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Every winery has a hierarchical structure similar to that pictured below. Even if you are the sole self-employee, you still have to wear all these hats and make time to fulfill the responsibilities associated with them.  It’s a good strategy to start off gaining a familiarity with everything that needs to be done.  Then when you bring on other staff, you’ll be able to guide them.  

Of course, you keep the jobs you love and are good at (it’s usually the same thing) and find people who love the jobs you hate.  In this way, you build a complimentary team with mixed skills and have cross-training for every position so employees can get sick, go on vacation or leave the company (see small business audit below).


The Fulfillment Matrix is a living document that assigns specific duties to individuals or roles within the company.  Its purpose is to ensure that all needed functions are clearly assigned with nothing missing.

Generally the Matrix assigns primary and secondary responsibility to a given function.  The buck stops with the supervisor, indicated with a “1”. Individuals supporting the function are designated with a “2”.

Job descriptions are then derived from the Matrix.  It’s important to begin by listing all needed functionalities rather than to construct the Matrix from existing jobs.  A job like Tasting Room Manager won’t be important until you set one up, but it should still be listed as a placeholder with an assignment to someone for preliminary planning.

Even if there is only one person in the company who wears all the hats, an awareness of the whole hat rack helps to budget time to attend to each and to realize when the time has come for outsourcing or hiring employees.  The great thing about an expanding company is that you always get to keep the jobs you love and delegate the ones you hate or are unskilled at to somebody who loves them and is competent to perform them.

The Matrix should be revisited regularly.  Besides employee turnover, functions can grow or shrink and shift in nature.  For example, website development involves a larger time commitment and a different skill set than website operation and security maintenance.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Small Business Audit

Use this seven-part inquiry to determine where your team strategy is working and where you are vulnerable.

  1. Employees: Does a satisfactory balance exist between loyalty (“Social Contract”) and accountability (“Business Contract”)?

            Metrics: Turnover, salary & benefits parity, labor efficiency.

  1. Robustness: How sensitive is the business to volume changes?

            Metrics: Fixed costs and obligations, indebtedness,

  1. Mortality: How dependent are you on key personnel?

            Metrics: Can you take a two-week vacation? 

                        Can middle management articulate your vision?

  1. Flexibility: Are new product diversifications in the hopper if you need them?

            Metrics: Product testing, supplier contracts, market research

  1. Focus: Is marketing in place which serves your vision for the future?

            Metrics: Do customers know who you are and where you’re going?

  1. Integrity: Are you vulnerable to legal attack?

Metrics: OSHA audit, County compliance, Federal and State Compliance, infringement, outstanding contract breach

  1. Solidity: How clean are relationships among Stakeholders?

            Metrics: documentation of incentives, buy-out provisions, retirement plans

Integrated Automated Software

It is critical for small wineries to acquire and master software that is inexpensive, easy to use, and as automated and integrated as possible.  Double entry wastes time and is prone to error.  Here are our recommendations that meet these requirements.

  1.  Accounting:  Quickbooks is the standard.  Despite its quirks and intricacies, your CPA will probably insist on it.  We don’t recommend the online version despite its easy of integration with other software.  We have worked out systems for Quickbooks to pay invoices, manage inventory, supply Cost of Goods information for bulk wine calculations, create budget variance reports, track sales data, input into cash management tools, assign commissions and report profitability.  It’s important to begin with the right Chart of Accounts.

            Integrations:  Wine production software, sales tracking systems, inventory management.

  1. Wine production tracking:  We recommend  Written by winemakers, it is intuitive and has almost no learning curve. It can import bulk costs from Quickbooks and track complex transactions as wines are blended, split, combined, experience gains and losses, and finally are bottled.  Only then can an accurate final Cost of Goods per bottle be entered into  Quickbooks to be expensed at the time of sale.
  2.  Vineyard Cost Management: We advise that vineyards use a separate set of books in Quickbooks.  Grape costs to the winery cannot carry vineyard establishment and land purchase amortizations.  Wine pricing requires a fair fixed price per ton be established with the vineyard bearing the risk of yield fluctuations and building that risk into the selling price.  Fixed and variable components of  vineyard costing as well as traceability of spray application are well handled in’s Vineyard Tracking module.
  3. Sales Management: Another winery-written software, easy to use at low cost is  It manages web sales, performs all the complexities of wine clubs and all other distribution channels, provides terrific reports and manages cased goods inventory in real time.

            We are quite enamoured of Zoho One Enterprise Version.  Incredibly, it provides 36 applications that replace far more costly software, all integrated together, all for $35 per user per month.  

                        Here are some of our favorite applications:

6. Contact Relational Management (CRM):  Zoho CRM is a library of all your customers and vendors using contact information forms that are fully customizable and easily searchable. It’s reports are loaded into email campaigns and track bounces and unsubscribes.  Collecting data for potential customers should be a start-up’s first order of business, even years before launch and starting with friends and family and adding anybody who expresses interest in your dream.  The free version accepts up to 2,000 contacts.

7.  Email management:  Similar to Constant Contact and Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns is included in your subscription. Campaigns are easy to create and track, follow-up campaigns and connections to social media are facilitated, and it integrates with Zoho CRM.

8. Project Management:  Zoho Projects is useful for planning and tracking any sort of project such as event planning and construction projects.  A winemaking plan can be set up for each lot to be vinified in the coming vintage.  As the plan is executed, documents can be uploaded such as contracts, correspondence with growers, weigh tags, and work orders, providing an historical trail available to accounting staff to back up their cost accounting.  You start with a plan and end up with a documented history.

Let me know if you’d like a $100 Mini-Consult to adapt this information to your situation.