From jazz lounges to wine bars, the wine industry in Australia has been growing, driven by consumer trends towards premium food and wine. Over the next five years, it is forecasted that the industry will grow at 2.5% to total $952.3 million in Australia. With more increasingly sophisticated and well-informed consumers, there is an expectation that wine bars deliver a product and service well above traditional establishments such as local pubs and bars. Responding to such competitive pressures from other hospitality establishments will be essential for any wine bar to thrive. This article sets out factors to consider if opening a wine bar in Australia.

Business Structure for a Wine Bar

Before you welcome your first wine-savvy, fine-dining enthusiast through your door, consider your wine bar’s business structure. Whether it is a partnership or a proprietary company, the business structure is one of the most important legal considerations as it sets out your business’ ownership, as well as tax obligations and liability. If you are starting a wine bar with friends, you should come to an agreement and have the necessary legal documents drafted to reflect your business structure. For example, a partnership requires a Partnership Agreement. A verbal agreement or a few loose emails will not protect you as well as a well-drafted contract if disputes arise.

Liquor Retailing Licences

Acquiring a liquor licence is often a significant barrier to entry for many potential business owners looking to break into the industry. There are a number of factors that permit the issuing of a liquor licence, including the scale, scope and main operations of the business. Each state has its own regulations and government issuing body for liquor licences. Also, if you provide services other than on-premises consumption, such as takeaway or BYO, a different licence will be issued. If you plan to extend opening hours, be prepared to pay more.

As a business owner, you must also ensure your employees hold a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, known as an RSA. An RSA certificate is issued after attending an RSA course, which differs from state to state. Wine bars are not permitted to sell alcohol to customers under 18 nor are intoxicated.

Leasing

Although some wine bar operators choose to purchase their premises upfront, most operators choose to lease their commercial premises. Choosing to lease a premises means reduced initial capital investment for business owners. From a converted warehouse to a trendy inner-city location, securing a lease can be difficult. Ensure a leasing lawyer reviews your leasing contract. Clauses such as rent review and rent renewal can be detrimental to your business if drafted not in a favourable manner.

Key Takeaways

This article has set out some of the unique considerations for business owners interested in starting a wine bar in Australia. Real household discretionary income increases, coupled with rising demand from liquor retailing, will show good signs of growth for the industry. If you have any questions about setting up a wine bar, including employment matters or exporting wine, get in touch on 1300 544 755.

Anthony Lieu

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