More than ever, peopel are demanding when it comes to the wines they consume. Many are so passionate about this precious liquid, to the point of devoting their lives to it. It was then that a new career was born as a wine merchant, sommelier, or wine bar manager.

Do you recognize yourself in this story? Maybe you are made to open a wine bar. But before taking the plunge into starting a business, there are several steps to be taken. You will have to be aware of the state of the market, create a differentiating concept. In short, you will need a well-designed business plan for your wine bar or wine kiosk.

Opening of a wine bar: the market challenges you with quality!

First of all, be aware that wine consumption is in continuous decline, according to franchised companies: the French drink three times less wine today than in the 1960s.

The site explains this drop by a change in consumption habits. Today, there are many information campaigns on the harmful effects of alcohol. More than before, the public pays attention to their food hygiene and health, especially for the elderly or pregnant.

And yet, the wine bar niche is booming. Indeed, there were more than a thousand in France in 2011, i.e., twice as many as in 2005, according to an Ipsos study in November 2011.

What should be remembered from this situation, which may seem paradoxical, is that the wine loses quantity, but gains in quality, wine lovers looking above all for the best grape varieties!

You should therefore bear this in mind when you carry out the market study of your wine bar. Observe the state of competition in your town and its surroundings. But above all, remember that your customers will be very demanding.

Also, remember to consult our article for starting a beer bar.

modern wine bar design

Opening a wine bar: the concept is essential.

One of the significant challenges when it comes to creating a wine bar is differentiation. Indeed, your brand will have to stand out from direct competitors (other drinking establishments) and indirect (consumption at home).

Again, we will insist on the requirements that you will have to demonstrate: you must know everything about wine, of course, but beyond this criterion, you will also have to propose a new recipe for your company.

You can differentiate yourself by the wines offered; for example, specialize in organic wines, focus only on Bordeaux wines, or only on white wines.

Be careful, however: your market research must tell you if your concept is sufficiently open to the public: if you address a too-small audience, your turnover will suffer.

You can also choose to bet on the setting and the atmosphere or offer activities such as tastings or wine courses to seduce wine lovers.

Find The most popular design wooden bar counters for a wine shop.

Where to set up a wine bar?

The choice of the commercial premises in which to set up a wine bar is an essential and delicate stage.

Here are some criteria to take into account:

  • Places: The passage, the city center, and the streets with large traffic volume are to be privileged. Places will undoubtedly be more expensive, but this will help your business to make itself known.
  • Size: you will need a room spacious enough to store a wide choice of wines, as well as a large area to receive your customers
  • Neighbors: avoid neighborhoods that are too residential, or the noise may disturb your neighbors, especially if you have a terrace
  • Image: the neighborhood around your location should be in line with the concept and image of your bar
  • Competitors: you can opt for commercial premises located at a reasonable distance from the competition, or conversely choose to put yourself near other bars to create a point of attraction. Up to you

Which legal status to choose for a wine bar?

To open or take over a wine bar, you will need to choose a legal status for your business.

Several options are available to you here, and schematically you will have to choose between:

  • A partnership like the sole proprietorship: generally taxed on income tax, these forms of companies do not have a legal person, which means that the entrepreneur is responsible for the debts of the company on his assets
  • A capital company such as the sole proprietorship with limited liability (EURL): generally imposed on corporation tax, capital companies are a little heavier in terms of administrative formalities but allow to benefit from limited liability to the contributions

Do not take this decision lightly because, besides the method of taxation and the extent of your responsibility, this decision will also influence your social system as a manager (assimilated employee or self-employed).

Staff and material need to open a wine bar.

The main difficulty will be recruiting staff because your customers expect a minimum of knowledge in enology.

Therefore, the staff you hire should have a good wine culture, especially the grape varieties you offer. Therefore, you will need to find employees who are sufficiently qualified for this type of work, possibly plan to train them, and above all succeed in keeping them.

In terms of investments, you will need to plan in particular:

  • the work of fitting out the room, in particular the installation of the bar counter, which can be pretty expensive, and the wine storage space, which may require the installation of a system to control the temperature and the level of 'humidity
  • furniture (tables, chairs, barstools, equipment for the terrace, etc.) and crockery in sufficient quantity, because in restoration it is broken faster than you think
  • a sufficiently large stock of wines, and a security system to deter burglars
  • a website and marketing elements (wine list, business card, awning or illuminated sign, etc.)

For all this material, remember to request quotes and compare prices before committing.

In terms of licenses, which one you need will depend on the type of drinks offered. Note that this system under restoration was also simplified in 2016:

  • Category II and III licenses have been merged. It is this dual license that you will need for wines and sweet wines, whether for consumption on-site (license III) or to take away ("Small license to take away").
  • On the other hand, if you wish, in addition to your wine, to offer rum or distilled alcohol (whiskey, for example), you will need an IV license.

Do not neglect either the administrative part of your activity (accounting, payroll, schedule management, supply management, etc.) which can quickly require a considerable amount of time. Consider outsourcing some of this work to an accountant, for example.

Also remember to take out insurance to protect yourself: professional liability, theft of stock, etc.

The marketing plan to open a wine bar

The marketing plan aims to detail and quantifies the actions to be implemented to attract and retain your customers.

In addition to finding a good location, which will help you quickly get the news of your inauguration known and allow you to attract natural passers-by to your bar, you can consider the following actions:

  • Develop a community on social networks: you can use Facebook to highlight the atmosphere of your bar or a shipment of exceptional wines
  • Work on your referencing: you can have a showcase site created and be referenced on Google Maps in particular
  • Communicate in the media: you can advertise the opening of your bar in local newspapers or contact specialized websites (directories, bloggers). If you have an unusual concept, an article about you will interest them all the more
  • Play on tourism: for example, if you practice in the Pays de la Loire region and focus on wines from the region, you will be interested in wine-loving tourists. You can also try to reference tourist guides such as Le Guide du Routard or Lonely Planet.

Realize the business plan of your wine bar

Once you have thought through your marketing plan, furniture, and your material and staffing needs, you are ready to write your wine bar business plan.

The business plan is a document comprising a presentation of the project and a financial forecast. It allows the project leader to verify that it is financially viable and serves as a reference document to present your project to open a wine bar to banks or investors.

Your bar's business plan must highlight the strengths of the project and the risks associated with its implementation and highlight the need for initial financing and the potential for profitability.

Find the necessary funding to create a wine bar.

Once you have established your wine bar business plan, you can start fundraising.

Several options are available to you, and you can in particular consider:

  • An equity investment: these are the sums invested by the various partners, you as well as private investors (your relatives, business angels, etc.)
  • Bank financing: obtaining financing for business creation is not always easy, but you can try to finance part of your equipment or your stock
  • A crowdfunding campaign: crowdfunding allows you to call on a community of individuals to finance you in exchange for gifts (a bottle of wine, for example) or shares in your company. It is also an excellent way to communicate on the opening of your wine bar before the launch.
  • Aid for business creation: the public authorities and local authorities offer aid for business creation in the form of relief from charges, tax credit, or subsidy