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Getting wine home from Napa area?

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lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 07:04 AM

I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for getting wine home from Napa Valley, given the new airline baggage fees and carry-on restrictions. Is it best to have it shipped? If so, who would you use?

I anticipate having 2-3 cases, and the last day of our trip will be up in Calistoga, so any suggestions up that way would be particularly helpful.

Thanks!

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    bubbles4me RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 07:26 AM

    I think the best way to go is to have the wineries ship for you. I work for a retail wine store in Southern California and last I heard UPS & FEDEX stopped shipping wine or any alcohol for that matter for people without a liquor licence. I cant tell you how many times we have had to ship for people in just your situation, went on vacation and then were running around trying to find a way to get their wine home, you are smart to do the research ahead of time! You might also check with a retailer in Napa and see if they offer shipping services.
    Good luck and have fun!

    1. Carrie 218 RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 07:40 AM

      Your best bet in the Napa area is Buffalo Shipping. They have a license which allows them to ship to all fifty states -- something that even some wineries are not allowed to do.

      Your biggest headache is going to be the fact that it is summer: Most die-hard wine fans absolutely, positively will NOT ship wines during hot summer months because of the potential for damage. Wine that is shipped sits in the back of UPS or FedEx trucks which can suffer temperatures in excess of hundreds of degrees which will cook the wine. Most wineries stop shipping as early as March or April and won't start again until late October or November.

      Sorry, Bubbles -- FedEx and UPS still DO ship wines, but they have to go to locations with a verified adult showing an identification.

      Honestly, Lirhughe, your best bet is to pair it down to just two cases and bring them home with you in the hefty, styrofoam packers that are available. Label them VERY clearly as being wine and with glass and entrust them to the airline. Better -- I think -- than having them shipped during the summer months and getting baked.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Carrie 218
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        bubbles4me RE: Carrie 218 Jul 9, 2008 07:56 AM

        Wonder if it is just in our area then? I sell shippers to people all the time so they can ship via UPS or FEDEX and they come back everytime and we have to ship for them....we have the adult signature required as well. I will have to do more research.....

        1. re: bubbles4me
          Carrie 218 RE: bubbles4me Jul 9, 2008 08:03 AM

          The SHIPPER has to have a special Federal license to ship via FedEx and UPS. John-Q-Public can't ship wine themselves and it may be that your store does not have the proper licensing. That is why companies like Buffalo have such a great business. There is also MANY limitations on which states you can ship to.

          1. re: Carrie 218
            Xiao Yang RE: Carrie 218 Jul 9, 2008 08:22 AM

            There are no federal licenses or laws related to interstate shipping of wine, only state laws (most of which have been neutered by a Supreme Court decision). I once checked with BATF on this very point, and was advised that the Fed's only interest is that federal taxes are paid at the point of sale.

          2. re: bubbles4me
            Midlife RE: bubbles4me Jul 10, 2008 01:25 PM

            These responses are all very interesting. As a California wine retailer I can definitely corroborate that FedEx, UPS and DHL will NOT accept wine shipments from someone who is not properly licensed by the STATE to sell wine (assuming you declare it as such. We can only ship to around 30 states and many of those have cumbersome licensinga nd documentation requirements. If Buffalo's Shipping Post is shipping to states where regular shops or wineries can't ship to individuals, they must have some intermediary licensed business to whom they ship in those states.

            Another thing to know is that the carriers charge $3.50 PER CARTON for checking the over-21 ID on delivery. That is generally passed along to you by the licensed shipper. I once asked FedEx and was told that they can't guarantee that all cartons will be delivered at the same time so, rather than risk NOT getting proper ID on ANY carton, they charge the fee for EVERY carton (regardless of whether they are delivered together or not). We can thank our state legislatures for all this fun. The aside to this is that several states are now passing laws prohibiting out-of-state wine shipments in to individuals, partly on the basis of legislative concern that under-age drinkers are able to get wine illegally via the internet. So....... You pay $3.50 per carton for a service that many legislatures are convinced doesn't work. Gotta love this stuff. :o[]

          3. re: Carrie 218
            Xiao Yang RE: Carrie 218 Jul 9, 2008 08:13 AM

            According to Buffalo's Shipping Post's own web site, they do not ship to Utah or New Hampshire, and do require the signature of a qualified adult at the receiving end.

            http://buffalo.winecountrywebs.com/sh...

            1. re: Xiao Yang
              Carrie 218 RE: Xiao Yang Jul 9, 2008 08:16 AM

              Thanks for the correction. It used to be different but with the laws changing every two minutes, I'm not surprised.

            2. re: Carrie 218
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              bulavinaka RE: Carrie 218 Jul 10, 2008 08:10 PM

              Fedex and UPS will ship wine but it must be from a licensed retailer to an individual, or individual to licensed retailer... Don't ask me why - it's some corny Alcohol Wine & Tabacco law...

              The OP should bite the bullet and either do as you say - and hope the ramp gorillas respect the markings on the check-in luggage - or have the winery send it for next day delivery via Fedex or UPS. I have had the experience with some reputable merchants who will cool off the wine to about 45- 50 degrees, pack it in the styrofoam cases, then pack it in a box, ship it overnight. The wines have always arrived cold to the touch and so far not one broken bottle.

