Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting Your Wine Home

I last wrote about getting your wine home from wine country in 2006.  Since that time, more states have changed their laws and permit wineries and businesses to directly ship wine to consumers.  Nevertheless, there are still states that make it difficult for their residents to get wines directly from the winery.  One of the best lists can be found on the Wine Institute's website

For those of you living in the states that make it difficult for wineries to ship your wine home, there are ways.  The cheapest and fastest way to get your wine home is to buy a shipping container (usually made of Styrofoam or egg-carton material) from a winery or a shipping company and then check the box as luggage.  The boxes are durable and breakage is extremely rare.  The cost is $10 for the box, which comes in a variety of sizes, plus the 2nd bag fee of your airline.  The total is usually less than $40; cheaper than the $45 - $90/case for shipping wine.  Plus you have your wine with you and don't need to worry about it traveling through hot or freezing weather.

If you prefer to send your wine home, there are shippers in both Napa and Sonoma Counties that can help you.  I have found that at least one shipper ships to every state.  So, if you live in a really restrictive state, such as Utah, Pennsylvania, or Massachusetts, be sure to call the shipper before taking your wine there.  If the first shipper can't help you, try another.

In the Napa Valley, I have had guests ship wine from Buffalo's Shipping Post and Stagecoach Express in the city of Napa and St. Helena Shipping Company in the northern end of the Valley.  If you are in the Alexander, Dry Creek, or Russian River Valley, you can visit Fitch Mountain Packaging, (707) 433-1247, or the UPS Store in Healdsburg.  If you are visiting Sonoma Valley, try Sonoma Shipping or the UPS Store in the town of Sonoma.  Before heading to any of these places, call to make sure they ship to your state and to check their hours.  Only Buffalo's is open on Sundays and some have limited hours on Saturdays.  

Some of these shippers will pick up your wine directly from the winery or your hotel.  Once you establish a relationship with a shipper, you can order wine from a winery, have the winery hold it for the shipper to pick up, and then have the shipper get your wine and send it to you. Even if you are not visiting wine country but want to get wine from a winery that cannot ship to your state, contact one of the shippers to see if they can help you.

Be sure to send your wine to an address where someone age 21 or over will be there to sign for the package.  UPS and FedEx cannot just leave the wine or have you sign a slip and leave it for them.  An adult must be physically present at the time of delivery.  Shipping rates are sometimes cheaper if you send your wine to a business address.

Hopefully, more states will make it easier for consumers to get wines directly from the wineries.  If you reside in a restrictive state and are interested in "freeing the grapes," contact the Wine Institute and your state legislators.

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