Moving Full Carboys

Maybe you sold your house, maybe you decided to rent a different apartment, but for whatever reason you’re moving. How do you transport your carboys and jugs without breaking them or spilling anything? I was in exactly that situation and I managed to get my fermenting and aging wine from the old house to the new house without incident. Here’s how I did it:

Bottle it!

By far the best way is to bottle your wine or mead, pack it well, and ship it. I was able to bottle some of my wine by moving day and I just turned that over to the movers. Most of it was in commercial wine boxes with cardboard dividers, but some of it was in ordinary moving boxes with each bottle wrapped in newspaper. However you do it, make sure the bottles are packed to they don’t move and that glass doesn’t touch glass.

Move the jugs in a cooler

I had quite a bit of aging/fermenting wine, and not a lot of free time. So by moving day I had a lot of 1-gallon jugs with airlocks that I needed to move. As with the bottles, packing the jugs so that glass does not touch glass and they don’t move will prevent breakage. But there will be bumps and there will be sloshing. That could lead to spilling and popped airlocks. One way to handle this would be to replace the airlocks with solid bungs and tape them into place, but even if you do this (I didn’t) you should still plan for spills.

I did this by packing the 1-gallon jugs into a large (37.5 gallon – 142 liter) cooler. It held all of my jugs, with airlocks, and I was still able to close the lid. Now the jugs were prevented from moving, protected from impact, and enclosed in a watertight cooler. The cooler went in the back of my SUV, and the jugs made the trip without breaks or leaks.

Use nested garbage bags to contain spills from a carboy

I had one carboy to move and no waterproof container to put it in, so I turned to large plastic garbage bags. I place the carboy into one bag, let’s call it the “bottom bag.” The other bag, cleverly named “top bag,” draped over the carboy. I tucked the top bag inside the bottom bag, then pulled the bottom bag up to enclose the carboy. Once I fastened the bottom bag in place with tape, even a violent spill would be contained.

The waterproofed carboy joined the large cooler in the back of my SUV, where I nestled it between boxes, towels, old clothes and whatever else was handy. After I was satisfied that it was well padded and immobile, I headed for my new home. Like the 1-gallon jugs, the carboy, and – more importantly – the blueberry mead inside it, arrived in fine shape.

There might be better ways of doing it, and I’d love to hear about them, but this is how I did it and it worked. Remember: immobilize, protect, and waterproof. It’s worth the effort so you can – and you really should – pop open some home made wine when you get to your new place!

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5 thoughts on “Moving Full Carboys

  1. John

    Hey, Erroll,

    Nice post. Haven’t been in touch for a while. So you moved, huh? Still in Bellevue? In either case, good luck and much enjoyment in your new home! Keep doing a fantastic job on your blog. It’s such a blessing and a constantly-used resource for folks like me!


    – John

  2. Erroll Post author

    Hi John,

    Good to hear from you, and thank you for the kind words. Yeah, I moved. After 20 years in Bellevue it was time for a change.


  3. Bill

    Nice to hear that someone from my home state has similar intrests. I grew up in the Tacoma area but am currently in the Great Frozen North (Northern Wisconsin). I just finished a really good blackberry but only made 2 gallons, so now my wife wants me to go to a 5 gallon carboy for the next batch. Found out that Pineapple comes out waaay acidy. My apple this year wasn’t to bad. Store grapes aren’t suppose to be to good for wine, but I had really good luck with 2 batchs of those that came out med-dry. And those were before I got the 1118 yeast! There’s a spot on ebay that has what they call turbo yeast that is suppose to go to about 20%, I’ve been thinking of giving that a try. Well, enjoy the fruits of your labor as we do mine.
    Travel in Peace spreading Peace, Bill

  4. John H.

    To Bill:

    I have used the Turbo yeast. I followed the label instructions and it did indeed produce a “wine” with alcohol sitting somewhere around the 20% mark. The stuff is terrible to drink, though, as it was made with sugar and water ONLY – per the instructions. According to the representative from the lab that created it, it was developed with home distillers in mind. You get a quick fermentation of nasty-tasting stuff to throw into the pot still. The end result being clear liquor, you don’t necessarily need flavor compounds that wouldn’t survive the distillation anyway and this way the distiller has more “bang for his buck” with a high alc. % in his must.

    Just thought you might want to know from someone who has used the stuff and researched it. Cheers!

    – John Hance
    North Carolina

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