You’ve organized your Napa Valley or Sonoma wine tasting adventure and plan on picking up some amazing wines. Before you do though, it’s a good idea to consider how to safely get all that great wine home. So, here are some tips to care for and ship your wine home.

Don't Cook Your Wine

Napa Valley and Sonoma can get pretty hot, especially in the summertime. This isn’t the kind of heat that will burn you when you jump in the car, like some desert dwellers experience (grew up in Tucson, AZ), but it’s certainly hot enough to damage wine left in your vehicle on a hot day.

At about 83 °F (28 °C) the pressure inside your wine bottle can increase enough to unseat the cork. This means oxygen will be able to enter the bottle and oxygen is the enemy of wine you mean to keep. Also, who wants their wine leaking out of the bottle?

When the temperature gets up to 86 °F (30 °C) you can start to damage your wine in less than a day. The wines aroma will start to oxidize, the color will deteriorate, the amount of preserving sulphur will drop and you’ll have permanent damage to the wine. Bump that temperature over 100 °F (38 °C) and the damage occurs in a matter of hours.

Most of the time, the damage to the wine isn’t noticed until the bottle is opened. Then people are left wondering why they liked the wine so much at the winery but it doesn’t taste very good now.

Keeping Your Wine Cool

Thwart the Heat Miser and keep your wine a bit safer during your wine tour.

    • Take your wines with you when you’re tasting. If you’ve only purchased a few bottles, it won’t be too much work to take your wine into each winery when you taste. The winery will understand and it’s a great way to keep the wine out of the hot car.
    • Keep your wines in the passenger area of your car instead of the trunk. The passenger area has the benefit of air conditioning… your trunk, not so much.
    • Start your day with an insulated wine shipping box. If you plan on purchasing quite a bit of wine and want to check it as luggage or ship it home to yourself this is a great plan. Wine shipping boxes have styrofoam or cardboard insulation that can help maintain the temperature of your wine throughout the day.
    • Bring an ice chest to store your purchased wine in. When we take guests out on tours we bring an ice chest, with some ice packs, to store guests wine in.

Shipping Your Wine Home

You have three options when it comes to getting your treasure trove of wine home: you can take it with you on the plane, or car if you drove here, have the winery ship it or ship it to yourself at the end of your visit.

Take Them With You

If you only have a couple of bottles, you can get away with packing them in your suitcase. Be sure to safely wrap them so they don’t break, losing your wine and ruining your clothes. To make the journey home in your suitcase a bit safer for your wine bottles, you can put them in a WineSkin. You’ll be able to find these all over wine country and they add a nice layer of protection to your bottles and keep the wine contained should the bottle break.

If you’re flying, and can check an extra bag, you should consider putting your wine in a shipping box. Again, you can find shipping boxes all around wine country and this is very cost effective way to get cases of wine home.

Have The Winery Ship Your Wine

We’ve yet to find a winery that isn’t willing to ship your wine home to you although there are ever changing state regulations which may prohibit a winery from shipping to your state. If you live in a state the winery can ship to, this is a very convenient way to go. However, it can be the most expensive. Some wineries will offer deals on shipping cases so be sure to find out exactly what it’s going to cost. If you’re picking up a few bottles from different wineries and want to ship everything home, you’ll probably be better off shipping to yourself.

Ship The Wine Yourself

This is what we recommend most visitors do. It allows your to accumulate bottles during your trip and consolidate them into a single shipment. It also gets rid of dealing with extra boxes at the airport.

Most hotels in wine country have arrangements with third party shippers, making it pretty simple. Check with where you’re staying to see if they offer this service. If they do simply take your wine to the concierge or front desk before you leave, fill out the shipping forms, and you’re done.

There’s also some great shipping companies in Napa and Sonoma that you can stop into and ship your wine home. They’ll even offer weather dependent shipping to make sure your wine doesn’t cook. So, if you’re visiting in the summer months you can have your shipment delayed until the weather is cool enough for your wine to make the journey home without having to pay for overnight shipping, which gets expensive. In Napa, we’ve had great service from Buffalo’s Shipping Post and the Sonoma County website has a list of shipping companies you can use depending on where you’re at.

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