A Few Tips on Getting Your Wine from the Vineyard to Your CellarAs you travel this Spring and Summer, you may decide to travel along a wine trail. You can check out my article where I discuss Wine Trails for more info. It is one thing to travel on a wine trail buying along the way, here and there, and putting bottles into the back of your car, and driving back home and stocking your wine cellar. It is another thing to travel by air to a destination and try shipping your purchases back home so you can enjoy them.
If you are flying anywhere these days you need to know the new carry on restrictions imposed by the airlines. You may not be able to get more than three ounces of liquid through airport security. Before you travel by air to a wine region, you need to be sure that you will be able to get your cargo from the wine seller back to your wine cellar. You might be able to pack it carefully in your suitcase. You might not. You could have the vineyard ship it to your home, if you live in one of the states that allow wine shipments to residents. I would suggest that you go to Free The Grapes and see if you state will allow you to ship your wine home.
I was surprised to see how many states do not allow shipping. The number of states that do allow shipping wine is going up thanks to the “Free the Grapes” movement. The website above has a tool that will allow you to contact your state legislators to let them know that you want the wine shipping ban removed. If you live in Maryland for example, you might be interested in going to this website Maryland asks voters to support the wine bill .
So you can’t ship the wine back to your state? And you can’t carry on more than 3 oz. with the carry on liquid restrictions. Now what? There are foam shipping containers that you could buy. The problem with this method is that you have to plan in advance that this is what you want to do. You need to check out a foam manufacturer like Wine Shippers . I like this company because they sell the foam and the box together. The problem I see is that you will have to ship the foam box from the manufacturer to your house and for one 12 bottle case or a 24 bottle case, shipping the empty case to your home, might be a little pricey. Then you need to check the empty box with your luggage on the flight to the wine trail destination. Then you will need to fill the box at all of your stops and check it at the airline counter with your luggage when you leave. I don’t know about you, but it sounds involved.
There might be another solution. If you know the wineries you will be visiting on the wine trail, call them and ask if they ship purchases. They probably do. So ask if they use a method like the Wine Shippers website above. If they do, then all you need do is to buy the wine at the winery, buy their packing box with the foam insert and check the box full of wine with your luggage at the airline counter when you go home. This way you have eliminated half of the hassle factor.
The last alternative is one you might consider if you go traveling along wine trails on a regular basis. You might consider buying a piece of luggage with a handle and wheels. Get some high density foam to pack around the outer sides of the luggage and making your own portable wine case that you can use time and time again. Since it has wheels and a handle, it will make getting there and back a lot easier. It will also make getting from the airport to your car easier on the return trip. You need to be sure that your rolling wine case is going to be within the airline size and weight guidelines for luggage.
One more thing I should mention. I have found that the prices for California wines at my local wine store were often times less than they were at the vineyard retail store in California. This is a moving target with the prices of gas and diesel changing weekly. Check your local store for prices before you leave town and ask your retailer for the case price. Then you are comparing apples to apples. You may find that the local price is better than the vineyard price when you factor in schlepping around all of your boxes or empty suitcases.
There are a lot of boutique wineries in California that do not have national distribution and sell solely from their vineyard retail store. I have found some excellent wines this way and for me, it is worth the hassle factor. I also live in a free state, and have no wine shipping restrictions to ship wine home. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself.
Whatever method you decide works for you, once your wine arrives home, and you have it tucked in your wine cellar let it sit for at least five – preferably seven - days before you pop the cork. All of the rocking and rolling of travel is unsettling for the wine and it will be better if you let it rest after the journey home.
Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
Oh - have you signed up for our Wine Newsletter? You can check out the newsletter article on the main page of the wine website.
Jim Fortune - Bella Online Wine Guy