Florida regulations define the concept of wine as “a beverage made from fresh fruits, berries, or grapes, either produced through natural fermentation or the same technique with the addition of brandy.
In this article, you will discover the fundamentals of winery licenses in Florida.
How Do I Get a Winery License in Florida? – Full Walkthrough
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is the agency responsible for issuing alcoholic beverage licenses. Before applying for a winery license, applicants must register with the Florida Department of Revenue to obtain a sales and use tax.
The DBPR divides alcohol licenses into three major categories, which are manufacturer licenses, distributor licenses, and special licenses. Winery licenses fall under the manufacturer category with two options:
- AMW (Wine Makers) license
- BMWC (Wine markers & Cordials) license
It is important to understand that the harder the type of alcoholic beverage, the more expensive the license to produce it.
Under Florida law, cider is considered wine, which requires cideries to have winery licenses to operate. Even though mead and honey wine cannot be classified within that state definition of wine, meaderies generally need winery licenses as well.
Both AMW and BMWC licenses are issued by the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT), a branch of the Florida DBPR.
If the applicant wants to manufacture or bottle classic wine, cider, or mead wine, the adequate option is the AMW “Wine Makers” license. The annual fee paid for this license is $1,000/year.
If the applicant wants to manufacture wine or cordials, the adequate option is the BMWC “Wine markers & Cordials” license. The annual fee paid for this license is $2,000/year.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Winery License in Florida?
Usually, the timeframe required to obtain a permanent winery license ranges between five and six months. Depending on the applicant’s goal, it is possible to apply for a temporary license.
The advantage of temporary licenses is that they are issued immediately, considering the application forms are properly filed and offer sufficient evidence of the applicant’s qualification to manufacture or bottle wine.
The reduced cost is also an advantage, as the filing fee for a temporary license is usually one-quarter of the amount paid for a permanent license.
Is it Possible to Sell Wine Directly to Customers with a Florida Winery License?
State law has strict provisions to separate alcohol manufacturers, distributors, and retailers into different categories. Hence, neither an AMW nor a BMWC license allows wineries to sell their goods directly to consumers in Florida.
Referred to as the “Tied House Evil” statute, Florida Statutes §561.42 prohibits wineries from profiting or having any financial interests in retail operations. This rule has two exceptions, which are opening a tasting room or obtaining a specific license to sell wine at events.
The first option allows wineries to operate a tasting room as part of their premises, which requires an additional license to the AMW or BMWC license. In such cases, a licensed winery can sell wine for immediate consumption on the premises or stored in sealed containers for sale.
The second option allows wineries to sell their goods at festivals, trade shows, expositions, and other qualifying events.