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What Makes Wine Accounting Complicated?

What Makes Wine Accounting Complicated?

You may have only been drinking wine made in the United States for a few years, but people have been making wine in this country for nearly 500 years. American wine was an undervalued industry for decades, and it has only been in the last 50 years that people have really savored good wine made in America. If you are in the wine business, you already know that the winemaking industry is a different business, especially when it comes to accounting practices. Accounting for wineries and vineyards is difficult. To make things easier, you’ll need an accountant with experience in winery and vineyards, specifically. Anyone without that experience is more prone to making mistakes, which could lead to financial woes for you.

Two Types of Accounting in One Business

Most agricultural bookkeeping—whether with crops and crop rotation, produce, or livestock—is straightforward. Accountants in the agriculture business only have to keep one set of books. However, the wine making process is different in terms of accounting. In reality, there are two types of accounting going on at the same time in the wine business.

Protea Financial Cash Accounting

Cash Accounting

First, in accounting terms, vineyards—the fields where the grapes are grown—operates as a traditional farm. This means that farmer built arbors or trellises to hold the grapevines, planted the grapes, waited for them to mature, and harvested them. The farmer handles pesticides, replanting, and other issues with a vineyard. The farmer selects specific grapes to grow depending on the type of wine desired, the soil conditions, and the planting or growing season. Because vineyards are an agricultural crop, accountants can keep the books as a cash accounting business.

If the grower has a vineyard without a winery, the cash accounting method of bookkeeping is still acceptable because the crop is planted, grown, and harvested in a cycle that typically spans one growing season. Payments for the growing season occur at one specific time.

 

Accrual Accounting

Many vineyards are attached to a winery business. If you own both a winery and a vineyard, the cash method of accounting isn’t enough. Wineries must be measured on an accrual accounting basis. In accrual accounting, revenue and expenses are recorded in the books at the time of the transaction. Many wineries use accrual accounting as part of the bookkeeping process, because not all wine sells at the time of bottling.  A bookkeeper would record expenditures for wine barrels at the time of the barrel purchase. The wine that goes into that barrel may not be sold for months or years, at which time the bookkeeper records the revenue. Cash accounting is easier than accrual accounting, because expenses and revenues happen in the same growing season. Accrual accounting takes someone with far more knowledge of accounting practices.

Because of the operations of a winery with a vineyard, a wine accountant must be able to balance two books—using cost and accrual accounting practices—rather than a single ledger.

Protea Financial Accrual Accounting

Wine Production Has a Long Expenditure Capitalization Process

Not only does a wine accountant need to manage two books, they must also understand the long period of vineyard growth. Beginning operations as a vineyard is an expensive initial investment. After you purchase the land, you must pay for arbors or trellises for the grapes and pick the type(s) of grape you want to plant for winemaking. Grapes used in winemaking take several years to grow and become good wine producers. People who plant vineyards must be in it for the long haul, and not mind excessive spending with a return on investment in years rather than months.

Wine accountants know that to operate a successful winery, expenditures must be capitalized throughout the growing process. When commercial production begins, the accountant can begin to account for both expenditures and income on the ledger. Capitalization is important during the wine production process to allow the business room to grow without all of the expenses taking the operating and production capital out of the business when production begins.

 

Cost Accounting Is Different For A Winery

When an accountant uses the cost accounting procedure for a winery, they must use a non-traditional method. Two of the processes during making wine, crushing grapes and bottling the wine, take a short amount of time. That means the expenses or income happen quickly. However, two other processes for winemaking are long term. Wine is aged in barrels for a period before it is poured into a bottle. After the wine is poured into a bottle, it is aged again. Any costs incurred here happen over a period of months or even years. In fact, the higher grade a wine is and the more expensive it is, the longer the aging process takes.

 

Activity-Based Cost Analysis

In activity-based cost analysis, costs are assigned by wine type. That way, an accountant can figure the cost to produce the wine by the gallon or by the bottle. However, activity based cost analysis can get complicated for an accountant. Each wine has a different storage time, and this impacts cost accounting. Wine accountants must take shrinkage into consideration, as the volume of wine in a bottle shrinks during the aging or bottling process. A winery may sell some of the wine in bulk in the barrel or in the bottle before it is aged. Also, wineries may value inventory in different ways, including last in—first out, or by the dollar value of each bottle.

One other factor that wine accountants must take into consideration is charitable donations of bottles and the effect on inventory. Wineries are often asked to contribute bottles to charity auctions, and it is good advertising for any winery or vineyard. Because each bottle must be accounted for, a wine accountant must check inventory against a list of charitable donations of wine bottles.

