Owning and operating a winery can be just as complex as your boldest reds. And in your line of work, you face a lot more risks than you may know — from the grape growing and harvesting to balancing the books to the legal liabilities that come with serving alcohol. The best way to properly protect your business and all that flows from it is with a blend of several different business insurance policies and endorsements, working together.
Fortunately, our independent insurance agents are here to eliminate the hassle of searching on your own by walking you through a hand-picked selection of top insurance policies to cover both your business and your employees. But first, let’s talk more about the protection you need and why you need it.
Common Risks Wineries Face
Wineries and vineyards are complicated businesses that can come with big rewards and no shortage of risks. You wear many hats in order to run your business—from farmer, to scientist, to marketer, and many more—yet so many things are simply out of your control.
You need winery insurance to protect you from the financial losses that can accompany damaged crops, spoiled wine, lawsuits, and other unforeseen events that can cost you everything. Even a small winery must insure every step of the winemaking process. As you grow, harvest, ferment, bottle, and sell your wines, one unexpected problem can destroy your thriving business overnight.
Among your biggest concerns to consider, are:
- Guests on your property, or at an event, slip and fall
- Guests damage or destroy grapes, wine, or equipment
- Grapes are crushed in transit
- Leakage, spillage, or accidental mixing destroys wine in process
- Insecticides used on grape crops drift on to neighboring properties
- Contamination and product recalls
- Winemaking equipment or agricultural equipment breakdown
- Extreme weather or natural disasters
- Wildfires, insect infestation, and plant diseases
Even stored wine just sitting in the cellar comes with its own risks, like:
- Spillage or leakage
- Theft or vandalism
- Utility or refrigeration outages
- Supply chain or logistics problems and delays
- Transportation and trucking exposures, from poorly trained drivers, to accidents and truck refrigeration breakdown
Wineries Need Coverage For Every Area of Their Business
To fully protect your winery, you’ll need a customized package of property, liability, automobile, crime, liquor liability, and other policies — a little of this, some of that, and so on. Talk to your independent insurance agent about the specifics of your winery operation, and they’ll steer you toward the coverages that work best for you, including:
Wineries need business property coverage to protect:
- Buildings and their contents, including wine-making machinery and equipment
- Inventory and stock
- Business interruption coverage to pay for ongoing expenses after a covered property loss
You can also add additional endorsements to your winery property insurance policy in order to increase your scope of coverage. To do so, talk to your independent insurance agent about special property coverages like:
- Contract cancellation coverage: Helps pay for attorney fees, marketing expenses, and other related costs if you’re unable to fulfill customer contracts (e.g., you can’t fill orders due to a supply shortage)
- Tank collapse coverage: Pays for expenses related to processing water after a tank collapse
- Tank leakage coverage: Provides protection for leakage of wine, completed or in-process, from a tank or other container.
- Mobile equipment coverage: Pays for damage to agricultural equipment (irrigation and harvesting equipment, etc.).
Crop insurance for wineries: Without viable grapes, you can’t make wine. Which means your harvest should be your first concern. Wineries need crop insurance for the costs of crop damage due to weather, vine infections, insect infestations, fires, floods, and other potential hazards. Crop insurance will not protect your grapes once they’ve been harvested, and certain perils, like earthquakes, may be excluded from your crop insurance policy. You may need to purchase additional earthquake coverage if you live in an area where it’s necessary.
Coverage for wine in storage or in transit: Once your grapes have been harvested and your wines blended, you need to make sure your wine is protected no matter where it is. You may need different policies for wine that’s stored on your property and wine that’s stored offsite. Your agent can help you determine the coverage you need.
Wine that’s in transit also needs coverage for physical loss or damage. Inland marine insurance protects wineries against direct physical loss or damage to property or stock while its being transported.
General liability insurance for wineries: If a guest slips and falls during a tour through your vineyard, or your wine causes a customer to become ill, a general liability policy would pay for direct costs (medical bills, etc.), attorney fees, court costs, settlements, and judgments if you’re sued.
