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NorCal Wine Blog

Shipping Wine

Honestly, shipping wine is a pain.

The laws regarding shipment of wine are complex and vary substantially from one state to another. This is due to the fact that, at the end of Prohibition, the federal government left it up to each state to determine their own liquor laws. First, it is illegal for individuals to ship wine anywhere in the country. Neither the U.S. Post Office nor the parcel companies, such as Fed Ex and UPS, will knowingly ship alcohol for an individual.


If you choose to try it anyway, the wine may or may not arrive at its destination. Of course, wineries and wine shops can ship wine. However, they cannot ship wine to all states. To sort out whether or not you can receive wine from them, you can ask the winery or shop. Or, you can visit this Wine Institute page that tries to sort out interstate wine shipping laws by state.

When it comes to physically carrying your own wine by plane, train or automobile, the laws again vary by state. In some places, it’s no problem. In others it may be or there are strict volume limits (ex. three gallons).

If you do transport wine, you want to make sure it arrives intact. There are special wine transport boxes with styrofoam inserts that will protect your bottles from both temperature changes and impact. Some wineries will have these available. They may also be available for purchase at some specialty packaging stores that sell items for people moving households.

There are also specially-made, leak-resistant, bubble wrap containers if you choose to put the wine in your suitcase or some more standard box. In a pinch, a plastic trash bag, some diligent wrapping with t-shirts and then careful packing has done the trick for us.

Finally, there are purpose-built wine suitcases. They are a lot like those fancy suitcases for camera equipment, but the foam inside the case has cut-outs shaped like wine bottles. Some of these cases even have wheels. Wine can get pretty heavy...

When it comes to taking wine with you on airplanes, it is no longer allowable to bring wine as carry-on baggage. That is due to anti-terrorism laws. However, you can bring it as checked luggage. If you plan to do that, just make sure it is packed very well.