Do I need a license to make wine?
Not if it is for personal or family use. Under California law, you are allowed to make up to 200 gallons of wine per year per household for personal or family use without a license. The wine cannot be sold or offered for sale, but it can be taken from the home for family use.
However, if you want to sell your wine, you will need a Type 02 Winegrower license issued by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
How do I get a license?
Before you apply you must determine ownership structure of your business (corporation, LLC, sole proprietor); determine the location of your business (home, commercial building, etc.); and check local zoning to be sure you be allowed to make wine from this location. You must also apply have applied for a federal TTB bonded winery permit before ABC will issue you a license.
Once you have accomplished the above, there are forms to fill out and submit to ABC. They can be found at www.abc.ca.gov. Yes – there are a lot of forms, depending on kind of license and ownership structure of your business. There will be forms for zoning, notifications, diagrams of business premises, etc. etc.
You must place a public notice at your applied for premises for 30 days (ABC will give you the poster). The location may not be near schools, churches, parks or other residences. The use as a winery must be permitted by local zoning. There will be input from local law enforcement. An individual personal affidavit with fingerprints must be submitted by all persons with an ownership interest.
If there are no protests and everything goes smoothly, ABC normally will issue your license within 45 – 90 days of you submitting a completed application package. Common problems include protests, diagrams and licensed area issues, criminal history and not being responsive to the ABC licensing representative assigned to your case.
I got my license, now what can I do with it?
As a Type 02 Winegrower licensee you may produce wine and brandy on site by fermentation. You do not need to grow your own grapes. You are not required to own bottling equipment. You may crush fruit or purchase unfermented grape juice and produce wine through fermentation or buy bulk wine.
You can provide tastings and offer glasses of own brands, at a fee or free, at your licensed production facility and your licensed duplicate (you get one). You may also offer tastings at unlicensed private locations, at events sponsored by non-profits and at meet the winemaker dinners. You may allow a consumer to remove a partially consumed bottle of wine.
You may produce brandy but may not offer tastings of brandy.
You may sell own brands of wine and brandy to wholesalers/retailers, and to consumers for consumption off site. You may also sell bulk wine to other winegrowers, blenders and wholesalers. You may sell your wine at and from your production facility, your duplicate, certified farmers markets (by permit) and wine sales events (by permit).
You can operate a “bona fide” eating place (as defined by Bus. & Prof. Code) on or next to the licensed premises. You may serve beer and any wine when purchased from a licensed wholesaler.
Ready to get started? Contact an attorney for assistance.
This post is published for general informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.