Brewery & Winery? I can be both?

This post is a 30,000 foot view of the process of becoming a brewery and winery in Wisconsin simultaneously. Yes, you read that right, a brewery can also be a winery or vice versa. As small producers seek to differentiate themselves and expand their market presence, clients seeking to become both a brewery and a winery continues to be an area of interest and growth. Read on for more information.

The Steps at the Federal Level

In order to be a brewery and a winery, the applicant company must hold a TTB Brewers Notice (for the brewery operations) and a TTB Basic Permit (for the winery operations). In addition to completing both commodity permit applications, the applicant must also submit variance requests to the TTB to allow the brewery (in this example) to be used for purposes other than a brewery (a winery, in this example), and to streamline the recordkeeping and alternation process.

Remember, from the TTB’s perspective, both operations are separate, so the premises must alternate between winery and brewery operations (even if the alternation is a notation in a notebook only).

In general, the TTB process is tedious but straightforward – the more detail oriented you can be from the outset, and the prettier a plant diagram that you have, the easier it will be. The key to remember for the TTB is that wine in production must be kept separate from beer in production and vice versa (scissor gate anyone?). Additionally, in bond storage must also be separated (or tagged appropriately).

The Steps at the WI Stat Level

As with the Fed’s, the State of Wisconsin requires the aspiring brewery and winery operator to submit two permit application, one for the brewery (A Fermented Malt Beverage Permit) and one for the winery (An Alcohol\Winery Permit). Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.

  1. You need two commodity bonds with the State of Wisconsin. While many small operators don’t need a TTB Excise Tax Bond, everyone needs a bond with the DOR. Because the DOR treats bonds for each commodity separately, you need two bonds – one for the beer; one for the wine.
  2. If you want to serve wine in your tasting room, the operator will be subject to municipal licensing requirements. Remember, a winery needs a municipal Class B (Wine Only) to serve – even if the DOR approves the winery permit, no wine can be served until the municipality where the winery is located provides the Class B (Class B wine only is not subject to quota – and there is no reserve fee of $10,000)
  3. Winery is subject to open\closing hours – while a brewery is not. While I’ve never run into a brewery open 23.9 hours a day, there are no statute set opening\closing hours. That’s not the case for a winery. Winery\Brewery operators needs to decide – do I close early? Or, do I stop serving wine around 9p?
  4. Individual bartenders or the manager must have a Bartenders license. While the DOR requires the ServeSafe certificate for brewery operators, bartending licenses are not required. Wineries however, must have licensed bartenders (at least one) on the premises while wine is being served.

There of course, is more to know on this – but this is a quick smattering of some high level items to keep in mind if you are thinking about being both a brewery and a winery. Thanks for reading.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. Posts and other information may not be updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. None of the articles or posts on this website are intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.