Moving a wine collection is no simple task. There are a ton of logistics that go into the preparation and then the move itself. While it’s no walk in the park, it’s absolutely worth it to take moving a wine collection seriously.
We sat down to talk with Joe Quigle, General Manager of Domaine Transit. He said it’s critical for people to keep in mind that wine moving takes planning and organization. It’s the only way to guarantee your wine stays safe and cool in transit.
Also, we asked him about the most common requests he receives. “I hear it all the time. People want speed.” The problem is that when done properly, moving a wine collection is never speedy. In the world where we expect almost instant delivery, it’s hard to explain the opposite. “I spend a lot of time on the phone talking to people. I let them know that wine moving is like wine collecting. Good things are worth waiting for.” As wine collectors stressed by a move, we can forget that wine is temperamental. It does not respond well to being rushed.
Some wines are better with age, but all wines are better if moved with patience and attention to detail.
There are some clear preventative measures to take:
- Keep your collection at a cool, constant temperature
- Keep your collection out of sunlight
- Protect your wine with proper packaging and sturdy boxes
If you’re up for moving your wine collection yourself, you’ll want to take the following steps.
Think About the All The Moving Parts
Before even thinking about your wine, think about where it is. You need to consider your surroundings.
Ask yourself the following:
- What will you need to navigate during the move?
- Are there stairs? How many flights?
- What is parking like at my current and future home?
- How far is your wine is from the moving vehicle?
Joe said, “Each part of the move adds complexity. You start thinking you can move 10-15 cases of wine yourself. Then, you realize you’re packing, walking upstairs, down the driveway and into a van that’s too small.”
We asked Chris Zago, General Manager of Domaine Saint Louis, about moving wine. “I always tell the new team members to pace themselves. They sprint out of the gates, and then they’re exhausted. The worst part of is letting them know they’re less than a third done.”
Determining how will get your wine from origin to destination is the first step. Once you figure out how, you should ask yourself, “Am I going to need help to do this?”
Take an Accurate Account of Your Inventory
According to Joe, nothing can slow down a move like a lack of preparation. “Everything starts with a great plan. Unless you use software, most people don’t know exactly how many bottles and cases they have.”
If you’re short on time or moving yourself, packing your own wine is hard enough. You don’t want to have to run out to get more boxes or tape. Since cardboard wine boxes for moving aren’t on every corner, your move might slow down by days.
While it may seem like common sense, we find that people underestimate all the time. “We always bring extra boxes. There’s usually wine people forget to count. Sometimes it’s a few bottles, other times it’s 10 or more cases,” said Joe.
Before you move, get organized.
Count the actual number of bottles.
Make a list in Excel or use software like CellarTracker.
Determine what types and shapes of bottles you have:
- Champagne or oversized?
- Magnum or large format?
- Riesling or taller bottles?
Doing this will let you know exactly how many boxes you need to order and pack. Also, you’ll be able to select the proper box for each type of bottle. This work on the front-end will help you unload and unpack with ease. And if you need to get a quote for wine moving, you’ll be able to get an accurate estimate.
Determine The Value of Your Wine Collection
Once you know exactly what you have, you’ll want to know how much it’s worth. Wine is expensive and fragile. That’s why most moving companies won’t move it.
It’s often that we get the call while the moving company is in the driveway. Joe said, “It’s always tough when you hear from someone in a bind. They assumed their movers would take care of everything. We’ve been able to help out on many last-minute jobs.”
Additionally, most homeowners policies don’t cover wine during transit. Double-check your policy to make sure you’re covered.
We know the value of your collection, and that’s why we offer wine insurance on every move. It’s an extra level of peace of mind because of the added level of protection.
To determine the value of your collection, start with an up-to-date inventory. There are several platforms that can help you organize and estimate your collection. If you have a lot of wine, you can hire a third party to conduct an appraisal. This option isn’t as cost-effective as doing it yourself, but there is less room for error. Plus, you’ll have time to focus on the rest of your wine move.
