I leave this afternoon for a spa in the Tennessee mountains with two of my girlfriends. The Smoky Mountains are only about 5 hours from here, so it’s an easy, and pretty, drive through Kentucky and Tennessee. I’ll be taking a 1/2 case of wine with me, plus two bottles of bubbly. Because I’ll be getting there rather quickly, as far as travel is concerned, I can just put the wines in my backseat, most likely in a cooler. But it got me thinking about traveling with wine, and how much harder it’s become since last year.
Driving is obviously less of a problem than flying. Remember that if you’re on an overnight trip, bring the wines inside with you. You don’t want the bottles to bake in your car. If you’re crossing the border into Canada, don’t forget your passport! There are rules about the number of liters you can bring back into the US from those wonderful Canadian wineries (we love our Niagara). The wineries will be able to give you the exact regulations. They’ll also pack the wines for you if you ask.
Kevin & I tend to come back from Canada with at least a case,
well over our non-declarable limit. We have learned something though.
Keep your receipts and present them to Customs as you cross back into
the US. They have to do paperwork for each individual winery. Most
of the time, they don’t want to go through all that. They’ll check your
trunk, verify that it’s just wine, and let you go on through.
As for flying with wine, well, that’s a bit difficult. For years,
I’ve gotten away with one or two bottles in a plastic bag and then
wrapped securely in a lot of clothes, placed strategically in the
middle of my checked luggage. We did this even before the liquids ban,
as Kevin & I would have too much wine to manage in our carry-ons.
We learned that the UPS in Napa, next to the Marriott, will ship wines
home for you. However, they were incredibly slow and we were worried
that our wines had suffered heat damage. The FedEx Kinko’s in Napa
refused to ship wine home, and even had issues shipping home conference
materials (papers) sealed in a wine-related box.
Since last August, many wineries are more proactive about shipping
wines home for you and/or providing you with packing materials to store
the wines in your suitcase. If the winery doesn’t offer, just ask.
Generally, you can ship wine home (even to Kentucky and Ohio) if you
purchased it in person at the winery.
Of course, if you’re serious about flying with a large amount of
wine, you probably need a hard side suitcase and some styrofoam
containers. If you’re really serious, well, there’s the Wine Case,
an impact-resistant, temperature controlled suitcase specifically for
wine. It supposedly retails for around $400 or so. I wonder if it
breaks the 50 lb weight limit?
What are your tips for traveling with wine?
Travel safe. I may be vacationing for a few days, but the Friday
post is ready and waiting to go up. Your wine calendar doesn’t go on
vacation. See you Monday!
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