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A bottle of wine is one of the world's best souvenirs, but being a breakable bottle containing alcohol, getting it home is harder than other great souvenirs, such as jewelry or clothes. Luckily, wineries are happy to ship wine. Selling wine is their business and they have all of the systems in place to do it easily. Unfortunately, due to distribution agreements not every winery can ship to every state or country. Often, the biggest wineries with the largest distribution have the hardest time shipping, while smaller wineries that don’t have such expansive distribution agreements in place find it easy to ship you cases of their best.

 

Spend the Bucks, Save the Memories

Bad news first. Wines that are in distribution are not a better deal at the winery, because they will not compete with their retailers. Often you can buy those wines for less at a big box store at home because the chain stores discount. However, even the biggest wineries have small-production, special vineyard wines that are only available at the winery. Those are worth shipping, and often the winery can do it for you. Meanwhile, the great majority of small wineries have no distribution and only sell through their tasting room, subscription list or wine clubs. Their profit margins are small and discounts are rare, usually reserved for club members or the occasional case discount, if they like you.

 

There are states that are difficult to ship wine to, even when you are shipping your own wine to your home or office. Some states require an adult be there to receive it, others put up road blocks that defeat 90% of shippers. The secret is this, not all shippers have the same permits. If a shipper tells you they can't ship to your state, then ask them who can, or make some phone calls. If you are truly stymied, then take your wine on the plane with you. Read more about that below.  

 

Wine shipping is not cheap and you’re not saving money by sending it home. But that’s not the point. Vacations are about experiences and this is your chance to get the wine where it was made and enjoy at home, along with all those memories and stories you can share around the dining room table. The stories alone make the trip worth the price. We’ve never returned from a wine tour and thought, “We should have bought less wine.” 

 

To Ship or to Carry: Know the Transport Options

Smart wineries don't ship wine in hot weather because having their bottles baking in tractor trailers is not going to improve the flavor one bit. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you tour mid-summer, expect your wines in the cool days of fall. If you have to ship in the summer, purchase two-day shipping and equip the boxes with cool packs available from the shippers.

 

If you are not buying cases, but instead picking up bottles here and there, ask your hotel for a good local wine shipper. If time is short your hotel can arrange shipping, including the special boxes that come in both six and twelve packs. 

 

An alternative to shipping is taking your wine on the plane as checked luggage, using the padded cases available at wineries and shipping stores. This has the advantage of getting around any restrictive shipping regulations because you are carrying your own possessions personally, as if you were driving them in your car. The costs are also quite reasonable. Even though airlines charge for bags, a twelve-bottle case is only 40 pounds, well within the weight limit. The cost is usually substantially less than a shipper. It also arrives with you, after being exposed to less stress. But, remember about bottle shock! You've taken that lovely wine from its protected home at the winery and subjected it to the modern airport experience, so allow it a few weeks to get comfortable in its new home before you open it up and enjoy. It will make all the difference!

 

Ralph & Lahni de Amicis are authors of the Amicis Winery Guides, and owners of Amicis Tours. They have written over twenty books on health, design, business and travel. Their Smart Phone Apps, Napa Valley Wine Tour, and Sonoma Winery Tour are a tour guide's approach to these beautiful area, complete with thousands of photos, videos and insights. Visit them at http://www.amicistours.com

 


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