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The opportunity to taste and buy the wine you are so proud of is not the only reason people come to your winery. They want to experience where the grapes are grown and the wine is made; they are looking for that emotional connection with you, your product and your lifestyle. With the increase in agri-tourism, more and more customers expect your winery to offer additional attractions. These ventures are also an important component of your wine’s brand recognition, as they will help differentiate your winery and generate more profits.
Agri-tourism activities add value to your winery. Beyond the expected wine tour and wine tasting, they can involve a wide variety of activities and products that can increase your profits, such as giftshops, restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, weekend workshops, bicycle rentals, pony rides and petting zoos, flowers, baked goods and cheeses.
Before deciding to enhance your winery with a new enterprise, you need to ensure you have a plan that will be profitable and will fit your family’s goals and lifestyle.
WHERE TO START
Setting Your Goal
Your first step in developing a plan should be to ask yourself whether branching out will enhance or detract from your goals. Key questions to ask yourself include: Is my goal to increase profits? Will this activity build up my wine’s brand recognition? Promote other products or services? Share my values with others? Develop a business my family is involved in and can be handed over to my kids? How you answer these questions will play a big role in helping to determine whether a new venture would be right for you.
Researching Your Market and Budgeting
In addition to establishing goals, you need to complete sound market research and financial budgeting. Is there a demand for the type of experience you are going to offer? Will you have competitors in the region? What will make your venture more attractive than your competitors? How much will it cost to implement? What are your expected returns? What is your model for success – do you want to create a “Napa Valley of the North” or a more informal experience?
Along with these questions, you will also need to consider a wide range of management issues that will impact the success of your enterprise. These include:
While agri-tourism offers wineries a unique way to attract more people and expand your business, you need to determine what type of enterprise you would like to offer – and whether it’s the right fit with where you and your family are at today and where you want to be tomorrow.
This strategic decision means taking the guesswork out of this process; it’s too important a task to rely on a hunch. Also keep in mind that you may need outside advisors to assist with this enterprise analysis, so that your agri-tourism plan can be as good as your wine. As Shakespeare said, “Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used.”
By Andrew J. Raphael, Director of Agri-Food. For more information, please contact your local MNP advisor or Andrew at 1.877.688.8408.
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