Introduction: Bodegas Garaje. 

Among wine lovers there is a fairly typical conversation around uncorking and tasting a good bottle of wine. Curiously, the conversation is gaining emphasis as the level of the tasted bottle decreases.

Admittedly, the ideal of the wine lover, the moment he begins to know a little more about viticulture and oenology, is to “make his own wine . ”

About thirty years ago, when I was enjoying my training with a grant from the Erasmus program, which allowed me to visit most of the wine-producing areas of the Gallic country, where, I already highlighted a business model that did not exist in Spain , the small wineries of less than 3 Ha.

Many of them taking advantage of the location next to a road, where they passionately exhibited their wines (of mediocre quality), and I remember, that at that time the question that was on my mind was

“Are these wineries profitable enough to generate profits on the farm and allow the owner and his family to maintain the standard of living of a French middle class?”

At that time, in our country, this type of exploitation did not exist, on the contrary, the wineries, many of them cooperative wineries, were immensely large.

As the years passed, and we got on the bandwagon of the super-economy of brick, there were many builders who, let’s say “on a whim”, decided to set up their own private winery, and I assure you that they were not 100-square-meter garage cellars. Some remain, others have changed ownership and others, evidently, closed.

With the 2008 crisis, the number of small producers increased considerably . This has also been facilitated, because the industry has had to reinvent itself and has found a new market niche in the small producer, so today, we have at our disposal, destemmers, stainless steel tanks, pumps, and all the necessary material for winemaking, but on a small scale.

Once decided to venture into this project, one of the questions that arise is:

What is the minimum number of bottles that must be produced to achieve a small profitable winery?

Experts in wine economics mark a range between 3,000-10,000 bottles. The range is very wide, yes, but it is what they say.

In the profitability of wine production, the economy of scale has a lot to say, so it is important to know that the greater the number of bottles produced, the lower the unit production cost per bottle.

Having said all this, I am enclosing a summary of questions that my clients ask me continuously, all related to garage winemaking.

How many kilos of grapes do I need to make a liter of wine?

It depends on the type of wine we want to make, since in the industry there are presses capable of squeezing every last milliliter of must, but since in the elaboration of garage wine, what prevails is quality, and excessive pressing goes against of quality, let’s say that if we only take advantage of the flower must, then we are going to go to 50%, that is, for a liter of wine I need two kilos of grapes.

How many kilograms does a vine of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bobal… produce?

To answer this question I have to summarize the basic principles of viticulture in three sentences, which is a bit absurd, but the amateur winegrower asks these questions.

The answer is “It depends”, and it is true, it depends on a lot of factors, namely: variety, rootstocks, planting density, soil fertility, climate or production area, and all the factors of viticulture itself, such as they are basically: nutrition of the vineyard, availability of water and irrigation and types of pruning.

But…, the amateur winemaker insists:

– I need some information to complete my investment analysis tables, viability plan … How many kilos does a strain produce?

The man needs a number and I am unable to give it to him …, mmmmh “between 4 and 10!”

– Ah! Okay, I’ll put 6kg.

– Better 5, so we do not step on our fingers, and if it produces more …, welcome are the extra Kg.

What would be the material needed to make 5,000 bottles of wine, 3,750 liters?

At this time I have already made a small and modest table, where I describe the minimum necessary and the approximate and indicative market price, although like everything, prices change.

Tanks: the volume of the tanks to produce about 4000 liters has to be at least 6,000 liters, the ideal being almost double, that is, 8,000 L.

-2 tanks of 1,000L: € 3,800

-2 deposits of 2,000L: € 4,500

-1 tank always full of 1,000L: 1,500 €

-1 destemmer crusher: from € 600 to € 3,000

-1 wine pump: €500

-Hoses: € 200

-1 press: between € 300-700

With these minimums we can make wine in bulk. For bottling we will need: a filler, a capper and if we want to dress the bottle, a labeller and a capper. The filler and capper are necessary: ​​€ 1,000. The labeler and encapsulator can be manual, at least initially.

All this if we are satisfied with a young wine, but if we want to age, we need barrels and barrels are expensive .

225L of wine can fit in a barrel and the barrels are renewed every 2-3 years. A barrel is worth between € 600-800 depending on the oak and other factors. There are barrel companies that sell them to you in “renting” which can be a very acceptable option for the beginning.

To all this, we must add an item for the laboratory , since we must produce a quality product: laboratory equipment: € 3,000.

And with all this, we have a bottle of quality wine, made and bottled, that we are going to enjoy with our friends and family, since we have no company, no brand, no name, no marketing plan, or anything that introduces us to the market.

How to start selling wine? The marketing plan.

If what we want is to sell the wine, we must not forget to carry out a good marketing plan, with what this implies, namely:

  1. Corporate design (name, labels, packaging, logos).
  2. Promotion of the winery’s brand, brand branding.
  3. Definition of the sales channels, which for a small winery an online store may be interesting.

Conclusions, how much does it cost to set up a winery?

Fitting all these pieces is not easy. It requires not only initial capital but also perseverance and perseverance, and a lot of patience. But it can be viable and profitable.

We can set up a winery to produce quality crianza wines, with a capacity of 5000 bottles a year for € 17,800. 5000 bottles at € 10 net per bottle… can do the profitability calculation yourself.

Below I attach a link to an article on this blog related to the subject:

How much does it cost to plant a Ha of vineyard?

Of course, everything related to the legal framework is missing: sanitary registries, agricultural industries, bottling registry and don’t forget the Tax Agency… which deserves another complete article.

Dr. Sofia Seccombe

My name is Dr. Sofia Seccombe, and in this small section, I want to tell you who I am and why I started this project. I don't want to bore you, but I consider that it is an important part of godlywine. It serves as an exercise in transparency so that the person who reads the articles can be sure that the information is reliable.

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