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How and why to buy used wine processing equipment

More than a few years back, when I was new to the equipment side of the wine industry and green, I dropped in on a noted winemaker and family friend, who had recently set up shop in Calistoga. While the winemaker was receptive to what I was selling and extremely interested, he made a remark which still stands with me today, “I don’t know how you new equipment guys stay in business with such great used equipment on the market.” Though it was early in the year, and he did not physically have any crush equipment at his facility, he had recently purchased a entire used crush pad which was soon to be delivered by a trusted contact. Though crestfallen that I would not be working with this family friend in a professional capacity any time soon, I realized that he may be on to something.

The quest for perfection drives elite wineries to replace equipment every 4 – 7 years. In addition, innovation from companies on the processing side has never been higher. As a winemaker or vintner, why not cherry pick the absolute best pieces from each manufacturer and create the highest quality processing line while saving 50% of the cost of new? A no brainer, right? Well, not so simple.

When buying used equipment, one must have the guidance of someone who understands their needs as a winemaker, process flow and plans for future growth. This “guide” must also understand the functionality of the equipment beyond theory or printed materials from the manufacturer. More than anything else, they must have laid their hands on the equipment, inspected every inch of it, actuated the equipment, asked the questions on service history and gained other important insight and intangibles. This is vital so that the buyer not only feels confident about their purchase, but also so their best interests are looked after, and the equipment performs for many years to come. The next time you are searching for used equipment, first make sure the person who is advising you can speak to best practices and has your best interests at heart. Focus on your winery, find a person who cares about your business, and let them do the work for you.