Wine bars have become trendy spots to hang out, sip and dine, largely due to the surging interest in all that has to do with wine, and the fact that U.S.-based wineries--including those found throughout California's Central Coast, Oregon's Willamette Valley and Washington's Columbia Valley--are giving French productions a run for their money. This type of business can not only be enjoyable to run, but very profitable. No matter if you're in a large metropolitan area or a small city, you can open a successful wine bar with thorough planning and dedication.
Learn as much as you possibly can about wines, including varietals, how they are made, the best way to store and serve them, glassware, food pairings and how to taste them. Attend a local or online wine school, read books about wine or subscribe to a publication such as “Wine Spectator." The more knowledgeable you are about wine, the more you will be able to educate and entertain your customers.
Choose a niche for your wine bar. For instance, you can choose to feature wines from other countries, open a casual wine bar, one with a focus on wine education or a wine bar that also hosts events and gatherings.
Pick a location for your wine bar. Shopping centers and locations near entertainment such as art galleries, theaters, billiards halls and comedy and dance clubs would make ideal spots.
Obtain the permits you will need to run a wine bar. Typically, this means getting a liquor or alcohol license, food enterprise permit, tax identification number from your state, resale permit, assumed name certificate (DBA) or employer identification number. Any servers that work in your wine bar may also need alcohol server's training, if required by your state.
Develop a menu for your wine bar--you don't want your patrons to only consume wine, because they will become inebriated more quickly. If you do not want to sell full meals, consider offering appetizers, cheese and crackers or tapas.
Purchase the wines you plan to serve from a wine distributor--you will not be able to buy without having a valid liquor license. Also purchase furniture, racks or storage for the wine bottles, serving ware, glassware, signage and décor for your wine bar.
Promote your wine bar by listing it in print and online business directories, handing out fliers or coupons to complementary businesses such as art galleries and museums, planning events such as live music nights, poetry readings and wine classes, and launching an informational website or blog.