Opening a wine cellar abroad

Opening a winery abroad: it's your dream! A great professional adventure awaits you. But where do you start? How do you become a wine merchant? Which country should you choose? Les Grappes has some advice to help you get started.

Want to import wine? Simplify the process with Les Grappes

Becoming an independent wine merchant

What does it mean to be a wine merchant?

The wine merchant is first and foremost a salesperson. His or her main tasks are to welcome and advise customers on everything to do with wine: grape varieties, vintages, food and wine pairings, estates and châteaux... He or she must have a thorough knowledge of the range on offer and be able to respond to customer demand.

But a wine merchant's role doesn't stop there. Opening a wine cellar also means choosing to run a business, which involves stock management, supplier relations, administrative management, range development and customer loyalty.

What qualifications are required to open a wine cellar?

On paper, anyone can become a wine cellar owner. There are no compulsory courses or qualifications for success: it's a profession that can be learned on the job.

However, a very good knowledge of the wine world, a commercial mindset and managerial skills are essential to consider opening a wine cellar.

If, however, you would like to learn more about wine, there are a number of training courses available:

  • the different levels of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust)
  • DNO (Diplôme National d'Œnologie) or D.U.A.D (Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation)
  • CAP agricole vigne et vin
  • BTS technico-commercial in wines and spirits

Choosing your destination: where to open a winery abroad?

Studying the local market

Whether in France or abroad, carrying out a market study is an essential step before opening a business. It enables you to identify the opportunities and threats that could affect your business.

Ask yourself about the economic health of the country or town you're considering, as well as the competition already in place or ready to move in. You can find a lot of information at French embassies abroad.

Find out about local regulations

The legal and administrative aspects of setting up a business abroad are also essential. You may already be familiar with the procedures and authorizations required in France, but you may not be aware of those required in Canada, Italy or the UK. Non-EU countries should be studied even more closely.

Also, try to anticipate your company's day-to-day operations: how are you going to ship your wines? If you choose the USA, for example, the system for importing wine from France is complex. Don't hesitate to contact local customs for information on import procedures.

Thinking about your personal life

Opening a business abroad is not a decision to be taken lightly. In addition to all the business formalities involved, it's important to take time to think about your personal life in the country.

Do you speak the language? This minor detail can considerably influence your choice of destination. You won't be able to operate your business and your daily life efficiently and pleasantly if you don't have a minimum command of the local language.

Is there social security coverage? What local taxes do you have to pay? What status can you obtain as an expatriate? How does the pension system work? How do you send your children or future children to school? So many questions to ask yourself before choosing a country or city to settle in!

Preparing your project

What's the budget for opening a wine cellar?

Before embarking on your entrepreneurial project abroad, it's essential to ask yourself about the expenses you'll incur and the profitability of your future business.

Whatever country you choose to set up business in, you'll need to factor in a number of expenditure items:

  • renting or buying premises and fitting them out
  • building up an initial stock of wine
  • setting up a cash fund
  • business start-up costs (obtaining a license, hiring a chartered accountant, etc.)
  • communication costs

The budget for opening your wine cellar abroad will vary greatly depending on your project and the location you choose. The initial investment is generally estimated at between €25,000 and €200,000. The range is wide!

Drawing up a business plan

Every new venture requires a business plan. This comprehensive document presents and, above all, frames your project. It will include your market study, your financial forecast showing your expenses and projected sales, your outlook for development...

As far as your financial forecast is concerned, you'll need to carry out simulations and set minimum targets to cover your expenses and make your business profitable, as well as to earn a living.If you're abroad, you won't necessarily benefit from the same start-up assistance as in France.

Create your commercial offer

Included in your business plan, your commercial offer is a key factor in the success of your wine cellar. After analyzing the consumer habits of the country where you want to set up, build a balanced offer.

As a general rule, it's advisable to offer both classic vintages and nuggets that you've unearthed. In terms of price, all ranges should be represented. There should be something for both small and large budgets.

With Les Grappes, you can put together your offer in record time: over 1,000 winegrowers on a single platform!

Are you a professional selling wine? Les Grappes can help!

Les Grappes is an online wine sales platform for professionals. We support wine cellars, grocery stores, cafés and restaurants in their choice of wines, as well as in the creation of tailor-made wine lists! Depending on your project, your tastes and your budget, we'll help you choose the best wines, from among more than 1,000 winegrowers, in short circuits. Register free of charge and our team will contact you! For more information, visit our website.

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