This month was all about getting our CA ABC winery license and our TTB license. There are so many requirements and agencies involved. Here is an overview of what we have been up to.
Hope all is well, the corks are popping and the wine is flowing. While our garage wine is resting, we have started the long process of getting our Winery licenses. We are hoping for a Grand Opening in February 2015!
After searching all of San Diego County for weeks and weeks looking for an ideal location, Lisa and I came up with the thought of converting Lisa’s photography studio into a winery; we already have a lease, we like the landlord and the location. It is close to home, it is zoned properly and has all of the basic requirements to support a winery and tasting room. And the delay in licensing will give us plenty of time to transition.
The space is only a block off of the Carmel Mountain shopping center which draws a lot of people, is convenient, World Trade Drive is a well known reference and it is it just behind the Home Depot and down the street from Frog’s gym; work out, grab a bucket of paint and have a glass of wine. What could be better than that? So for right now, the plan is to open
Koi Zen Cellars @
12225 World Trade Drive, Suite P,
San Diego CA 92128
in a few months!!!
After a lot of preliminary conceptualizing and planning we approached the landlord. The landlord was receptive to the use and we were able to modify our existing lease to allow the space to also be used as a winery and tasting room. After that we met with the property manager and were able to get our tenant improvements approved. That was the first step in the licensing process. Now that we had a name and an address we could apply for our licenses and permits.
For the last two weeks, we have been scrambling around with the whole permit and licensing process. You just can’t believe how much fun this process is 🙂 Whoever invented the Paperwork Reduction Act had good intentions, but we still had to fill out a mountain of forms.
Next we had to get our business registered which involved a trip to the County Clerk’s office for our fictitious name (DBA). Then a sprint over to the Board of Equalization for our Employer Identification Number (EIN). Once we had this paperwork paid and filed for, then off to the bank to open a business checking account which requires both the DBA and EIN number. Once we had the bank then we could apply for our Business License since it requires all three pieces of information.
Then we started on our federal permits. Luckily you can apply online which apparently is so much better than the old paper application process. When you go to the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) website, there are 24 required forms and instruction packets just to get a winery permit. The on-line application takes care of most of the forms but it is still a two day process to read the instructions and fill out all of the information. There were only two paper forms and our bond check that had to be sent via snail mail. The good news is that you can check the application status 24/7; the bad news is that it hasn’t changed from pending status yet.
It’s funny how so many government departments get involved in the process. There is a useful website CalGold.ca.gov where you enter your zip code and the type of business (e.g. Winery) and it provides a list of all of the governmental offices who have an interest in what you are doing.
In our case, I think there are 32 agencies who have an interest: construction permits, business license, fire, safety, police, environmental health, health permits, weights and measure, national pollution discharge elimination system, occupational safety and health, food and drug administration and solid waste, just to name a FEW. (and realize that each department has their own forms, methods, instructions and process).
Next was the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) license. This was a paper process with about 10 forms, diagrams and descriptions. We have our initial application meeting with the ABC next week where we submit the application in person for initial review.
Over time, I am sure other paperwork requirements will emerge and will be filled in as requested. Now it is a waiting game. TTB and ABC are currently taking about 60-100 days to process applications, I hope it comes sooner; I just can’t wait to get started building our brand and making some great wine.
Last weekend I was planning on racking off our three barrels of wine, but it has not finished malo yet, so I will give it another week and test again. If you have no idea what I am talking about, then stay tuned for the next installment and I will give you all of the details you have ever wanted about malo, racking, Sur Lie aging and batonnage (don’t cheat by looking them up).
Oh, by the way: we have started building our website so please be sure to visit us at koizencellars.com and don’t forget to bookmark it. All of the newsletter have been added to the blog on the website. It doesn’t look pretty right now, but it will get better over time. I will be changing over to my new email address, firstname.lastname@example.org so please be sure to save it to your address book so the emails don’t get bounced; shoot me an email just to test it out. Also we should be popping up on Facebook, Twitter and a few other social media sites as well.
Darius and Lisa