Basically, it provides broad protection for third-party bodily injury and property damage claims. It also provides coverage for product liability, advertising liability, slander, and libel claims against your winery.
Equipment breakdown coverage for wineries: Wineries need equipment breakdown coverage to protect against costs associated with the sudden and accidental breakdown of machinery and equipment. It pays to repair or replace the equipment, as well as any business interruption costs that accompany it.
Contamination and spoilage coverage for wineries: A must-have for any winery, this coverage pays for certain losses if a batch of wine is spoiled or contaminated due to a refrigeration breakdown, utility interruption, or some other type of foreign substance.
Liquor liability coverage for wineries: Any establishment that sells, services, or furnishes alcoholic beverages needs liquor liability insurance to protect against bodily injury and property damage claims that result from selling or serving alcohol.
A Note About Special Events
Operations at a winery often extend far beyond just growing grapes, squeezing ‘em out to make wine, and selling it. Many wineries or vineyards invite the general public onto their grounds for tours, tasting, and other special events. You may run a year-round tasting room, host special tasting events, and even allow others to rent space on your premises for parties, weddings, dinners, and other events.
Inviting the general public onto your premises to consume wine and food and engage in other activities definitely increases your business’ exposure to risks. And many of these events require other businesses and vendors to perform services on your premises as well. An event might require a caterer, musicians, a florist, and even additional workers that may or may not be employed by you.
Even if you just host small events at your vineyard or winery, you still need to work closely with your independent insurance agent to ensure that all of the additional exposures are addressed with tailored winery insurance policies. What’s more, your customers and any vendors that they work with also need to have appropriate insurance (and show proof of coverage) in order to proceed with an event on your property.
Other Winery Insurance to Consider
Aside from major property and liability risks, wineries and vineyards likely need several other insurance policies to protect them from financial harm and unexpected events. Make sure you talk to your independent insurance agent about:
- Commercial auto insurance: Protects your fleet of trucks and any other vehicles owned by your winery. In addition, if employees drive personal vehicles for business use, you’ll need hired and non-owned auto liability insurance.
- Crime coverage: Protects your business from employee theft, forgery, or fraud that damages your business.
- Workers compensation insurance: This is required for any business that has employees. It protects your workers, like those who operate heavy equipment or harvest grapes in the vineyard, from the costs of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Cyber liability insurance: This protects your winery if you’re the victim of a cyber breach. If your computer network or website is hacked and confidential customer or vendor information is exposed, the damage to your reputation and bottom line can be disastrous.
- Some insurance companies offer a special policy for wineries called chemical drift insurance or pollution liability insurance: If you spray insecticides or other chemicals to protect your crops, those insecticides can drift onto neighboring properties and cause property damage or health problems for others. Chemical drift coverage can offer protection for physical injuries to people, crops, or animals as a result.
- Product recall coverage: This helps pay for costs related to removing recalled, damaged, or dangerous products from the marketplace.
- Employment practices liability coverage: This protects you if a current or former employee sues you for discriminatory employment practices.
Comparing Winery Insurance Quotes
Like any business owner, winery and vineyard owners need a trusted advisor who can help them find the best insurance coverage to protect their livelihood from the many potential—and costly—problems that can arise. Whether it’s dangers to the general public or your employees, or unforeseen events like fires, storms, and theft, you need the right combination of coverage that addresses whatever you might be exposed to.
Our independent insurance agents will review your needs and help you evaluate which winery insurance coverages make the most sense. They'll also compare policies and quotes from multiple insurance companies to make sure you have the best protection out there. They'll hook you up — in a comprehensive and affordable way.
What's So Great About Independent Insurance Agents?
Independent insurance agents excel at matching the most appropriate policy to the business in need. Shopping around for insurance policies can be tricky, confusing, and time-consuming, and an independent insurance agent's role is to simplify the process.
They’re also there to help make sure you get the absolute best deal, and the one that meets your unique needs. They shop and compare insurance quotes for you, and they'll break down all the jargon so that you understand exactly what you're getting.