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Redleg
01-05-2004, 06:55 AM
Well, I just got the results form the amateur winemaker competition hosted by Winemaker Magazine. My buckwheat mead was awarded a gold medal, which was my benchmark for whether or not I should go into business making this amazing drink.

So, as of early next year, I will be starting a meadery in the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area of Virginia.

The jury is still out on what we should call it, so any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Also, am I getting in over my head? Should "don't quit your dayjob" be my motto?

Any help or suggestions would be great! My business plan is complete, we just need to put it to work.

Brian

Jmattioli
01-05-2004, 08:16 AM
Hello Brian,
That's Great news :D
Don't know much about the meadery business since I've less than a years experience but I am a successful retired business owner retiring at age 54 after starting a jewelry and coin business I knew little about from scratch in 1987. So here's my advice. If you have good products for a reasonable price and the ENTHUSIAM and INTEREST, you need only be of average intelligence or slightly below to make it! Here are some of the conservative rules I followed to my benefit.
#1 Don't quit your regular job til the business is up and running and can provide your needed income.
#2 Don't borrow money except from your self.
#3 Fall in love with all your customers because they will be the ones feeding you.
#4 Stay focused on your goal and always be looking for new products or ideas to increase your business.
#5 Follow through on your ideas. Even a bad idea will work if you work it hard enough.
#6 If you are married, make sure your wife is behind you.
#7 Don't look into all the problems associated with the business up front as this may change your mind.
Know this, as long as you love what you are doing and the customers you serve, somehow you will make it and get through all the problems associated with any business. Following these guidelines may not be as fast as borrowing and going big soon but it is a heck of alot surer and proven. Don't be in a rush and quit your job. People that do make the odds of success 1 out of 10.
Hope this helps..... Go for your dream but keep your feet on the ground. Best Wishes, Joe Mattioli

Redleg
01-05-2004, 09:09 AM
Thank you very much. Those are words to live by!

ThistyViking
01-06-2004, 06:20 AM
I'd like to hear about your trials and tribulations as you go through the process of starting up your meadery. I think several other people who visit this forum would also appreciate regular updates as to the process.

I have an uncle who lives in your area, I'll be buying at least a bottle or two through him when you open.

John

Redleg
01-06-2004, 06:47 AM
Thirsty,

Thanks for the <future> patronage! ;D

Right now, I am neck deep in the middle of composing the business plan. For every thing I research, 100 new ideas pop up. So, getting my mind around all these concepts is going to be a challenge.

So far, what I've done is started with a Microsoft Word template for the business plan. (From Microsoft word, choose the "Templates at Microsoft" button and conduct a search for "business plan") You should find a number of resources at Microsoft.

The next thing I did, to help me ask the critical questions, is download and print the sample business plan provided by Southern Illinois Univesity at http://www.illinoisbiz.biz/bus/pdf/WineryStartUpProfile.pdf

Together, these 2 resources should give me enough to chew on for the next few months.

I am going to be heading off to Argentina to do a tour of their wine country in 2 week, but when I return, I am going to fire up a 15 gallon batch of my "award winning" (I can't believe I just said that) buckwheat mead. I am going to be bottling this in 375ml bottles, to conduct my market research with.

There are a ton of resources out there. I bought Schramm's book and a book on Winery operations so that I can brush up on my techniques and see how a winery operates. Right now, I am literally flying by the seat of my pants, which is why the business plan is so important.

So far I know these things:
1) I have a good product that has a definable measure of quality.
2) I want to make mead for a living.

The biggest thing I do not know (I'll just choose one thing, because I could fill pages with the stuff I do not know) is:
- Where is the startup capital going to be coming from?

Brian

Jmattioli
01-06-2004, 11:45 PM
Don't worry about capital. Start on a small scale....building your business slowly. Keep your job and use your profits and savings from your regular job for capital. I started with $2,000 in a business that normally requires 10 times that amount. Allow me to be your first customer. I'll take a case of your award winning buckwheat mead when you are ready. If you can ship to KY I will pay the shipping. If not, let me know how much and where and when I can pick it up. You can start without a fancy business plan. Thay are usually written to impress banks and investors and mean very little. I have read some very wonderfully written plans that failed. You can get on the interenet and create a wonderful plan but your ideas in action are all that is needed. Get your required licenses, Make and Sell your product with what equipment you have. As you get orders .... grow from there. If it grows too fast, then write a business plan to get investors if you like. I found it best to have no partners. Just you and customers. That is normally your best chance at success.
Sincerely,
Joe Mattioli

ScottS
01-07-2004, 12:00 AM
I have not started my meadery yet, but I have looked into all of the rules and regulations. Have you?