 

Let Protea Make Wine Accounting Less Complicated – We Are Here to Help

Wine accounting is understandably complex, especially if you own or manage both a winery and a vineyard. If you are the owner of a winery and a vineyard, you want to find an accountant who is familiar with the bookkeeping and inventory practices of wineries. Don’t trust your accounting to someone who isn’t familiar with keeping books for the wine industry. When you need a wine accountant, contact Protea Financial, and let us help you keep the best books in the wine business. 

Cut Your Winery’s Operating Costs with a Winery Bookkeeper

Cut Your Winery’s Operating Costs with a Winery Bookkeeper

Operating a winery is a challenging job. It requires an in-depth knowledge of many aspects of growing produce. You need to understand your plants, keep your soil healthy, watch for signs of infection or pests, and know when your plants are ready to harvest. Then you need to harvest your grapes and go through the entire winemaking process. Once the wine is bottled, aged, and ready to sell, you then need to take on the marketing of your product.

As the owner, it is your job to keep track of all aspects of this business. You need to know your details readily, including expenditures and income. Not having accurate finances can cut into your bottom line. It can even cost you money instead of making a profit. Some business owners struggle with this aspect of their winery as they do not properly keep up with the numbers of the business. That is when outsourcing to a winery bookkeeper may be the best option to prevent your winery from taking a loss.

By outsourcing your winery’s bookkeeping to a bookkeeper who understands the wine industry, you can reduce your operating costs. There are several benefits to using an expert bookkeeper that make it worth the cost. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running your business, you know where to reach out to experts. This is one of the easiest places to seek help.

 

What Does a Winery Bookkeeper Do?

A winery bookkeeper can assist you with virtually any task related to managing your finances. They will oversee your accounts payable and accounts receivable. Plus, they work with clients to ensure that invoices are paid in a timely manner and communicate with vendors to make payments. They will also reconcile your monthly bank statements with your internal financial documents and coordinate with the bank if there are any issues.

Tax preparation is another task that a winery bookkeeper can assist with. Your bookkeeper can work closely with your accountant on your annual tax returns. They can gather much of the information your CPA needs, reducing the amount of work your accountant must do. This, in turn, can reduce the cost of your professional accounting services.

Depending on your organization, a winery bookkeeper may even take on tasks related to inventory or order tracking. Some even manage all aspects of the winery’s inventory. Your bookkeeper will also be a sounding board for financial decisions you need to make. They can provide expert advice on potential projects or expansions.

Where a traditional bookkeeper would have to take time to look up regulations or requirements, a winery accountant knows these things from experience. What that means is you pay for fewer hours hiring a winery accountant, but get more accurate and detailed financials as a result.

 

Protea Winery Bookkeeping Saves You Money

How a Winery Bookkeeper Can Save You Money

Using a bookkeeper instead of handling your finances yourself will reduce your operating costs in several ways. To fully understand where these savings come from, you must look beyond the cost of using a bookkeeping service. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your overall costs of using a winery bookkeeping service.

 

Focus Your Efforts Where They Are Needed

As the owner of the winery, you likely handle many different aspects of running the business. This often includes many or all your financial tasks. If you had an expert to handle that work, you would be able to refocus your efforts on tasks that only you can do. By giving you back some time, you can focus on earning more income for your winery in that time. Bookkeeping is not something that requires your personal attention, but making major business decisions is.

You can also leave all the bill paying to your bookkeeper. It is often their responsibility to ensure that your bills get paid, accounts are billed, and payments are received on time. They then track these expenses and income, providing you with more accurate budgets and insight as to how financially healthy your winery is at all times.

 

Prevent Costly Mistakes

Bookkeeping mistakes, even those that may seem minor, can have a large impact on your business. These mistakes can result in lost income, missed opportunities to save money, or even fines. A professional bookkeeper can catch many of these mistakes and correct them before it is too late.

Your bookkeeper can prevent other mistakes as well. They will ensure that your bills and incoming invoices are paid promptly, which helps you avoid late fees and keeping your professional relationships intact. They will also carefully watch your budget, so you do not over-spend. A good bookkeeper will also make certain that all clients are invoiced correctly and keep on top of unpaid invoices.

 

Reduce Overhead

Finally, by hiring a bookkeeper, you may be able to reduce some of your overhead operating costs. These include costs such as:

  • Office supplies
  • Office furniture
  • Technology-related costs
  • Other expenses that are necessary to operate a business regardless of what industry that business is in.

According to Intuit, overhead costs should ideally make up less than 35% of your total costs. Bookkeepers typically have an understanding of what a reasonable cost is for these products and services. They may be able to identify areas where you are overspending and move you to a different vendor or renegotiate your contract. This is one area you may not have ever found the time to focus on, but a dedicated bookkeeper can.

 

Turn to Protea Financial to Get Help with Cutting Your Winery’s Expenses

Interested in learning more about how a winery bookkeeper can help you reduce your operating costs? Contact us here at Protea Financial today with your questions. We will gladly explain to you how we can help cut your costs and give you back time to focus on what you do best.