|Page updated/verified: May 23, 2012
Winery & Brewery
Program Manager: Lucy Severs
Frequently Asked Questions about Winery & Brewery Processing
1. Do I need a license from the Department of Agriculture to open my business?
If you wish to produce only alcohol containing beverages, licensing for your facility is through the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLB). If you wish to make a soft drink type product in addition to the alcohol beverages, then a food processor license from the Department of Agriculture would be required for that product.
It is a condition of the license that you receive from WSLCB for the alcohol containing products that you maintain the sanitation standards of the Agriculture Department (WSDA). Because of this, it is best to consult WSDA standards when considering new construction or remodeling of your facility.
2. What is a properly constructed facility?
Insect and rodent proof construction materials such as concrete, brick, tile, and metal are best for basic construction. These materials require less maintenance than wood which can be attacked by molds and insects and create a harborage for rodents. When wood or masonry is used it must be sealed or painted to be impervious to moisture and easily cleanable.
Floors should be dense, impervious, readily cleanable, and suited to the proposed use and loading requirements. Floor cracks due to heavy loads have been identified as a sanitation concern. Preferred flooring materials are acid resistant concrete, epoxies, or materials of similar composition. Floors must slope with sufficient pitch to the drains to provide easy and rapid draining. There should be enough drains to easily carry off liquid from any point in the room. Rounded gutters are preferable to right angle corners but in any case, gutters must provide free drainage. Gutters which are in traffic areas or where they present a hazard should have perforated or grid covers of corrosion resistant material. Drains through outside walls and floors need to be screened to exclude rodents. If economically possible, air pressure is an effective tool for insect exclusion in a facility.
Avoid double or hollow walls and ceilings, or have each space tightly sealed. Accessible spaces between walls or ceilings make convenient harborage for insects and rodents. When insulation is used be careful to completely seal it into the wall or ceiling. Exposed insulation is a product contamination hazard as well as a pest attractant. Also avoid unnecessary recesses or ledges as they trap dirt and debris. Any ledges used should be beveled to allow dirt and wash water to slide off easily.
Ventilation is important for your facility. There should be good ventilation throughout to remove condensation and provide fresh air. Remember to always use adequate screens to exclude pests. Consider protecting the bottling room from dust and impurities by including a filtered air system in this area.
Lighting is another important issue. Covered or shatterproof lights are needed in areas where product might be exposed or over product additive storage areas. There are many different ways to accomplish this goal. Fluorescent lights for example are very popular. Ways to cover them include; a shield to cover the whole fixture; plastic tube covers with end caps; pre-coated shatterproof bulbs. All of these methods are perfectly acceptable. You may need help from a lighting supply store to determine the best shield for your particular light fixtures.
When constructing the various components of your facility, allow enough space for easy operation and look ahead to possible expansion as much as your budget will permit. The services of a professional with experience in constructing your type of facility can be very valuable.
3. What are the requirements for toilet facilities and hand sinks?
If your facility is very small, and adjacent to your home you may not have to install a separate toilet facility. To qualify for this exemption your home toilet room would need to be considered convenient to the facility and it would have to be a family only operation with no other employees. Proper hand wash basins do need to be provided in the facility even if your circumstances do not require a toilet room. You would need to install toilet facilities if you should add any non-family employees or offer tastings of your product at your facility. The toilet facility requirement for tastings is a County Health Department regulation.
When toilet facilities are required, there should be a sufficient number of toilet and wash rooms so they can be easily reached from every part of the facility. Toilet room doors need to fit snugly into the doorframe with minimal gaps. These toilet room doors also need to be equipped with a self-closing device. A simple spring or bungee cord may be used to accomplish the self-closing. . Toilet rooms need to be kept clean and supplies maintained. Frequency of cleaning depends on use and will vary with your production schedule.
Besides the toilet room hand basin, other hand wash stations need to be provided convenient to the operations of your facility. The number of these stations will vary depending on the size and layout of your business. Let common sense and an honest assessment of convenience to various operations be your guide in planning wash stations. Generally, one per work area or room is sufficient.
Hot or tempered water needs to be plumbed to all the hand wash basins and hand soap and single service or paper towels need to be provided. A sign to encourage employees to wash hands is required to be posted in the toilet room and can be obtained from the Department of Agriculture.
4. What are the requirements for my tasting room?
The requirements for your tasting room come from your local County Health Department. (Including requirements for toilet facilities even if you are not required to have one by our standards as discussed in question #3.) We ask that you refer to them if you intend to offer tastings of your product to the public. You can a find phone number for their office in the county section of your phone book.
5. How should I store my equipment and supplies?
To make operations more efficient, decrease the risk of product contamination, and prevent cluttering of the premises, plenty of space should be set aside for storage. It is best to keep frequently used equipment and supplies in a convenient storage space, separated from equipment used more rarely. Product transfer hoses should be stored up off the ground in a position to drain. Remove from the premises unnecessary old equipment that is no longer used. Old unused equipment often is a clutter and cleaning problem and can become a common site of facility rodent or insect infestation.
