Is there a tax or other benefit to being a winery vs an alcohol manufacturer?
Winery advantages -> For $5/500gal, it allows you to manufacture, wholesale, and retail your own and other Missouri-produced wine. You also don't have to price post if you sell wholesale. Must use 85% Missouri-sourced ingredients. Can do free tastings, but cannot sell by-the-glass without additional $300 retail-by-drink license.
22% Manufacturer/Solicitor license -> $200/year. Can manufacture any alcohol containing less than 22% ABW. No restrictions on out-of-state ingredients. Need to obtain a 22% Wholesale/Solicitor license for another $200/year to sell wholesale. Must pay taxes on transfers from the Manufacturer to Wholesaler license, and then you need a separate retail license ($100) to sell to consumers. Must price post under these regulations, and must sell to retailers and yourself at the price posted. Cannot offer tasting without a $300 retail-by-drink license, and additional $200 fee to do tastings on Sunday.
So the 22% M/S license requires you to basically set up 3 different "entities", the manufacturer, the wholesaler, and the retailer, and you must pay to license all three of them. While I think you can set up all three under the same LLC, you have to treat them like three difference companies in terms of taxation. So you're taxed on every step of production. You also have 3x the paperwork to fill out for every step.
The total state cost of licensing the 22%M/S route would be about $1000/year. I haven't calculated the additional tax burden. It might not be much, or it might be a lot. The state cost for licensing the winery would be about $25 for my target production (2500 gallons/year). Once the winery was established, the fee difference wouldn't be that big, but in the first few years the licensing fees would really eat into whatever profits I might make.
The location I have is in a pretty high-traffic vacation area. I think I could sell most of my production on-premises and by mail order, which would mean much greater profits than trying to sell wholesale. I would need a much larger production to make wholesale production worth my time and effort.
I also have a bunch of Mennonite farms right around me that sell fruit and berries really cheaply, and a number of apiaries and honey wholesalers within an hour or so. I don't think I'll need to use more than 15% out-of-state ingredients for doing mead and fruit wine.