The Best Way to Travel with Wine

With so many grape growing regions in the world, it’s easy to be a wine tourist. Tasting classic grenache-mourvedre-syrah blends in France’s southern Rhone Valley, luscious pinot noirs in California’s Sonoma County, and grassy, herbaceous sauvignon blancs in New Zealand’s Marlborough region are at the top of many a wine lover’s list.

You likely will face the inevitable dilemma—you know you’re going to fall in love with a few new wines, so how will you safely transport the bottles home? I’ve tried Wine Skins, the bubble wrap, wine-shaped, sealable package. Fingers crossed; I always pray they make it home safely.

I’ve also used a wine shipper. It’s a cardboard box filled with a styrofoam insert designed to protect each bottle. The case sized box fits into its canvas zippered suitcase complete with wheels and a strap to pull. A wine shipper can be found in select wine tasting rooms and larger liquor stores like Total Wine & More. My experience with a wine shipper was although it was inexpensive at $50.00, it proved to be too cumbersome to cart through an airport.

The best way to bring those wine purchases home

I recently discovered the VinGardeValise.  A deluxe hardbody configurable suitcase designed to safely transport up to 12 bottles of precious wine, with room for some clothing. I loved this wine suitcase so much, I nicknamed it Vinny.

wine suitcase for wine lovers
The VinGardeValise holds wine and some luggage ©PamBaker

The VinGardeValise comes in two sizes, the Grande and the Petite, ranging in price from $299.99 to $349.99. The Grande holds up to 12 bottles of wine and the Petite holds up to eight. I love the Petite for trips when I’m traveling by train. On a recent trip to Southern France, Vinny fit nicely in the small luggage rack at the end of the train car. The Grande is perfect for air and car travel. With 12 regular sized bottles of wine in my Grande, it checked in at just under 50 pounds.

wine suitcases for wine travel
VinGardeValise Grande and Petite ©VinGardeValise

The wine suitcase has a thick polycarbonate exterior with a ribbed design for greater durability. Each configurable well is fitted with sturdy foam inserts designed to safely hold 750 ml wine bottles in a combination from traditional Bordeaux and Burgundy to riesling and Champagne. Foam pads cover the opening of each side of the suitcase, and with additional straps and protective cloth, the bottles remain securely in place. The asymmetrical Hinomoto wheels and an adjustable telescoping handle make it easy to maneuver. Firm hinged lift handles attached on the top and side allow for easy lifting.

Checking Your Luggage

I’ve traveled twice internationally with my wine suitcase. Baggage allowance included two bags, and Vinny counted as one. Domestically, I’ve traveled twice with Vinny to Washington and Oregon. Southwest Airlines allows two checked bags and Alaska Airlines ships a case of wine for free.  I’ve never had to pay to check my VinGardeValise.

If you love wine travel as I do, you’ll enjoy traveling with this practical, sturdy wine suitcase.
Next up – Vinny and I head to New Zealand for their remarkable pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.

Pam Baker

Pam Baker is a freelance wine, food, and travel writer based in Northern California. She has written for local, national and international publications including Via Magazine, Porthole Cruise, Northwest Travel and Life, Upscale Living, Inspired Senior Living, Food Wine Travel Magazine, Edible Sacramento, Europe Up Close, Australia and New Zealand, and Washington Tasting Room. She is also the former editor for Sacramento Lifestyle Magazine.