I would recommend getting started acquiring the necessary permits and licenses yesterday. I have heard that sometimes it goes very smoothly, and other times it can take a year or more. In MI, I have to get licensed by three different entities in order to sell mead. And they won't do it simultaneously. By the way, federal regulations state that you cannot produce any product for sale until you have their license. I think this is the last of my three that I need to get, but I am not certain.

Good luck!

ronjohn55
01-07-2004, 06:47 PM
Hi Scott,

Where in MI? I'm in Dearborn, and would gladly sign on as a future customer!

John

ScottS
01-07-2004, 09:38 PM
Clarksville. Between Lansing and GR. My brother will be doing marketing in GR area, and a friend of mine will be marketing in Detroit area. Hopefully we'll be on the shelves in 2 years.

Thanks in advance for your future business!

JamesB
01-13-2004, 01:55 AM
Any chance of sharing that recipe for buckwheat mead with us? Generally, I haven't had success brewing mead with darker honey (ie. wild flower). I'm thinking of brewing an apple mead using buckwheat honey, though. Any thoughts?

I've considered the meadery business in Maryland, but MD state law does not allow you to be your own distributor. Thus, you are dependent on one of the two distributors in whatever county you live in. Furthermore, MD doesn't let you mail order wine, so probably you can't ship it to customers, either. See www.freethegrapes.org for details. Also, with licensing fees in excess of $1000/per year just to make the stuff, it's difficult to start out small. Don't quit your dayjob until you have to.

ThistyViking
01-15-2004, 02:01 PM
Any chance of sharing that recipe for buckwheat mead with us? Generally, I haven't had success brewing mead with darker honey (ie. wild flower). I'm thinking of brewing an apple mead using buckwheat honey, though. Any thoughts?

Given that he is going to be trying to market that recipe, i think it might fall in the category of trade secret and against his intrest to share.

On the issue of multiple permits, i think i recall having a federal permit before state approval in tennessee is considered automaticly in violation of TN permit requirments.

meadfest
02-10-2004, 10:56 PM
Hi All out there who want to start a meadery! We applaud and support you.

For any type of Meadery no matter the budget it is agreeably a large task to figure out how to start. I know meaderies who are commercial and operating out of their homes with a pretty small production capacity to meaderies operating with the goal of over 20,000 liters a year and more.

First I would define the type of Meadery one wants to operate

-There are basically three ways to go: 1) Set up a meadery and produce your own product. 2) Start a grape winery and also produce mead, maybe 25% of the mead on the market is made by a winery also producing grape wine 3) Contract out the production of your mead (much lower start up costs).

-Determine the name of the Meadery, logo design, etc.

-Decide will you have a tasting room or not?

-Beginning staff (a mead maker is a wise first employee)

-What state will the Meadery in? Figure out the laws of that state to determine what you are allowed to do as a winery, when you are allowed to be open, what licenses you need, what will your state taxes be, etc.

-Type of equipment (wise to have the mead maker help in these decisions). More of a winery or more of a brewery?

-What market will you go after (wine drinkers, beer drinkers, both?)

-Apply for your Federal and state paperwork as soon as you can because it sometimes takes a VERY long time. Again, apply early. So figure out some of your key recipes first because you will then have to submit the formula of each brand to the BATF for approval and once approved then submit your label for approval. Wine America's http://www.wineamerica.org/ label submission service to submit labels to the ATF is a very helpful service.

-Signage for your store front, promotional materials, etc. should all be designed right in the beginning.

-Design a plan (based on estimated production time) of when you think your first product will be ready for market. (Remember to apply for those labels from the BATF asap because this can hold you up).

-Plan a PR push for when that first product will be available for the market. The day you release the first product is when you can consider you are really open for business.

-Plan to attend and or enter if you have commercial product the International Mead Festival - Honeywines of the World November 5 and 6. You can taste the largest collection of commercial meads and talk shop with others in the industry. Go to www.meadfest.com for dates and information.

If you need more specifics feel free to contact us directly as we are available for consulting.

Julia Herz-Honeywine.com and Redstone Meadery
David Myers-Redstone Meadery
&
For information on the International Mead Festival visit: www.meadfest.com

ThistyViking
02-11-2004, 12:08 AM
Hi All out there who want to start a meadery! We applaud and support you.

For any type of Meadery no matter the budget it is agreeably a large task to figure out how to start. I know meaderies who are commercial and operating out of their homes with a pretty small production capacity to meaderies operating with the goal of over 20,000 liters a year and more.

For some reason i had the Idea that the meadery had to be in a seperate building for the residence... do you actually mean in thier homes, or on thier property?