The Equipment You Need
When you’re moving your wine collection, your number one priority should be safety. Your first line of defense is the cardboard wine box. Unfortunately, not all wine boxes are equal.
To find a proper box for moving wine, you’ll want to look at its thickness. I talked to our Marketing Manager, Brian McCann, who learned all about boxes when he worked in a retail shop.
“When you’re in wine retail, you start to look at boxes in a different light. You admired the nice ones. After we’d fawn over them, we’d keep the great ones somewhere special in the store. We’d use them in displays or for repacking nicer wines for our best customers.”
I asked Brian if they would ever give boxes to customers.
“Sure, but with discretion,” said Brian. “People would walk in and say, ‘Can I have a box? I’m moving.’ Often times, they wouldn’t even buy anything. They were pretty much guaranteed to get the worst box.”
I asked if there was a way to get a better box. He answered, “If someone was buying nice wine, was a great customer or was polite, we would get them a better box. But most of the time, it would be whatever was on hand.”
Getting The Perfect Box
Most of the boxes you see in a wine store are flimsy. After all, the box is an extra cost to the winery. Higher priced wine usually comes in a better box, so look for a box from one of the more expensive brands.
Another thing to remember is that most boxes rely on the bottles to provide strength. Brian said, “Yes, there are boxes that make it from all over the world to a retail shop. But many seem to disintegrate on unboxing.” A box that’s strong enough for moving should not bend or break when moved. It should also be able to support boxes stacked on top of it.
While you might want to use a standard cardboard box, you should reconsider. Most of those boxes don’t do well with heavy bottles. And without inserts or dividers, you’ll have to wrap the bottles separately. If packing wine yourself, Joe recommends using boxes and inserts specifically for wine. This can make a big difference in protecting your wine from danger during transit.
Another choice would be to use wine shipping boxes. These are expensive and bulky, but they definitely do a great job of protecting your wine. If your collection is less than two cases, this might be a great option.
The last option would be to buy Domaine boxes. We’ve used our boxes on thousands on wine moves and everyday in our facilities. As a result, we built Domaine boxes to last. You can keep your boxes for another wine move or extra storage in your new cellar. Unlike wine shippers, they take up less space when not in use and they are more affordable.
Time to Ship
Now that you’re prepared, you can determine your shipping method.
You’re ready to ship when you know:
- How much wine you are trying to move
- The value of your wine
- Number of boxes you need
Depending on the size, there are three different ways you can ship your wine collection. Each has its own benefits, so please read on.
This option is perfect for anyone who is shipping either 2 cases or less. If this is the case, you will need the following:
- Shipper boxes
- Appropriate shipping labels
- Someone to sign for your wine when it’s delivered
It is possible to have your boxes temperature-controlled when using a third-party shipper. But it’s not guaranteed that they will be refrigerated the entire time. If you’re only moving a few bottles, this can be a cost-effective method.
PickUp and Drop Off at a Domaine Facility
If you live near a Domaine facility, we offer a pickup and drop off option. We’ve done this for many customers with smaller collections. We can help you move to or from places near the following cities:
- St. Louis
- New York
- Washington, DC
All you have to do is pack your boxes of wine and drop them off at any Domaine facility. Then, we will transport your collection to the Domaine facility of your choice. Once your wine arrives, you have 30 days after delivery to pick it up.
This is a great, affordable option for those willing to do a little bit of work. Plus, your wine stays temperature-controlled as soon as you drop it off at our facility. After it arrives, our wine professionals handle it until you’re ready to pick it up.
If you have 10 or more cases of wine, you’ll want to consider using Domaine Transit. We can assist you with everything for moving your wine collection. From packing to unpacking, our team can make your wine move easy, and even enjoyable.
We take care of everything and ensure your wine is protected throughout the entire move. We pack it into a refrigerated vehicle and bring it to our warehouse. There, we can perform a complete inventory of your collection. Finally, it’s shipped to your destination in a refrigerated vehicle and unpacked by our team.
Regardless of how you choose to move your wine collection, be sure to take care and precaution. Have any questions or additional tips you’d like to add? Comment below or contact us directly.