New Program Helps Michigan Wineries Compare Data, Assess Finances

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A new, locally produced database program now available for Michigan vineyard owners and managers, is designed to help them to understand their position in the marketplace, provide insight into industry trends, and assess financial decisions.

“As the fourth largest producer of grapes in the nation, it’s time for Michigan winery owners, the investment community, and the industry at-large to have access to Michigan specific data to help best understand the industry and help it grow,” says Tyson Lemon, a vice president for East Lansing-based GreenStone Farm Credit Services. The organization partnered with Traverse City-based North Coast Ag Advisors and Farm Credit East to launch the program.

To participate, wineries must provide accurate financial data about their business, to analyzed and determine financial ratios, operating efficiency, and other key performance indicators. All information is held in confidence. The data from all program participants is then gathered together to produce an annual industry report. An annual conference is then held to share the findings, followed-up with one-on-one consultations with each winery.

“The information in the annual report and the individualized follow-up analysis is not easy for the average winery owner to obtain,” says Jim Casler, president of North Coast Ag Advisors. “Since most of the 100-plus wineries in Michigan are privately owned, the information just isn’t out there like it would be if they were all public companies.”

Casler says the Michigan Winery Benchmark Program will continue for a minimum of three years, with a goal to attract at least a 20 percent participation rate of all eligible wineries and vineyards.

Linda Jones, executive director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, says the report is needed. “Our office must receive at least half a dozen inquiries a year for this kind of information,” she says. “I am guessing that several of Michigan’s winery and vineyard owners will take advantage of this program.”

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