Shipping Homemade Wine: We did it!

Shipping homemade wine is legal in the US, except via the Post Office (yes, I know how silly that sounds), but the policies of the various shipping companies are confusing. Mind numbingly specific and frustratingly vague at the same time, they seem to add up to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. To sort this out, I teamed up with a reader and tried it out. He sent me two bottles of wine, and they arrived without a hitch. I sent back two bottles of my mead, and UPS delivered them promptly and efficiently.

I’ve heard stories of people fibbing to get a shipper to deliver their package, but I wanted to see if it could be done honestly. Our little experiment could have been a fluke, but shipping hundreds or thousands of packages, from and to many different cities, is a bit much for me to try. So I’ll go by what I can do, which is read the terms and try the experiment. Based on that, I’ll venture a tentative “yes,” you can ship homemade wine via commercial shippers (again, not the US Post Office – I don’t know why, but you can’t).

Have you shipped homemade wine (or mead or beer)? I’d love to hear about it. Just leave a comment at the end of this post.



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8 thoughts on “Shipping Homemade Wine: We did it!

  1. Avery

    My father and I have been shipping beer back and forth for a couple of years. I know I have used the USPS before but probably brought the beer in already packaged and never mentioned what the contents were – had no idea it was against their policy.

  2. John

    There has to be a way to ship wines across state lines legally and without even the most occasional hitch; otherwise, how do the “Wine Of The Month” clubs do it all the time? This question has bothered me for some time, too. I am a member of openfermenter.org, and they have a wine “Secret Santa” thing they do every year. The bottle of wine shipped to me this past year arrived in excellent condition, but I have not received word on mine yet. Both were sent via FedEx. Take it for what it’s worth…

  3. Erroll Post author

    The way I remember it, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states can’t treat in-state and out-of-state wineries differently. Until then lots of states allowed local wineries (only) to ship directly to consumers. That ruling triggered legislative battles in most states over whether and how wineries could direct-ship. Local wineries, out-of-state wineries, wholesalers, and retailers have all been involved. So everyone’s interests are represented. Except consumers and home winemakers.

    I don’t think it occurs to anyone writing the laws, regulations, and policies that consumers in Washington might want to sample New York Riesling or that home winemakers might want to give or exchange their wine. Ok, I think I might be getting grumpy so I better stop now …

    Erroll

  4. Marte

    I just sent two bottles of my homemade Sauvignon Blanc from San Francisco, CA to friends in Omaha, NE. My first attempt was at FEDEX/KINKO’s. There, I happened to mention the box contained glass and was asked what it contained. I told them two bottles of homemade wine. They told my that it was FEDEX’s policy not to ship wine and when I asked who would I was told only a licensed liquor retailer could legally ship wine. I then went across the street to the UPS store and (using the don’t ask don’t tell approach) shipped my wine successfully to my friends.

  5. liz

    I always say Olive Oil. Or Jelly. Fed Ex wouldn’t ship when I told the truth. I went to a packaging store, paid extra, and by-passed the hassle.
    My experience has been some shippers say OK and some say no depending on the store, what kind of mood they are in, or if the boss is around. Totally random.

  6. Stewart

    Just tell em it’s vinegar. Vinegar gone horribly wrong! It’s not your fault the wine yeast won out in that particular bottle.

  7. gman

    We made 150 gal of the very best old vine zin that I truely consider GOLD which I’m not about to let the shippers keep me from shipping IL to FL. If I have to drive it down, I’l do it. I’m going to start with checking it in via “luggage” but I’m worried about pressurization issues. Anyone know about this issue?

    Gman

  8. Erroll Post author

    Hello gman,

    I think your right that there would be a pressure difference, but I don’t know how big of an issue it would be. You might try calling the airline.

    Erroll

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