In vino paupertas
By STAFF Kate Ballen, John J. Curran, Alan Farnham, Stephen J. Madden, Patricia Sellers

(FORTUNE Magazine) – The number of bonded wineries in the U.S. has more than doubled, to over 1,400, in the past dozen years, partly because burned-out executives have been trading in the big-city life for pastoral toil in the vineyards. If you hanker to join the viticultural crowd, count on blowing $1 million or more before you sell the first bottle. A typical winery starts with 30 to 50 acres. Prime Napa and Sonoma county land is more than $20,000 an acre; on the North Fork of Long Island, the going rate is about $17,500 per acre; and in Vermont, orchard land fetches $4,500 an acre. But that's just the tip of the investment. Suppose you plan to make about 30,000 gallons of wine per year, the equivalent of 12,000 cases, a common amount for a new winery. Get ready to fork over roughly $320,000 for new equipment, including some $92,000 just for silolike stainless steel fermenting tanks and $50,000 for 60-gallon French oak aging barrels. A building to house everything can easily cost another $200,000. Planting a 50-acre vineyard takes about $500,000. You're already in for more than a million dollars, without crushing a grape. It gets worse. You can expect to sink about $200,000 per year into pruning, fertilizing, watering, and harvesting. Even if your chateau produces another Margaux, don't expect to get rich quick. According to security analysts at Hambrecht & Quist in San Francisco, the average winery takes ten years to make money. And don't count on your bank for help. Kirby Moulton, an expert on winery economics at the University of California at Berkeley, says so many vineyards went sour in the late 1970s that lenders are now ''extra cautious.'' Even so, the failure rate for new wineries is low, says Bill Moffett, publisher of Vineyard & Winery Management magazine. ''People tend to bring deep pockets to this business,'' he says.