Make a note of that
It's the end of the year.
You have accumulated 12 months worth of wine sales, grape purchases, bottling and production costs. You've tracked winemaker dinners in New York, lunches in Chicago, and breakfasts in Bordeaux. You've bought enough staples to last you a year or two, and have even replenished all of your sticky note supplies. Now it's time to send off your QuickBooks backup (see our suggested approach to sharing your data) to your favorite accountants.
Accountant or Sherlock Holmes?
Once we receive that file, we open up your general ledger and start reviewing your expenditures. We look at your journal entries for clues as to why you wrote off that $100,000 worth of inventory at the end of the year. We try to determine if that $5,000 lunch in New York was for one employee or for 10 salesmen during a business meeting. (It makes a difference in their deductibility for tax purposes.) If you haven't made use of those handy comment fields that are located throughout QuickBooks, we may not be able to determine if you bought Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir grapes for that $3,000/ton purchase that was recorded on January 30th. We will be unable to tell why your tasting room inventory was adjusted down each month or how much wine you donated. And worse, from a tax deductibility standpoint, we won't know if you donated that mysterious wine to the Friends of the Narwhal Society (which is not on the list of approved charities) or to The American Red Cross unless you have documented that fact somewhere.
Take the mystery out of your numbers
Take full advantage of the memo field when you make journal entries of any kind. Not only will they help your friendly neighborhood accountant at the end of the year, your notes will also help you remember how you treated different transactions so you can repeat those entries in future periods. Without notes, what made perfect sense at the time you entered an adjustment may not mean as much by the end of the year or three years later when you sit down to talk to the IRS auditor.
Here is some information you might want to record along with transactions you enter in your accounting software:
1. Grape purchases: record variety of grapes, tonnage, vineyard if applicable
2. Bulk wine purchases or sales: varietal, gallons, vintage
3. Bottling supplies: number of cases purchased, which product
4. Fixed asset purchases: quantity, new or used
5. Partial payments on grape sales/purchases: indicate the % paid and vintage purchased
When it comes to documenting transactions, the more information you can provide at the time of entry, the better.