Wine Exporting Regulations (and what they mean for your business)

Hello again!  If you read this far into my blog posts on wine export, you've probably already:

I wish all of the rule and regulations for wine exporting were as easy to find as checking a book titled 'Rules'!

I wish all of the rule and regulations for wine exporting were as easy to find as checking a book titled 'Rules'!

  • Defined your exporting opportunity
  • Found a viable customer on the other side of the ocean (or border...don't forget about Canada and Mexico!)
  • Determined what type of wines to sell based on the market need
  • Laid out the terms of the contract (ex-cellar vs. CIF vs. delivered)
  • Chosen a freight forwarding partner

So now what?  Are we forgetting something important?  Ah yes, good ol' Uncle Sam and his regulatory regime.  Here's what you need to know as an exporter:

The good news is, there is only one license that you absolutely need to export wine, your TTB Basic Permit.  You can find more information on this here, on the TTB's Wine Business Startup Guide.

With this license, you are able to acquire wine for export, so long as you export it within 30 days.  Read that last sentence one more time.  If you do not find a buyer, or complete the sale within 30 days, you are in some trouble.  Additionally, the TTB licence does not allow you to sell wine within the United States.  You'll need another permit for that (which I will review in my next post, which will cover the three-tier distribution system in the US).  Meaning if you don't export your wine in 30 days, it will be illegal to sell to anyone, and you will incur a total financial loss.  Not good at all. 

If you are not willing to put in the time and energy required to get legally set up to export wines, I would recommend finding a partner, such as a winery, distributor, or exporter who is already set up to do this type of business.  As we must always remember, the most important aspect of wine export is developing the end customer and selling the wines.  For your situation, it might make sense to leave the logistics of exportation and sourcing to an expert.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like more information on export regulations and their implications for your business, please get in touch!

Legal disclaimer: my lawyer would like me to point out that this is not legally-binding advice that you can use if the TTB or your state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control comes knocking at your door.  This blog post is merely a set of guidelines to help you in your own research.  Contact an alcohol business attorney for any legal advice you may require.