From counting your inventory of grapes after harvest to planning your batches, bottling or kegging the wine, and selling it to retail or wholesale customers, there’s a lot to keep track of when you run a winemaking business.
If you’re looking for a way to save time and make more wine, you might be considering investing in winery management software. It’s a smart move — software can help you automate many of the processes you’re currently doing manually and provide valuable insights into your business that would not otherwise be obvious. But how do you choose the right product?
This post will break down some of the most important features of winery management software. Let’s dive in.
A Quick Note About ERP Systems
The traditional “ERP” (enterprise resource management) systems out there claim to work for any business. The problem is that many of the companies that make ERP systems are giant corporate entities, so it can be difficult to get personalized customer service or tailor the product to your needs if it doesn’t quite do everything you need it to (and good luck getting any of your feature suggestions turned into reality). Traditional ERP systems also tend to be prohibitively expensive for small- to mid-sized wineries, so if you fall into one of those categories, another option might be more appropriate.
Look for These Features When Choosing Software for Your Winery
Any winery management software worth its salt will include these important components:
1. Comprehensive winery inventory management
Are you counting grapes by hand and entering your totals into a spreadsheet to keep track — or, even worse, writing them on a clipboard or in a binder? How do you decide when to order more bottles or other packaging equipment for the batches you have in progress? Do you just guess? Software can help you keep track of your inventory, automatically depleting your resources when you use them in batches or for packaging and letting you know when your supplies are getting low.
2. Overview of the production process from start to finish
“When did we start fermenting those Pinot Noir grapes? Have we pressed the Chardonnay grapes that came in yesterday? How many batches are in progress, and when should they be completed?” Winery software should help you answer questions like these easily by giving you a view of your facility (based on the actual layout of your production area) and providing simple ways to check on what is in each vat, what needs to be packaged, and what has been moved to storage or your tasting room at any given time.
3. Easy generation of Report of Wine Premises Operations and assistance with other compliance requirements
Managing the day-to-day operation of your winery might be smooth sailing for seasoned winemakers, but gathering data for TTB reporting is a nightmare for just about everyone, no matter how many years you’ve been doing it. One of the best features of winery software from an owner’s perspective is the ability to funnel your business’s data into the reports you need to send to the government on a monthly or quarterly basis. If the software you’re looking at doesn’t have this feature, move on.
4. A sales portal for viewing the pipeline, sending invoices, and checking in on leads
This will be most important for wineries that partner with distributors (or self-distribute) to sell their wine to local stores. Maybe you even sell kegs of your wine to local bars so they can offer it to customers on tap. No matter what you’re looking to keep track of, the winery software you choose should offer functionality that allows you to send and receive invoices, create inventory receipts, and keep track of vendor and supplier information all in one place.
5. A CRM hub that displays customer contact information and order history
Again, if you sell or distribute outside of an on-site tasting room, this one is key. You should be able to keep an eye on pending deliveries, order updates, and customer payment activity. Ideally, your sales team will be able to enter in any updates directly into the system wherever they are — on the road or in the office — so the information is always up to date.
6. The ability to create accounting journal entries and sync with major accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero
This is perhaps the biggest time-saver of all. It can take a little work to get the system set up properly, but once it is, all your inventory, sales, and purchasing activity will be synced with your accounting software so you enter it one place and automatically have the information you need for end-of-month reporting. Your bookkeeper or CPA will thank you.
7. Cloud-based apps for any device so your team can use the winery software from anywhere
This is another major one. What if your head winemaker wants to make a note about one of the batches after inspecting it, but they have to walk all the way back to the office desktop and log in in order to do that? Chances are, they’ll get distracted by another important task before they make it to the computer. The winery software you choose should be cloud-based so you can use it from your iPhone, Android phone, tablet, or computer no matter where you are.
8. Unlimited users and unlimited customer support for no extra cost
Finally, you should be able to have logins for as many users as you need without having to pay per user. If you’re new to business management software, this might sound crazy — you really have to pay per user to use some of these services? Sadly, yes, and it can get pretty pricey if your team is bigger than a handful of people. But any decent company offering winery management software will rely on a great product—not charging outrageous fees — to earn and retain customers. You should also check to see if customer support is included in your monthly subscription so you can get help if something goes wrong.
How Do You Find Software With All These Features?
This part is easy — choose Ekos. At Ekos, we are committed to helping craft winemakers in the U.S. and around the world make more wine with intuitive business management tools. Our proprietary winery management software, Ekos Winemaker, offers everything we mentioned above in one easy-to-use system — and unlike traditional ERP systems, it’s tailored to the needs of winemakers. Each registered user on your team gets their own custom dashboard based on their specific role in your winery, from management to sales, inventory, production, and beyond. We work with you directly to get your team set up and ensure you feel comfortable using Ekos as part of your daily routine. Plus, with unlimited customer support and an expansive Knowledge Base filled with helpful instructional resources, we’re always here to help.