VINCYCLOPEDIA

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WINERY is a facility that produces wine. Although the word may evoke images of historic buildings surrounded by vineyards in a rural and romantic landscape, most wineries can claim none of these picturesque assets. The word winery on a label is legally part of the brand but should not imply anything other than wine producer.

Wine may be made in either owned or rented premises. Wine may be produced by the brand owner or by a business under contract to the brand owner specifically for wine production. A winery may even strictly operate under contracts not even produce wine under its own brand. Many different configurations and scenarios are possible under the moniker of winery. Sub-categories have been created to identify this differentiation.

Artisinal Winery
Also commonly referred to as Boutique, there is no legal definition. The general impression is that a winery of this description is operated by passionate perfectionists that specialize in a very few types possibly inspired by the wines of one historic region (Bordeaux, or Burgundy, or The Rhône, or Tuscany, or Piedmont, as the most common examples) and that furthermore limit their annual output to several hundred or a very few thousand cases.

Cult Winery
A wine brand for which demand typically exceeds supply. These wines are often primarily sold on a limited allocation basis direct-to-consumers who have signed up and for which privilege there is often a waiting list. Most of these cult producers are from California. Although many have earned their status by consistently producing excellent quality and restricting growth in order to preserve it, starting in the mid-1990s, some brands were originated to purposely enter the consumer market with this status by the combined marketing strategies of hiring a high-profile winemaker, restricting sales (but not necessarily production), and setting high retail bottle cost.

Farm Winery
This category is legally defined by many state legislatures and allows wines to be produced and sold on the same site. The actual production may be on or off-site, depending upon the state's definition. Farm wineries typically turn out far fewer cases than commercial wineries of broad distribution.

To encourage domestic production and promote agritourism, states often simplify applications and require lower fees for qualified farm wineries. The first Farm Winery legislation in the U.S. dates back to the early 1930s, as American Prohibition was ending.

States with some form of Farm Winery legislation include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. New York probably has the most progressive Farm Winery statutes, which includes a consolidated license for a micro-winery and branch or satellite tasting rooms, simplified reporting requirements for both direct shipping and participation in charitable events, and provision for custom crushing. Although they make no specific reference to "farm winery", Oklahoma has modernized their domestic winery laws, primarily regarding sales and distribution.

Micro Winery
Increasingly popular in urban areas and similar to the micro-brewery concept. Production is on-site, but volume and equipment are greatly scaled-down, using purchased grapes or must. Depending upon their sources, micro-wineries can offer a wide variety of wine types and even permit customers to produce their own custom batches if laws allow.


Page created September 28, 2014; updated February 14, 2016
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