Log In / Join Now

Ask Dr. Vinny



Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can I sell my homemade wine? What kind of license do I need to obtain to do that?

—Denea, Atlanta

Dear Denea,

The good news is that federal law permits adults to make up to 100 gallons of homemade wine per calendar year if you are the only adult living in the household, and up to 200 gallons if there are two or more adults in the household. The law also allows you to take your homemade wine off premise, “for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, such as home winemaking contests, tastings or judgings.”

Guess what it says you may not do, under any circumstance? Sell it.

Before you make any wine for commercial purposes, you first need to submit an application to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and get their approval. You’ll need to decide your business structure (as in, are you going to be a bonded winery or a customer at a commercial crush operation?), and submit various applications, including with the IRS (to make sure you’re paying tax on your sales!), labels and a bond to underwrite your payment of federal taxes on your planned wine sales. If you want to turn your home into a legitimate winery, you’ll need to register with the FDA, and there might be state, county and local laws that cover everything from water rights to licensing and distribution guidelines.

If that doesn’t sound complicated enough, this process is currently halted due to the partial federal government shutdown.

I don’t mean to be discouraging, but I want to make sure you know what you’re getting into. There’s much more information at the TTB’s website, including online application forms. Good luck!

—Dr. Vinny

Wine Basics

We break down the basics—how to taste, serve, store and more. Plus:
» Maps of major wine regions
» Grape variety characteristics

How-to Videos

Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more

Wine Spectator School: All courses are FREE for WineSpectator.com Members

Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.

Browse our course catalog
Check out the professional wine sales and service courses
Learn Wine Forum: Got questions? Get answers


WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.