              1. re: bulavinaka
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                bulavinaka RE: bulavinaka Jul 10, 2008 08:15 PM

                Sorry - that's Alcohol Tabacco & Firearms - I'm drinking the Wine right now...

            3. lexdevil RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 08:28 AM

              I usually bring back a case of Scotch from the UK each summer and have never had problems. The airline will take it as checked baggage so long as it is properly packed. They have been known to reject the odd bottle in the regular luggage unless it is packed in a mailer within the luggage.

              Check your airline's weight restrictions for domestic travel. Most are at 50 lbs. per bag, with high fees for going over. A single bottle of wine is around 2.5 lbs. Weigh before you check!

              Now that many airlines are charging for bags, you may want to consider shipping instead. The first and second bags are usually $15 and $25 (less than shipping by UPS or Fed Ex), but bag #3 is often $75-100. Eek! If you're already checking luggage, this could get expensive. It is also possible that the wineries you visit get better shipping rates than you would as an individual.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lexdevil
                Xiao Yang RE: lexdevil Jul 9, 2008 08:47 AM

                Virgin America has a 70 lb. limit and haven't yet started charging for the first checked bag, but of course they serve a very limited set of destinations.

                1. re: lexdevil
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                  BN1 RE: lexdevil Jul 9, 2008 09:41 AM

                  I believe that $75-$100 is still cheap compared to shipping from Europe. You would have to use some form of priority shipping to get a case of wine over in good shape. I hope I’m wrong, so does anyone have actual experience?

                  1. re: BN1
                    lexdevil RE: BN1 Jul 9, 2008 11:40 AM

                    Absolutely, but I'm guessing the OP would be shipping w/in the US.

                2. maria lorraine RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 10:56 AM

                  Carrie 218 has really answered your question. The styrofoam shippers are the way to go, and either ship them (through the winery or through Buffalo Shipping) or check them as luggage and pay the extra cost. That's what I'd do. The summer heat is a factor.

                  Lots more posts about this on the Wine Board, including a current one:
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448446

                  1. Chuckles the Clone RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 11:27 AM

                    Have you considered taking the wine on the plane with you and shipping all your other baggage back some other way? Greyhound will ship 50 pounds of stuff from San Francisco to New York in three days for $56, for example.
                    http://www.shipgreyhound.com/scripts/...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                      Carrie 218 RE: Chuckles the Clone Jul 9, 2008 11:56 AM

                      Chuckles might have hit on the best solution!

                    2. waitress RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 05:53 PM

                      I use a wine trolley that I bought on line. Love it!! it holds 12 bottles of wine, looks like a suitcase with wheels no less!! No hazzards yet, it has survived Italy and Washington state.

                      http://stage.iwawholesale.optimumretu...

                      I do stuff dirty clothes in it, just to be safe..
                      About shipping or airlines, I would ask the airlines how much are the extra baggage fees, these days it might be cheaper than shipping, because a case of wine is so heavy. Have fun!!!!!! But also think of lugging all that around, shipping might be the way to go, even if it is more money..

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: waitress
                        maria lorraine RE: waitress Jul 9, 2008 06:04 PM

                        Your suggestion on getting a quote is a good one. Compare the quotes from the airline and Buffalo Shipping, the company Carrie 218 recommends above.

                        http://buffalo.winecountrywebs.com/

                        BTW, a case of wine weighs about 48 pounds, more for sparkling/special bottles.

                        Love the trolley idea, but it won't work for the OP's 2-3 cases of wine.

                      2. babette feasts RE: lirhughe Jul 9, 2008 08:29 PM

                        Also check that wine can be shipped to your state. There are some states that don't allow it or have restrictions.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: babette feasts
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                          Janet RE: babette feasts Jul 10, 2008 02:31 PM

                          Many people from restricted states ship wine home, not marked as wine. Very often our house guests pack a box of "stuff" and take it to UPS. Not legal, but lots of people do this. I have heard staff at wineries tell tourists to do this.

                          1. re: Janet
                            Carrie 218 RE: Janet Jul 10, 2008 03:29 PM

                            Or it is shipped as "Olive Oil."

                            ~ And sorry for screwing up the Fed/State thing... I should know better; I WORKED for the A.B.C.! ~

                            1. re: Carrie 218
                              Chuckles the Clone RE: Carrie 218 Jul 10, 2008 11:08 PM

                              When I was all caught up in the homebrew thing, we would ship our
                              inventions to people in other states marked "Food In Glass". At the
                              time, ten or so years ago, that was officially the way to go, and as
                              far as I recall, perfectly legal. I have no idea what the current situation
                              is, but maybe checking with the hop heads over on the beer board
                              would turn up a suggestion or two?

                        2. f
                          FlyerFan RE: lirhughe Jul 10, 2008 07:42 PM

                          We used Stagecoach Express after our last trip - they did a great job and the prices were quite reasonable (especially compared to FedEx and UPS, which seemed to attach a "Napa Premium" charge to their normal prices)

                          http://www.stagecoachexpress.com/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: FlyerFan
                            maria lorraine RE: FlyerFan Jul 10, 2008 11:26 PM

                            Stagecoach is very good, too.

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