Tech CU Funds Winery with SBA Loan
A member of Technology Credit Union will be able to realize his dream of buying vineyards and a winery thanks to $1.4 million SBA loan from the cooperative.
Launched by Paul Scotto, Sera Fina Cellars in Plymouth, Calif., will also use the loan proceeds for a tasting room, according to the $1.8 billion Tech CU in San Jose, Calif.
Brian Evans, vice president and SBA business development officer at the credit union, acknowledged that wineries find it challenging to get the funds to grow their businesses.
“A lot of banks have tightened their underwriting requirements and some have even gotten out of the wine business altogether,” said Evans. “Traditional lending options, therefore, may not always be possible for wineries. SBA loans are another option because they’re government-guaranteed.”
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Through its SBA loan program, Tech CU can help emerging and established wineries with funding for the purchase or refinance of real estate, construction, vineyard development or equipment acquisition and leasing, according to Evans.
The credit union said it offers SBA loans ranging from $25,000 to $5 million, and as a lender in the agency’s preferred lender program, Tech CU can streamline the SBA application process for a qualified applicant, reducing the time between a loan request and funding.
“We guide businesses through the process of getting an SBA loan, and help determine what program they qualify for,” Evans explained. “For example, we were able to finance Sera Fina under the SBA’s International Trade Loan Program due to the fact that the winery exports some of its products.”
Meanwhile, Sera Fina Cellars is the realization of fifth-generation winemaker Scotto’s lifelong dream of starting his own winery, according to Tech CU.
He learned the tradition of winemaking from his family, particularly through his grandfather, Anthony Scotto Sr., who founded Villa Armando winery and was a California wine pioneer, the credit union said. Scotto also studied winemaking at the University of California-Davis’ Viticulture and Enology program.
“Even with my family’s pedigree, we’re still considered a young winery, and that makes it more challenging to find the right lending partner because most will only consider requests from older wineries that are well-established,” said Scotto.
He added, “It was great to find Tech CU. Brian worked with us and took the time to understand our business so he could match us with the right SBA program. Ultimately, that meant getting us funded and able to purchase the land and property for our vineyards and winery. It’s been a life changer.”