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Hi all - We have some wine (~300 bottles) that's currently in storage in Chicago. The time has come to move everything to our house in the Bay Area, so I've started to research climate-controlled shipping companies. I've come across Domaine Wine Shipping, but was wondering if anyone else has other shipping company recommendations / tips / personal experience they could share.

I know these forums are full of smart wine fans located all over the place, so I figured someone has relocated a prized collection (surely nicer than mine Smile ) at some time or another.

Thanks in advance!
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I've never personally shipped wine, but I work in the distribution and storage division of a large CPG company that distributes very high value freight. So things you need to consider when choosing a shipper:

1. Make sure they carry insurance that will cover any lost, stolen, damaged, or compromised goods.

2. The driver will need to inspect your freight and do a piece count before you can securely package your wine. The exact contents of what you're shipping should be notated on the Bill of Lading (BOL).

3. Are they packaging the wine or are you? If wine is damaged due to your own faulty packaging, they may night cover it. At the very least it will be a hassle.

4. Do they have dedicated equipment (i.e. trucks) that their shipments ride on, or do they freight forward with a regional/national LTL (less than truck-load) carrier? If so, what carrier do they use, and is that carrier also insured?

5. When you do ship, I don't care how great the shipper seems to be, to the extent that you can, conceal and package your wine in a discreet way. Unfortunately due the current shortage of truck drivers in the U.S., there are less than scrupulous drivers out there who have been known to pilfer freight. Furthermore, it is highly likely your freight may end up at a freight consolidation center, at which point it will be exposed to anyone working on that shipping dock. To the extent that you can, investigate the route your freight will take, and look in to the consolidation centers it may travel through.

- Depending on how anal retentive you want to be, you can actually purchase data loggers to "ride with your wine" (we call them HOBOs) that will take temperature and humidity readings for the duration of your freight's transit. You may be able to rent them as well, but we own ours. The good ones can handle 40,000+ readings, and you can download everything to your PC once you get your freight.

6. Once your freight arrives, do not release the driver until you've un-wrapped your wine and inspected every bottle for damage or theft. You'll be asked to sign the BOL. Do not sign the BOL until you've inspected EVERYTHING. A BOL is a legal document between you and the carrier. If there is any damage or theft, you need to be sure to notate it on the BOL stating as such.

I know I didn't answer your questions about climate controlled shipping (they're called refer (refrigerated) trailers in the biz, but I thought I'd take a minute to walk you through the finer points of shipping high value products.

Good luck with the move!

Last edited by rvarob
Thanks so much Rob. I think we're going to use Domaine - they have a storage facility in Chicago and one just north of SF and offer climate-controlled shipping between the two. Your points are all very good ones and I will be sure to go through all of them with our shipper when we get ready to move the collection.
I have used Western Carriers twice. They advertise in Wine Spectator every month in the advertisement section. They are fantastic, and I insisted on using them again when I recently moved from Houston to LA. Joel Rubens is the guy to call. He is very responsive to his email, and offered to hold my wine for a month for free in a refrigerated warehouse until I was established in our new home and had leased new offsite storage space.
Everything gets shipped in climate controlled trucks from point A to point B. Prices are very reasonable. All of the points that Rob brings up are true. If you have no insurance, and you want them to insure it, it is expensive. I already had wine coverage, through my home insurance, and so every bottle was covered during the move, and so I did not need to pay for this extra premium. They will package the wine for you (extra costs) or you can do it yourself. I did it myself so that I could track where every bottle was located. Shipping wine in those bulky boxes with styrofoam will cost you more - prices are based on not only the number of boxes, but also the number of pallets they need to hold your wine (space). Smaller, space-efficient boxes without the styrofoam is the way to go for shipping purposes.
Hi all -

I thought I'd post an update now that we have finally shipped our wine from Chicago to Los Gatos in case anyone needs resources in the future. We used Domaine, though I also had a good dialogue with Joel at Western Carriers (thanks Wine doc!). Really, the decision between the two was just the ease of using Domaine (driven by their shipping hub locations in relation to our Chicago storage and home in the Bay) and I have no doubt Western would have done just as well by us.

We packed our own wine so that we could do an inventory (suffice it to say that my father is an impulse buyer with zero organizational skills). Many thing were in wooden crates, which were fine with Domaine. For any loose bottles or partial cases, we used cardboard boxes with cardboard dividers (no styro shippers). The folks at Domaine Chicago put everything on a pallet that was then wrapped in black plastic, so no one could see the contents, and kept it in a climate controlled area until it was picked up by refrigerated truck. The whole process from drop-off at Domaine to my cellar took just over two weeks (one week at Domaine waiting for the truck pick-up, and one week of transit).

All in all, a fairly straightforward process and a good group of people to work with. Their team was communicative and responsive, helped us load/unload wine, and didn't even roll their eyes when I checked every box (all 50 of them) before signing off on the shipment in CA.

And now we just get to enjoy the wine!

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