Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Getting Your Wine Home - Part 2

This past week, I took two groups to the Napa Valley who faced the challenge of getting their wine home. The first family was from Pennsylvania, a state to which very few wineries can ship. Since the family was not going directly home from San Francisco, taking their wine with them was not a good option. So we went to a shipping company that can ship wine to all states except Utah and New Hampshire. Given the warm weather back east, sending the wine by ground was not a good option. Air shipping was highly recommended. The prices ranged from $80/case for three-day delivery to $100/case for overnight delivery. In addition, my guests paid for a shipping container ($12) and insurance. All-in-all, an expensive proposition. (Had the temperatures been cooler, ground shipping was $40/case.)

Another group was from Texas, a state that most wineries can ship to. Temperatures were over 100 degrees back home, so the couple asked the winery to not ship their wine until the weather improved. This was no problem for the winery and arranging to get a half-case of wine back home was easy. The couple then proceeded to buy a couple more bottles at another winery. Shipping two bottles is not cost effective. We stopped by a shipping company and picked up a two-bottle shipping container. The wine could then be checked as baggage.

Fortunately, there are more states that wineries can ship to than they cannot. Shipping directly from the winery is usually cheaper, and certainly easier, than using a shipping company.

When you take a wine country tour with Blue Heron Custom Tours, I will gladly walk you through your options for getting your wine home. To book a private, custom tour in wine country, call (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Getting Your Wine Home - Part 1

With the new ban on liquids in carry-on items on airplanes, getting your wine home from the wineries is a bit more of a challenge. Previously it was easy to carry your wine purchases onto the airplane in a handy six-bottle carrier. Now this practice is forbidden.

If you live in one of the many states that permits you to ship your wine home from the winery, this remains an easy option. Shipping a case (12 bottles) home usually costs between $25 and $50. A note of caution: if you live in a state where summer temperatures get toasty, make sure your wine is shipped by overnight or two-day express or ask the winery to delay shipping the wine until later in the year when temperatures drop. Wine and excessive heat are a very bad combination.

If you live in a state where shipping wine home is prohibited or you want to bring the wine with you, you can check your wine as baggage in a styrofoam shipping container. These containers come in 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 15 bottle configurations at prices ranging from $2 - $20. Many wineries, such as Clos du Val and Nicholson Ranch, are stocking shipping containers and selling them at near cost.

Shipping services also sell containers. Fitch Mountain Packaging at 424 Center Street, Suite A, Healdsburg, is a quality service if you are visiting the Russian River, Dry Creek, and/or Alexander Valley. Call (707) 433-1247 to check their hours before you stop by. In the Napa Valley, Buffalo's Shipping Post at 2471 Solano Avenue in the city of Napa has a good supply of containers. Again, call them at (707) 226-7942. If you buy only a few bottles from each of the wineries you visit and want to combine them into one shipment home, both Fitch Mountain and Buffalo's provide shipping services. Both can ship to states that may be off limits to the wineries.

If you decide to check your container as baggage, fill the container as you travel from winery to winery and, at the end of the day, take it back to your hotel. Then write your name,address, and phone number on the outside and have the hotel or airline seal it for you. The styrofoam protects the wine while in the plane's baggage hold. Keep the container when you get home as the styrofoam insulates the wine from heat and cold. Just make sure you place the bottles on their sides or turn them upside down so the corks stay moist.

While it may be a little more difficult to get wine home, it can still be done with a fair amount of ease. So don't be discouraged from purchasing some of the tasty wines you enjoy while visiting wine country. If you would like to take a private, tour in Napa and/or Sonoma County, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Winetasting in the Anderson Valley

The most recent edition of "Rick's Tips," Blue Heron's free, quarterly newsletter of fun things to do in the Bay Area, includes an article on the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. To view this edition of "Rick's Tips" click here.

If you would like to visit the Anderson Valley, perhaps combining it with a visit to the beautiful Mendocino coast, I'd be happy to help you plan your vacation. Feel free to call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.