How to Start A Retail Wine Business

by Emily Beach; Updated September 26, 2017
Wine Bottle and Glass

Many people dream of turning their passions and hobbies into a business, allowing them to do what they love while making a living. For wine lovers, a retail wine store can be a great way to share a knowledge of good wines with others, and to make money to pay the bills. Just like any type of new business, starting a wine store can be challenging, but for those willing to put in the effort, it can provide endless rewards, both financial and personal.

Items you will need

  • Liquor license
  • Store (Buy or lease)
  • Furnishings and wine racks
Step 1

Research the liquor license process in your state. Before you can sell your first bottle of wine, you'll need to obtain a liquor license, and every state has different requirements. This can often be a lengthy process, requiring public notices to be posted and hearings to be held. Expect to pay between several hundred and several thousand dollars if your license is approved. A list of State Liquor Boards can be found in the Resources section of this article.

Step 2

Find a location. Look for a building that will accommodate the amount of wine you plan to sell, as well as any special events you'd like to hold in your store. Check the zoning of the building before signing a lease to ensure a wine business can be operated in the area. Pay attention to foot traffic and parking availability, and make sure to choose an area with low competition and high demand for the types of wines you'd like to sell. Generally, you'll need to secure a store location before you apply for your liquor license. To protect yourself in the case your license is not approved, look for a lease offer that will allow you to cancel if the license is denied.

Step 3

Purchase stock. You may want to sell local wines, or varieties from across the world. Visit wineries and vineyards to select brands you think will sell. Pay attention to price levels and types of wines, ensuring you select bottles that will work well with your customer base.

Step 4

Hire employees. Look for people who can work well with your customer base. If you plan to sell expensive wines, you'll need knowledgeable employees who can discuss the finer qualities of different types. Take the time now to train your employees on service, products, and the systems you'd like to use to organize your business.

Step 5

Set up your store and open for business. Choose the furnishings, wine racks, and designs that meet your budget. You can always upgrade later after sales pick up. Wine stores lend themselves well to easy and fun marketing events. Host tasting parties, or wine classes. Make these events free to draw in the crowds, and you'll soon have a large enough customer base to support your store.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Wiki Commons