Sunday, February 19, 2012

Going commercial--am I crazy?

Well, readers, Aaronap Cellars is taking a big step.  A few posts have eluded to the process, but just thought I formally announce that I've been taking the first steps in obtaining the required licenses and permits to turn Aaronap Cellars into a commercial winery.  As you can imagine, this has required a lot of soul searching, planning, and dreaming over the past 2-3 years.  At a number of points, I've come close to concluding that I'm absolutely nuts to consider this and should just be content to remain small and make wine for myself.  But every time I've paused to rethink, I fall back on the realization that wine-making is my passion and the career I want to pursue in the future.  That being said, I'm not a rich person, so will have to start small and keep my day job for financial support for a good long while.

I also have to give credit to a special someone who's recently come into my life.  Facing the long road through the approval process is daunting (to say the least) when you're alone.  Having someone standing beside you who firmly supports your dream and wants you to succeed is a big help & a source of comfort when you get a little discouraged.  This special someone has been an inspiration and one of the reasons that I've made more progress in the past 6 months than in the past 2-3 years.  All I can say to her is 'Thank you hon."

So, what have I accomplished so far?

1)  Completed a business plan
2)  Completed an initial financial planning spreadsheet
3) Filed for incorporation as Aaronap Cellars LLC with the Commonwealth of MA
4) Established business bank accounts
5) Became a member of the MA Farm Winery & Growers Association
6) Completed the Federal New Winery application.  OK, I still have 2 little items left to do before I can submit it, but one is to make a photocopy of the winery premise diagram and the other is purchase a surety bond (and I know who to call for that).  Those will both be done in the next 1-2 days so I consider the application complete.
7) Contacted the town of Westford to initiate the local approval process and got good initial feedback that the winery would be an allowable activity in my zoning.  Long road to go through the local approval, but a good first step.  Hey--at least they didn't say "NO"!

What's next?
1) Complete the MA Farm Winery license application
2) Obtain building permit to finish the basement
3) Clean out the basement and start construction!

There's a lot more after that, but that's the immediate next steps.  For those wanting to keep abreast of the up-to-the-minute news, please find Aaronap Cellars on Facebook.  I often find it much easier to write short snippets of info instead of an entire blog entry, but will continue to document the big steps here as well.  Winemaking activities will wind down during construction & licensing, but stay tuned!


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