How to Start:


*the Internet hosts a plethora of valuable resources on starting a winery. Specifically, Cornell University has a detailed mock business plan guide that can be found here.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Science produced a basic outline of the pertinent steps to take if/when you want to open a commercial winery. Click here to read it.

*Please note that while federal law does apply, this article is mostly geared to wineries in NC.

In addition to the technical aspects of starting a winery, you should also consider contracts, trademarks, wine label approval, farm, distribution, health department, and employer issues/law.

You want to make sure that you property is zoned correctly by your county or your city. A vineyard and winery operation should be considered agriculture in most counties.

Register your business with the NC Secretary of State’s Office.

Submit federal application at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)

Some TTB forms to consider:

  • Bonded winery license
  • Facility inspection
  • Label approval

Obtain licenses from:

  1. City Wine License from your local city hall, if within city limits
  2. County Wine License from your County Courthouse Tax Collector Division
  3. State Wine Tax License from N.C. Department of Revenue

Contact the N.C. ABC for how to obtain a winery. Some ABC forms worth mentioning:

  1. Unfortified Wine Retail Permit form
  2. Unfortified Wine Commercial Permit form
  3. Winery Special Event Permit
  4. Label approval applications and Distribution Agreement form

Contact the N.C. Department of Revenue for information on submitting monthly shipment reports

Familiarize yourself with the Winery Waste Disposal Permits for winery wastewater management

Note: In NC you can produce tax-exempt, unfortified wine for personal or family use of up to 200 gallons of wine per year per two-adult household or up to 100 gallons per one-adult household without being a commercial winery. But, you CANNOT sell wine for personal or family use.

See legal issues & direct shipping for resources about legal and shipping regulations

Register for UPC barcodes for selling wine in retail stores

Now, let’s make wine!

*The information for this blog can be found here.

For more information regarding trademarks or really anything law/beer related, call us at: 919-335-5291 or email

* The photo is taken from Silver Fork Winery in Morganton, NC


1 Comment

  1. Just googled winery wastewater NC and found this post. Cool that you have a winery/brewery niche. Wastewater treatment and dispersal is a big blind spot for most folks and especially for high strength sources of wastewater like wineries, restaurants, breweries etc. If you ever have a client who needs to figure out the wastewater permitting side of the business give us a shout! Best wishes!

Comments are closed.