You’ve secured movers to pack those treasured works of art, and perhaps another to ferry the piano safely. So now the time has come to work out the most critical part of your relocation: moving your meticulously picked fermented nectars — the contents of your beloved, if not prized, wine collection. 

Transporting Wine Across State Lines: Legal Considerations

Thirty-day jail sentences and hefty fines — that was the punishment for New York’s Dominick Morrelli and Frank Timchiere after police caught the pair transporting liquor without a license. The year was 1923, prohibition was the law of the land, and the Volstead Act prohibited the unauthorized “manufacture, sale, or transport of intoxicating liquor.”

Alas, that was then.

These days, jail sentences for liquor transportation violations are about as rare as a Rudy Kurniawan genuine vintage. However, some states still have conveyance rules on the books. For example, Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of alcohol without proper licensing. What is your new state’s alcohol carry law? Call a liquor store, in said state, and ask. They typically have the most up-to-date information and are more than willing to help out wine enthusiasts who may turn into regular customers.

Transporting Wine Across State Lines: Packing and Shipping Considerations

Packing and storing wine is a pediatric science; bottles should be handled like newborn babies. Ideally, pack wine in padded, sturdy boxes or crates. Each container should be wrapped and laid on its side because storing bottles upright for an extended period can taint the flavor. Also, two layers per box is the max. Don’t forget to pad between the strata, generously.

Temperature is another concern. Excessive hot or cold spoils wine. So, before you move a collection across state lines, consider logistics. Will you be driving to your new home or flying? If it’s the latter, find a moving company with climate control containers. Driving? To avoid any potential misunderstandings with law enforcement you may encounter along the way, stash your wine cargo in the trunk. Again, some states have rules against alcohol being in passenger areas — better to be safe than sorry.  
What about shipping wine via a postal service? It’s not a wise move. For starters, FedEx, UPS, and the United States Postal Service will send alcohol for licensed distributors, but not ordinary oenophiles. Even if you lie about your boxes’ contents, the chances of breakage increase exponentially.

Good luck marshaling those merlots, zinfandels, and perhaps a few blaufränkisches across state lines. If you follow the above advice, then you should be fine. Nevertheless, it never hurts to flatter the gods, so in that spirit: May Dionysus’ force be with you on moving day! 

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