For equipment of potential multiple types of uses, it is often helpful to color code the equipment. An example might be making a food contact scoop one color and a waste scoop another color. The storage of these two pieces would be different as well. The food contact scoop should be stored up off the floor in a clean and protected location while the waste scoop could be left out on the floor where spillage is expected. The materials used for these two pieces could be different as well. The various brushes used and other clean up equipment may also benefit from color-coding.
Supplies of edible materials such as sugar, syrups, grains, and other foodstuffs, need to be in a rodent proof storeroom. Preferably these materials are kept in an insect and rodent proof container such as plastic with a tight fitting lid. This is a good storage scheme for various acid powders used as well as filtering agents. If kept in original bags be certain to protect contents by rolling the bags tightly when partially empty to help avoid contamination. Items stored should be kept up off the ground, perhaps on a rack or pallet and out from the walls to discourage rodent activity. Promptly clean up any spills. A hand vacuum can be a handy tool in this area.
Store herbicides, insecticides, chemicals and oils and greases in a separate location from each other (by type) and any foodstuffs. These materials don't necessarily need to have their own room but they need to be physically separated from each other to avoid any risk of contamination. All detergents, cleaning materials, bearing greases, boiler additives, etc., need to have labeling or a letter from the manufacturer stating approval by USDA or FDA as acceptable for use in a food processing plant.
6. Do I have to use stainless steel tanks or can I use plastic?
It is acceptable to use food grade plastic tanks for production of beer and wine. The fittings can also be food grade plastic if you wish. You might find stainless fittings to be more durable. Whichever material you choose, the use of threaded fittings is discouraged, as a buildup is known to occur in the threads of the fittings causing a cleaning problem. If threads are absolutely necessary, then sanitary square threads are best as they clean much better.
7. Do you have general machinery and equipment guidelines or suggestions?
Good sanitation requires that all machinery and equipment be kept clean and in good repair. Cleaning requirements change drastically depending on seasonal uses of equipment. As an example the winery crush equipment should be cleaned at least daily, and more often if there are delays in receiving fruit.
The food contact equipment can be constructed of different types of material depending on use. For example, food grade plastic shovels are needed for food contact, while a regular metal shovel can be used for waste. Again consider using color coding as mentioned earlier as a means to separate usage of equipment. This is especially effective for tubs or buckets used in the facility.
The overall equipment design must protect the product from contamination. An example would be any tanks used for outside fermentation must be constructed to protect the product inside from insect entry and damp or dusty weather. One piece of equipment needed to protect the contents of the tanks from contamination are plastic or stainless sanitary caps to put on the outside fittings of the valves when there is product in the tank. These caps are put in place to keep the valve bodies clean. These caps can also be helpful to prevent accidental loss or spillage of the product in the event the valve gets inadvertently turned open.
8. What are the cleaning requirements for my equipment?
When in daily use, the equipment needs to be thoroughly clean and sanitized at the start of each day. Winery crush equipment should at least be thoroughly rinsed at the end of each days use. The equipment then needs to be cleaned and sanitized prior to resuming receiving and crushing the fruit. Whenever an unusually long delay between equipment uses occurs the equipment should be accessed for cleanliness and cleaned if necessary, prior to using it again.
Wash sinks for the clean out of place equipment items are required. These sinks should be large enough to handle the biggest piece of equipment that must be hand cleaned. It is not required that these sinks be stainless steel they can be plastic. If plastic is used it must be suitable for the use. Typically the plastic laundry type basins are acceptable. Multiple sinks are needed to be able to wash, rinse and sanitize the equipment. These sinks can not double as hand basins.
Enough of the right kind of cleaning tools need to be on hand to handle any job that is necessary at any time, mops, rags, brooms, brushes, hoses, boots, refuse containers, wheelbarrows or carts and shovels may all be needed in and around the facility.
9. What kind of insect and rodent control can I use for my facility?
It is important to maintain the surroundings of your facility in a manner that does not inadvertently attract pests. Keep all vegetation out from the walls of your buildings at least three feet. This provides a clear area the pests are less willing to cross to enter your plant.
Any type of rodent trap can be used inside the facility. Poison baits are not allowed inside but are acceptable for use around the parameter of the property. Any traps used need to be checked regularly for activity.
Insects are often a problem for wineries and breweries, especially fruit flies. Insecticides can be effectively used in the facility provided all label directives are closely followed. It is very important to be sure all product, additives, and materials like filtering aids are protected from contamination and any equipment that might get sprayed is thoroughly cleaned before use.
Pests have been known to enter the premises with shipments of glass or other materials. Routine monitoring of the premises needs to be made regularly for signs of rodent pellets or other types of pest activity such as insect infestation. The consultation of a pest control professional can be very helpful should any infestation be discovered.
10. What sort of labeling is required for my finished product?
The Washington State Liquor Control Board and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are the regulatory authorities for the labeling of alcoholic beverages. You will need to contact your WSLCB representative for labeling requirements.
WSDA is the proper place to seek general labeling requirements should you decide to make a root beer or other soft drink. As mentioned earlier a WSDA Food Processors License would be required for these products. If you are interested is producing soft drinks a food processors information packet is available which answers typical questions about the requirements for this license.
|Contents copyright © 2009-13 WSDA Home | Comments | Contact | Directions | FAQs | Privacy | Tweets|