After a few days of tasting your way through Sonoma County and buying the vintages you love, the next step is figuring out how to ship wine home.
Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. Sauvignon Blanc from Carneros. Pinot Noir or Chardonnay from Russian River Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. Pinot Grigio from Dry Creek Valley. Merlot from Sonoma Mountain. Each of these can represent fond memories of your Wine Country getaway — not to mention the promise of savoring and enjoying them in the future.
But first you need to transport your precious cargo undamaged, and with the least amount of effort and fuss. Follow these tips, and your wine will make it home safe and sound.
How to Pack Wine Bottles
The best way to ship wine depends on how the bottles are traveling. If you’re driving, you’ll want to guard against extreme temperature changes. Wine can be a bit like Goldilocks — one temperature is too hot, another is too cold. Make sure your wine stays “just right” by keeping bottles away from direct sunlight. Insulate them by wrapping them in your clothes. Travel with an insulated cooler and store them in there, and ensure the cooler is out of direct sunlight as you drive along; this will help keep the temps constant.
On planes, you can’t take wine with you in carry-on luggage. However, as part of Alaska Airlines’s mileage plan program, one carrier-approved packed case of wine flies free from Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS). Alaska offers direct daily flights to and from Burbank, Los Angeles, Orange County, Portland (Oregon), San Diego, and Seattle (Washington). Just be sure to follow the packing tips listed below.
Wine can also be packed in your checked luggage. But, international travelers should be aware of possible customs duty taxes that may apply when bringing, or importing, alcoholic beverages on flights.
The best way to pack a bottle to be transported in your luggage is to use a Wine Skin, which is sold at many winery gift shops. The bubble-wrap-lined bag fits snuggly over the bottle. It has a strong seal that ensures the wine won’t leak out of the packaging if the bottle does break.
If you don’t have a Wine Skin, pack the bottle in a waterproof bag. Then, wrap the bag with clothing or bubble wrap. If you have more than one bottle, make sure there’s padding between each one.
When using either of these methods, make sure to pack the bottles in the center of your luggage and cushion them with clothing. The bottoms and sides of your baggage may get banged around during handling.
If you’re a frequent flier to Wine Country, consider investing in the collapsible and reusable container known as the Wine Check. Pack up to a case of wine in the bag and check it as luggage, paying only the luggage fee. It even has rollers, so you don’t have to carry your case of wine. A fully loaded bag is under the airline’s 50-pound limit. It’s FAA approved and it ensures your wine arrives safely.
You can also ship wine using boxes designed to hold six or 12 bottles; the best ones have inserts that mold to the shape of bottles. These are sold at shipping-supply stores and most wineries, and can be checked as luggage. Assuming you aren’t paying high checked-luggage fees, this is the most economical way to carry more than a few bottles of wine home with you.
Fly With Wine sells the VinGarde Valise. This wine luggage is designed exclusively for safely shipping wine, with a 100% polycarbonate shell and is guaranteed to keep wine safe during travel. Their products conform to all applicable TSA, FAA, and airline luggage standards. In most cases, fully loaded with wine, it still weighs less than 50 lbs.
How to Ship Wine From California
Shipping is available in a variety of ways if you don’t want to bring your vino along with you as you travel. But first, check whether your home state permits wine shipments: a few don’t.
As long as shipping to your home or business is allowed, you can make arrangements at each winery. If you prefer to handle the details yourself or if you’re buying from several wineries and want to send only one shipment, there are many local and national shipping businesses available throughout Sonoma County.
Crown Wine Shipping will package and ship your wine to anywhere on the globe. They primarily use UPS as their national delivery service. Typical shipping options include next-day air, second-day air, three-day select, and ground shipping.
Specializing in wine shipping, Rabbit Hole Post can ensure your bottles stay safe during transportation. They offer both domestic and international shipping.
The Service Station offers packing and shipping using UPS, FedEx, USPS, and DHL, as well as licensed wine-shipping services to safely and securely package and ship Sonoma County wines nationwide.
Taking the right steps to figure out how to ship wine home safely will pay off when you sip and savor your delicious souvenirs, transporting you back to the highlights of your vacation.
Looking for more Wine Country tips? Check out the 7 Tips for Sonoma Wine Tasting!
Learn more about the 425+ wineries surrounding Sonoma County.
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