Ask Wine Wizard

Transporting Wine

TroubleShooting

Bill LoPresti — Fountain Hills, Arizona asks,
Q

I recently moved from Ohio to Arizona and need to move my homemade wine. I have bottles in cases and 40+ gallons (150+ L) in 5-gallon (19-L) carboys. It will need temperature controlled shipping. I found a couple of transporters that specialize in wine transporting but are more for high end collections and are very expensive. As a home winemaker without a license, what options are out there?

A

When moving wine, the main thing to be concerned about is temperature change and since you’ve got carboys, spillage! For the first factor, any kind of moving truck where the back payload is not air-conditioned is an absolute no-go. Interior cargo temperatures can really swing wildly, especially depending on the time of year you move, and you want to make sure you are in complete control of the environment your wine gets shipped through. For this reason, using your buddy’s pickup truck is also a no-no.

Though you don’t mention the size of your cased wine collection, why not something like a U-Haul cargo van rental? The entire unit is enclosed and therefore the climate can be controlled. The vans are white which will provide extra help in controlling your temperature. Often times the floor is customizable and bench seats can be removed and inserted according to your needs.

To address the possibility of spilling your carboys — make sure that you are not transporting actively fermenting juice or must. Any kind of motion, exacerbated by a rise in temperature, can set off a fizzy carbon dioxide chain reaction of blown tops! If you are not fermenting and are all sulfured and buttoned up, your risks of spillage are a lot less. You need to make sure that the carboy tops are totally secured. Can you tape down your bungs really tightly? Even better would be to transport in kegs that have a metal clamp fitting on top. That way the tops are guaranteed to stay on and you’re not worried about breaking glass. If your carboys are glass, you need to guard against breakage. I would put a big sheet of plastic down in the van and at the very least wrap the carboys in towels or old blankets so they don’t jostle against each other or the sides of the van.

However you transport, do it gently and do it quickly. Like dogs or houseplants, don’t ever leave wine in a hot car with the AC turned off! Drive with a buddy so one of you can be in the van while the other goes and grabs coffee or takes a bathroom break. Try to avoid potholes and good luck!

However you transport, do it gently and do it quickly. Like dogs or houseplants, don’t ever leave wine in a hot car with the AC turned off!

Response by Alison Crowe.