When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I used to hear the same joke about wine making all the time.
Did you hear about the person who made a small fortune in the wine making business? Answer: by investing a large fortune first.
Chucking it all to run that quaint little winery up in Napa is right up there with that fantasy to chuck it all and run that quaint little B&B in Vermont making muffins and turning down beds for German tourists.
Conventional wisdom says go for the B&B. You may go broke. But, you won't go bankrupt.
Now you can live the fantasy, without buying a winery in Napa. Thanks to technology, you can become an online vintner.
Through CrushPad, a wannabe wine maker can be as involved or uninvolved in the process as he or she wants to be. CrushPad, located in San Francisco, brings in the grapes, crushes them (of course) and executes the whole winemaking process. You, the wannabe, can armchair quarterback the whole process; selecting the varietals of grapes, which vineyards they come from, how long to let them age, etc.
CrushPad brings its clients into the process through web cams, e-mail updates, even collaborating with Google calendars to loop- in customers at thirty different points of decision-making in creating their own unique wine.
While much cheaper than buying a winery, it's still a pricey venture. Making one barrel starts at about $5700. This is something you might want to consider partnering up with your other wine buddies. There should be plenty to go around. One barrel makes about 24 cases.
I'll do the fast math for you. That's about $20 a bottle.