It's official, we are officially a WINERY!!!
After 9 months working with the federal government and the state of Wisconsin, WINEaLOT Vineyards has received all the necessary permits to sell WINE!! We are SUPER excited to move forward and start this next journey.
The past 9 months have been a roller coaster for us. In July 2020, we submitted our federal permit applications. While this took time to complete, little did we know it was the easiest step in the process. 3 months later, we received the federal basic permit, we were so excited!! This meant in the eyes of the federal government, WINEaLOT Vineyards was a winery! The next step was to apply for the state permits.
The state of Wisconsin winery permits are easy enough to complete but require a lot of additional information be completed and attached. This took time to assemble. Another 3 months past before hearing from the state agent. All seemed to be going well, we anticipated having our permits in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, the state agent found an issue in our application that warranted him to DENY our permit!! If you have ever watched the Disney movie "Hercules" picture the seen when Hades blows up yelling "WE WERE SO CLOSE!!" (follow this link to watch a snip of the scene https://youtu.be/ZmUoZMSxia0). This is exactly how I felt. If you can picture me jumping up and down screaming how close we were and that we tripped at the finish line. I spent a whole week feeling sorry for myself but I knew I had to make a decision. Do I give up and walk away, or do I try again? Giving up was not an option, there had to be a way. I began making phone calls, I spoke with other wineries in the state. I even started calling senators, Senator Sortwell tried to help but the alcohol laws proved to difficult to navigate.
Fast forward to January 2021, WINEaLOT Vineyards started over. I completely restructured the business, changed my business strategy and redesigned WINEaLOT Vineyards LLC. Since the federal government still viewed us as a winery, I had to let them know of all the changes I just made. These changes needed to be accepted before I could move forward, this only took a couple weeks this time. Next, I resubmitted the state of Wisconsin applications. 2 months later the state agent called to schedule another meeting. We were back where we started, I was terrified!
The meeting went well, the agent didn't see any reason to deny us this time. There was just a couple changes to make and the permits could be issued. I was so excited and started working on the changes immediately. Of course, I had no idea how to fix these issues and apparently, neither did the state departments I was talking with. I spent a month calling different departments, researching how to make these changes, it seemed impossible. Finally, I spoke with 1 helpful gentleman who knew what I was talking about and helped me make the changes. The application was sent to the issuing department.
Of course, something else has to go wrong again. The issuing department contacts me saying there is an issue with the application and that an entire section must be changed. This section required more changes to the structure of the business and would force WINEaLOT Vineyards to START OVER! I reached out to the state agent who forwarded the issue to the legal department. After another week, I received an email that WINEaLOT Vineyards HAD A WINERY PERMIT and could start production!!!
When business owners tell their start up stories and appear to have a crusty shell its because of what they went through to reach where they are today. Sometimes I look back at how far we have come and tear up. I was so ready to give up but we persevered. With a lot of hope, prayer and will, WINEaLOT Vineyards is a winery and I cannot wait to pop open that first bottle of WINEaLOT Wine for everyone!