Starting a Winery or Vineyard



Vinewise is an online, interactive guide of business and viticulture topics created by and for Washington state wine grape growers and vintners to determine and assess viticulture management practices against industry standards of sustainability.  Designed to be useful for both new and current industry members, the Vinewise Guide includes Checklists, Self-Evaluation Forms and Action Plans covering 16 specific sustainable viticulture and business topics including: 

  • Business Plans
  • Human Resources
  • Vineyard Establishment
  • Soil & Site Properties
  • Pest Management
  • Contracts
  • Soil Surface Mgmt
  • Water Management
  • Lending
  • Soil Management
  • Crop Insurance
  • Vineyard Site Selection
  • Community Neighbors
  • Viticulture
  • Whole Farm Ecosystems
  • Marketing Plans


Winerywise, the Washington guide to sustainable winemaking practices, is an online, interactive guide of business and winery management topics created by and for Washington State Wineries to determine and assess their current winery management practices against industry standards of sustainability. Winerywise has 9 topics including:  

  • Energy Efficiency                                                       
  • Water Management                                        
  • Education & Research                           
  • Waste Management                               
  • Staffing, Safety & HR                              
  • Material Handling                                    
  • Community Outreach                               
  • Site Development                                   
  • Preferred Purchasing             


Basic information relating to winery and vineyard economics is available from Washington State University’s School of Economic Sciences.  These publications are helpful in determining the categories of expenses to anticipate.  The actual dollar amounts for these expenditures will likely have increased considerably.  Contact WSU at (509) 335-5555. 


The United States Department of Agriculture National Ag Stats Service provides annual crop estimates and harvest figures as well as average pricing statistics for grapes at the state and national level. In addition, at the industry request, NASS completed both a comprehensive survey on grape acreage and on wine storage.  Copies of the studies are available by contacting (360) 902-1940 or going to their website.  Also available on the WAWGG website. 



Some publications that our growers believe are essential to a new grower include:

1. General Viticulture by Winkler, Grape Pest Management by the University of California

2. Growing Grapes in Eastern Washington by WSU (also translated into Spanish—see WAWGG). 

In addition, you might want to subscribe to or get back issues of The Good Fruit Grower, Wine Business Monthly, Practical Winery and Vineyard, Wines & Vines, American Vineyard, and Vineyard and Winery Management.  WSU Extension Bulletins are available for download or click here to purchase or the WSU Viticulture Extension webpage.  



It is also helpful to speak with established vineyards or wineries of a size similar to the vineyard or winery you plan to operate.  Their “real life” experience can often give a more accurate picture of the industry and the challenges you face than statistics. To find a winery or grower, search the Wine Commission’s website at or better yet, attend industry events to meet them in person.  In particular, the annual meeting of WAWGG draws a who's who of the industry.  





The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is the federal agency that regulates the U.S. wine industry (a branch of the Department of Treasury).  Upon request, the T.T.B. will provide you with a qualification packet.  This includes applications for operating winery premises, for a basic permit and for a wine bond, along with several other forms requesting information on your personal background and other aspects of your proposed business.  The T.T.B. has a local office in Vancouver and to receive a packet with all the necessary information call (360) 696-7900 or the National Revenue Center at (877) 882-3277.  


State of Washington - Ph 360-664-1600

The State of Washington also has certain requirements for wineries.  The agency that regulates the industry is the Washington State Liquor Control Board Division of Manufacturers, Importers & Wholesalers.  


In addition, the State Department of Health and some local agencies handle zoning issues will also be involved in the development of a winery.  A business license is also required from the Washington State Dept. of Licensing.  Call (360) 664-1400 or



Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers

The Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers advocates for the Washington wine growing industry by educating, promoting, representing, and unifying.  We enccourage a positive business environment for continued growth and production of world-class, Washington-grown wines and are advocates for the business interests of Washington wine growers/producers whether they are new or seasoned growers.  Our members are wine grape growers and wineries in Washington state.  Our allied members are those who provide products or services to the industry.


Washington Wine Institute - Ph 360-352-1557
The Washington Wine Institute is the lobbying organization that represents wine producers and associates on Washington State legislative and regulatory issues impacting the industry. 



Washington Wine Commission - Ph 206-667-9463

The vintners and wine grape growers of Washington State went to the legislature in 1987 requesting the ability to equally tax all wine grape growers and wineries to create a statewide organization dedicated to the marketing, advertising and promotion of Washington state wines.  The Commission’s vision statement reads:  "To establish Washington State as the world’s premier wine producing and wine grape growing region".  The structure of the Commission governing board includes five winery seats from small to large, five grower seats from small to large, one retailer, one fruit wine producer and the Department of Agriculture.  As a quasi-state agency, the Commission meets in open public meetings monthly which alternate between Eastern and Western Washington.  




Consultants that may also be helpful in locating or developing vineyard sources are listed below but any new grower or those just starting should first contact a WSU-Cooperative Extension specialist for wine grapes (see contact info on WSU list below) as well as visit the Checklists at



Alan Busacca, Ph.D.

Vinitas Vineyard Consultants, LLC-LM

(509) 592-0756 -


James McFerran

Vine & Wine Consulting, LLC

(509) 554-0242 -


Joan Johnson
Fieldma’am Consulting

(509) 882-3001 -


Jerry Bookwalter
Thorsen Bookwalter & Associates

509-531-8765 -




WSU Research and Extention  

Washington State University is the principal institution conducting viticultural and enological research and providing extension services.