realistic plan according to your specific profile. Making wine is a lifetime project and if you don’t love it, sooner or later, you’ll give up. Loving it can also be a journey, which starts from somewhere else becoming stronger overtime or vanish. I’ve never met a professional wine producer or winemaker who doesn’t dedicate his/her entire life to it. So, let’s forget working eight hours a day and having regular days off or planning to buy a sports car instead of a better tractor.
Do it early to save money or you’ll never properly do it!
The continuous challenge that many winemakers have to face, is the lack of space. This leads to lots of wasted time and money along with uncomfortable working hours moving things around over and over again. Simple operations might turn into big manoeuvres simply for setting up, cleaning and tiding up.
Think about: Space to store wine and equipment in the right conditions reducing double or triple handling, suitable space and ground to safely and efficiently operate a forklift, doors and roof of the proper size and height correct spacing between tanks to allow an easy cleaning and maintenance.
This is the tip of the iceberg for an efficient winery set up. Efficiency, easily becomes a financial and sustainable benefit for the environment, aesthetics, quality, workers happiness, health and safety.
Mistakes are part of our life and asking the right questions or seeking advice helps to drastically reduce them.
Mistakes comes with a cost and the most pricey are the beginner mistakes. They usually happen on fundamental decisions that can drive to consistent capital losses, inefficiency or frustrations of seeing things not going as planned.
Miscalculations can and will occur, we can only do our best to capitalise and minimise them by learning from our own and other peoples experience.
Winemaking skills and plans
Grapes in a specific terroir, dictate what we can make with them, not the other way around, we are just the humble judges of it.
Simple as this might sound, it takes dedication, success, failures and a lifetime of refinement with continuous adjustments in a changing environment.
A winery is like an organism where the different aspects play an important role and everything needs to be synced to work properly.
Producing wine professionally, making independent decisions, takes more than reading a couple of books, studying three years or working five harvests: this is just a good start.
Making wine professionally means being a constantly hungry student seeking for continuous improvements.
Be unique or compete for price
Making wine is probably one of the best professions in the world, and in our small industry can be even more rewarding.
Although, there are many good wines around, if we don’t want to compete just for price and fill the market with copies of the “same wine”, we need to be able to express, drive and influence our unique style, terroir and philosophy. Price is crucial and it strictly relates to the efficiency of managing all operations.
Are you planning to make profit? Maybe not in your lifetime
Depending on what your aspirations are, making wines requires big investment, serious hard work and realistically no profit in most cases for many years. I can’t be loud enough when I say doing your homework and planning ahead, validates the theory more than once. Speak with a whole team of professionals before starting. I’m not a financial planner and a financial planner, is not a winemaker… In order to be able to put things in perspective a multidisciplinary team is very useful to draft the big picture before going into technical details.