Tips for Successful Wine Shipping

Now that spring is finally starting to arrive, it’s the perfect time to ship wine!  Vinfolio’s standard of shipping is to use a weather check to make sure your wine ships when the temperatures are ideal. This system is linked directly to AccuWeather.com and checks to make sure that the points of origin and destination have temperatures that fall between 20°F – 75°F, and will automatically put a hold on your shipment if the weather is outside of those temperature parameters, attempting delivery the following week until the wine successfully ships. Depending on where you are shipping to and what speed you choose, you can also opt to waive the weather check and ship anyway.

Here are a few pointers for the most seamless delivery possible:

  • Always use the quickest speed possible.  This might mean a higher shipping cost, but weigh the costs of shipping against the risk to your wine should you choose to send it across the country using a slower speed.  More time in transit means longer exposure to a non-climate-controlled environment, especially if the package is delayed or sits at a shipping warehouse over the weekend. You’ve probably invested a fair amount of money into your wine – don’t skimp on shipping!
  • Ship to a business address, or to a building that has a doorman that can accept your delivery.  We recommend shipping to an address that is equipped to receive shipments during standard business hours.  This ensures that shipments will not remain overnight in vans or warehouse facilities without temperature controls.
  • Ensure the presence of a receiver of legal age.  Since a wine shipment contains alcohol, carriers are required by law to obtain an adult (over 21 years of age) signature upon receipt.
  • Or, opt to ship to a FedEx Office.  If you know you that no one will be able to receive your package, you can choose to ship to any FedEx location and have it held for pickup. Simply enter the FedEx address as your ship-to address, with your name, and add “Hold For Pickup” to the Recipient Name (i.e. John Smith – Hold for Pickup). If your shipment is already in progress and you’ve missed the attempted delivery, you can also call us and have us reroute the shipment to the nearest FedEx office for pickup as well.  Find your nearest FedEx office here.
  • Monitor your tracking number.  FedEx and Golden State Overnight often update their tracking information in real time, so if there is a problem with your delivery, you should be notified fairly quickly.  You can also sign up for FedEx alerts right on FedEx.com so you will be sure to get notification right away via email or SMS.
  • Be aware of any changes in weather or other issues that could delay delivery.  A sudden storm may throw a wrench into your delivery timing, which unfortunately, is uncontrollable.  The shutting down of streets for festivals such as Mardi Gras, the NYC Marathon, or a Presidential visit can also affect your delivery, so try to plan around them if possible.  If you are shipping wine to arrive for an important event, such as a tasting, party, or dinner, schedule perhaps a day or two to allow ample time for your wine to arrive and settle prior to drinking.

Things you should know about your shipment:

  • Vinfolio ships using styrofoam shippers.  This packing material does provide a fair amount of insulation against both heat and cold, so unless your shipment is sitting in extreme temperatures for hours, the internal temperature of the wine should not change too drastically.  Shipments sent in pulp packaging do not provide this same insulation.
  •  Shipments are insured for up to $100 per shipment.  This does not mean we can’t insure it for more, but you have to request the additional insurance.  Broken, damaged, or lost shipments are rare – but they can happen. Additional insurance fees are minimal, approximately $.90 per $100 of value. Email us at service@vinfolio.com for more details.
  • We won’t ship your wine inside its wood case:   It is never a great idea to ship your wine inside of a case that is not meant for shipping, so when your wine comes with a wooden case, we ship the bottles and the case separately to prevent breakage.  The exception to this is for banded cases of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, for which we have ordered custom fit shipping boxes that are meant to accommodate a bound DRC box.
  • Consider Temperature Control Shipping.   During the summer, FedEx offers Temperature-Controlled shipping that many of our clients use, a service that uses refrigerated ground transport to move your wine across country at a cost that is slightly higher than FedEx Ground service. To learn more, click here.

Questions regarding our shipping capabilities?  Contact us and we will be happy to help!  Also, stay tuned for our post on Summer Shipping options as the weather warms up across the country.  We’ve got you covered.

California’s Drought & Wine Country

A close-up of damaged grape vines in Michael Vandborg’s drought stricken vineyard in the Lamont farming community in southeastern Joaquin Valley in Kern County, CA on Feb. 26, 2014. USDA photo by David Kosling.

It’s the middle of March, and Californians from San Francisco to San Diego are enjoying glorious amounts of weather worthy of a coastline cruise in a convertible.  Rosé weather during Thanksgiving weekend?  Yes!  Beach day in December?  That’s right.  Our warm weather induces eye-rolls from our friends out East, who have been literally buried under record-breaking amounts of snow until recently. But the sunshine comes with a price – California is entering our 4th year of drought, the worst we’ve had in over a century, causing havoc and economic hardship in the agriculture sector.

