Wine Importing - Printable Version

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- daffyntx - 03-21-2009 07:06 PM

I am looking for help and knowledge of importing wines into Texas or possibly California. I have looked on the TTB web site and understand the laws that govern this, but I have found no information in the start up costs involved. I am not certain of what all in involved in this business but I intend on finding out, so I am looking for some guidance in this - Can someone help me or point me in the right direction - Thanks

[This message has been edited by daffyntx (edited 03-21-2009).]

- wondersofwine - 03-24-2009 08:42 AM

Did you look into importing wine into Texas at one time? I know from previous postings that there are all sorts of complexities to deal with in setting up such a business--bonding, licensing, taxes, etc. And then the matter of proper temperature control during transport and storage and setting up distribution chains.

- daffyntx - 03-24-2009 07:17 PM

I have just begun to research the import business. I am looking for help in finding out exactly what this process is. I understand the Federal and State Laws that govern it. I am looking for maybe a "how to book" with a "how not to" guide for importing wine. Also if anyone knows the start-up costs for this.

- hotwine - 03-24-2009 10:01 PM

Jane, I did indeed look into importing years ago, but gave up due to complexities of federal and state laws.... that's why I've remained silent on the question.

When I looked into it more than 10 years ago, I found that an importer could not be a wholesaler, nor a retailer (at that time.... don't know about now). The importer was required by the BATF to have a federal import license, a bonded warehouse in which to store wines at the port of entry, a fleet of vehicles used to transport the wines that were not used for any other purpose, bonded employees who only worked the import business... it went on and on. And each employee, storage facility and vehicle required an annually renewable license. And that was just at the federal level. State requirements were add-ons to those, with their own annual fees, inspections, etc.

The movement of alcoholic beverages is seen as a taxing opportunity by state and federal governments at each stage of the business. I lost my appetite for the whole endeavor.

Anyone looking to set up such a business should really start with the state's alcohol control commission, and move from there to the federal level. If I wanted to do it now, I'd hire a lawyer who specialized in import law.

As to costs..... easily low six figures with unlimited upside, depending on storage, labor force, vehicles, etc. I no long have the patience required to deal with so many functionaries.

[This message has been edited by hotwine (edited 03-24-2009).]

- Innkeeper - 03-25-2009 10:29 AM

Although it is true that federal and most state laws say you can't be both an importer and distributor; there must be a legal way to wear two hats in the same office, because I know of some people who do it. Again it would a good idea to take Hotwine's advice and consult a lawyer with expertise in this area.

- Kcwhippet - 03-25-2009 11:31 AM

Aren't Kacher, Thiese and maybe a few others both importing and distributing?

- hotwine - 03-25-2009 12:52 PM

Can't answer Bob's question but recall another little wrinkle in the law at the time I was interested - there was a prohibition against family members being employed by the licensee. That could have just been a state wrinkle here in Texas.

- andrawes76 - 03-26-2009 07:35 PM

I can help out if you want. I know plenty of importers, brokers and such. Its complex and if you can muscle a few TABC interviews, you can get a license, but be prepared to make a dollar commitment. The lawyers who can get you the license will cost you $1000 alone. Once you have the state license, you'll need a Federal Basic Permit. Contact the TTB Treasury dept to do that. If you are serious and want advice. Call the 800 number in the header and ask for Alex