How to start a small distillery

Getting into a business that is this difficult can seem overwhelming. This is the reason why I decided to share my startup expenses on starting a small grappa distillery. I’m totally open and willing to share insights others hide in fear of competition. I embrace it and although money is an issue with some small sacrifices this can be achieved and applied to all types of businesses.

I’m including actual financial records of my costs of acquiring the equipment along with miscellaneous expenses like fees for US customs and many more. This is to show people that going after your dream doesn’t mean breaking the bank and below you will see how I made this happen.

It all started with my dream of owning and operating the only 100% Greek distillery in the United States. I remember sitting on the bus coming home from a long day at work, and during my journaling of random thoughts around self-improvement and business it hit me. Distilling and wine making has been in my family for over 30 years and since I can remember I was always involved either I realized it or not. Starting with my grandfather making wine which got passed to my dad and onto me. I grew up in Greece and at the age of 16 moved to Seattle where I finished school and pursued a career in technology, I was successful but not complete.

The need for the distillery came from the fact that as a Greek I cannot find quality and affordable Greek spirits, thus with my experience and family tradition the Mastrogiannis Distillery was created with a simple goal - to create authentic Greek artisian spirits in the United States.

So let’s dive into the equipment and cost.

Finding a location

Finding a space that complies with your city’s zoning is crucial. If you are unware of the zones got your county’s website and look for zoning, they also have a zoning office that you can call and give them your address for confirmation.

My space was found via craigslist, but not without struggle. It took me 7 months to find the right location that had landlords that understood my business and where able to work with me.

Second step was to work with the building and fire department to get the initial green light to move into the space by them blessing my equipment and plan - this was hard and took another two months.

Third and fourth step is to get into the space with your equipment and submit your state and Federal approvals, both parties require that local authorities are good with your business plan and proposal.

Equipment and Resources

I also put together a list of the expenses for a more detailed, view - click below to download it.

Download the expense sheet

Final thoughts

Although this is a very short and to the point list, I hope that it gets you inspired - once the big ticketed items are purchases. You need to attack and lock your location along with local authorities. Those two steps will be the hardest during your start-up cycle.

Written on May 23, 2015