If your wine collection consists of a case of Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck, the quality won’t exactly plummet during a four-day interstate drive across the country. However, if you’re relocating expensive or vintage wines, you need to do it right.

That means hiring a professional mover knowledgeable about wine that has the proper equipment, staff and vehicles to protect your pricey investment.

how to move your wine collection

Wine collections need special handling, says Stephen Seligson, director of sales and marketing at Molloy Bros. Moving & Storage in Manhattan, NY, which helps move wealthy clients’ wine collections. Some bottles are worth “several thousand dollars,” he says.

If you’re relocating to a distant city and want your wine collection to follow, below are steps to take to protect your wine collection on a cross-country relocation.

Wine cellar

1. Size It Up

Determine whether your wine collection can be air-shipped easily and inexpensively or whether it’s big enough to require transport on a refrigerated truck. While myriad factors like distance and size determine the cost, air shipping 25-30 cases is usually less expensive than transporting by ground, says Mike Gillespie, owner of Wine By Air International.

2. Choose a Method

If you’re thinking about putting a few cases of good wine in your car, know that temperature changes can spoil wine and vibration can stir sediment on mature reds.

“Heat is going to cook the wine, and corks pop out if it freezes,” says Gillespie.

If you hire a mover, choose only a company that specializes in moving wine.

Bottles of wine.

3. Take Pictures

Before you send off your valuable collection, “take photos of every bottle and label and document what you have,” says Seligson.

4. Hire a Specialist

Molloy Bros. hires a high-end specialty company to move wine collections, which are packed properly and placed in a refrigerated truck. Then that company coordinates the truck’s arrival time with the moving truck carrying other household items, including any refrigerated wine coolers, so there’s no time lapse to cause wine spoilage.

What to look for when choosing a wine mover:

  • Knowledgeable staff. Wine By Air International dispatches staffers in major cities, wine storage facilities and shops to pack wine for surface transport or shipping. “These are wine people who care about wine as much as you do,” says Gillespie.
  • Proper packing. Wine By Air International also sends packing agents to your home to carefully remove wine bottles from racks and storage areas and package them in insulated, protective boxes with custom-shaped interiors to hold the necks securely. Wine boxes transported on its trucks are “wrapped up like a brick” and taped to pallets to minimize movement, says Gillespie.
  • Climate-controlled transport. Wine should always be transported in climate-controlled air travel and refrigerated trucks.
  • Help with insurance. Molloy Bros. helps customers obtain insurance for wine collections through a third party, based on the specialty company’s assessment of the collection’s value.

Couple Makes a Toast With Wine and Unpacks Boxes

5. Do It Yourself

If you decide your wine collection isn’t quite worth springing for specialty wine movers, here are some pointers to make sure you do it right:

  • If you transport wine with a traditional moving company, be sure to list the collection as a high-dollar item.
  • When driving cross-country with wine, don’t use retail wine boxes, which aren’t designed to be used as shippers, according to TheWineMover.com. Use styrofoam shippers instead.
  • Check permit laws. Some states require a permit for moving a personal wine collection. Most transport laws pertain to commercial sales of wine over state lines by retailers.
  • Avoid transporting wine during summer months due to risk of spoilage.
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