The drought has given winemakers all over California some cause for concern, due to the potential damage that the lack of water can cause to the vines, should the vines dry up completely.  Last year, vineyard owners had to prune and harvest sooner than usual, as the grapes ripened faster due to the copious amount of sun they were receiving.  Many vintners have turned to dry-farming, in the face of a growing water shortage, but some say this changes the character and taste of the grape dramatically.  And, less water used can mean less yield from the vines, in turn decreasing overall wine production.  Wine shortage, people.  It could happen.

The silver lining in all of this?  The 2014 vintage could turn out to be a spectacular one.  Grapes are fairly drought resistant, and the stress of getting less water means smaller berries with more concentrated sugar & flavors.  This may mean higher quality wine with greater aging possibility.  Vintages during drought years, such as 2012 and 2013, garnered better rankings in publications such as Wine Advocate, than rainier years like 2011.  What do you predict for the 2014 vintage, and 2015 harvest?  Share your thoughts in our comments section.

Here are a few Vinfolio selections from drought years 2012 & 2013:

2013 Aubert – Chardonnay Eastside Vineyard  (98-100 pts, Wine Advocate)

2012 Schrader – Cabernet Sauvignon (LPB) Las Piedras Vineyard (96-98 pts, Wine Advocate)

2012 Orin Swift – Papillon (93 points, Wine Advocate)

2012 Arietta – H Block Hudson Vineyard (92-94 pts, International Wine Cellar)

How Much Light Is Bad Light When Storing Wine?

So we’ve told you why vibrations are bad for storing wine, so today we’ll give you some tips on proper lighting and the important ways it can effect a fine wine. 

Do not expose your wine to excessive light. Sunlight or other forms of bright light age the wine too soon, leaving you with poor quality tastings. Ideally, wine should be stored in a dark, cool environment. Continue reading How Much Light Is Bad Light When Storing Wine?

Fighting Wine Fraud Is Hard

Collectible wine tends to stay on the market for a very long time and that makes it exceptionally difficult to deal with issues of wine fraud.

Nick Bartman has proposed an interesting idea for fighting fraud in an article at JancisRobinson.com. In the article, he proposes leaving a physical imprint on each wine bottle that is unique to the batch of wine being bottled by that specific bottling plant. Because the machinery for creating wine bottles is large and expensive, it supposedly wouldn’t make any sense for a wine fraudster to try and replicate the process.

His anti-fraud proposal rests on a fairly straightforward, though flawed, assertion:

Something that is difficult and costly to replicate today will also be difficult and costly to replicate in the future. 

Continue reading Fighting Wine Fraud Is Hard

The Foie Gras Ban Has Been Lifted, Chefs Celebrate And Vegans Protest

Foie gras can be the perfect luxury wine pairing for collectors. and it is now possible to enjoy the two together. California just recently lifted the ban on foie gras production. Chefs can now legally sell and serve it in their restaurants, whereas they previously gave it away for free after the 2012 ban when into action. While the chefs may be excited, others are not happy about it and are very against the force-feeding methods involved in producing the fattened liver of geese or ducks. Others point out that although the production may be harsh, it’s not any worse than the way majority of America produces its meat. What’s your opinion on the matter?

“I learned to appreciate how it spreads like the world’s most decadent and flavorful butter when served cold as a torchon. I learned to appreciate how when it’s served hot, it’s crisp, sweet, and savory, and melts in your mouth like no other food in the world.”

Read more of the article at Serious Eats

“If it’s ultimately and legally determined that foie gras production is cruel, inhumane or both, labeling it so would strengthen the argument that so are the current means of production for most industrially raised animals (and their products).”

Read more at New York Times

“Ingrid Newkirk, said that ‘The main ingredient in every bite of foie gras is cruelty to animals, and PETA is calling on kind people everywhere to stay away from any restaurant that insists on serving this vile dish.'”

Read about PETA protesting at SF Eater

Does a Stronger Dollar Lead To Better Wine Prices? It’s Complicated…

As a wine collector, in the United States,  one would hope that a better-performing dollar would lead to more bargains for collectible wines. However, as a New York Times article points out today, luxury goods and limited supply does not necessarily mean these savings get passed on to the collector:

“The wine producer will increase its markup in the United States, canceling out the decline in marginal cost … French firms will not fully pass-through the benefits of a stronger dollar to United States consumers, but will get a cut from it in the form of higher markups.”

Read the full New York Times article here

Finally Some Reasonable Pricing For Bordeaux En Primeur?

With the combination of a relatively poor global economy, strong US Dollar and what looks to be a pretty good Bordeaux vintage, this could finally be the time for wine collectors to stock up on newly collectible Bordeaux.

“While stressing that at this early stage it is impossible to predict prices with any accuracy, Philippe Dhalluin told Wine-Searcher that ‘a poor economy and a great vintage’ led to the most reasonable prices.”

Read the full article at Wine-Searcher.com