Imagine going off to wine country for the trip of your lifetime. Your week is soaked in shiraz and cabernet, dripping with pinot this and pinot that. You enjoy the Malibu sun and all the beauty the Pacific coast has to offer, and you even pick up a few bottles to take home. At the hotel, your bag full of trendy clothes stare back at you, and you realize just how much space a bottle of wine takes up.

It’s not fair to have to choose between leaving behind clothes or wine, so before you plan your vineyard vacation, brush up on these tips for making sure you can make it back home with those bottles in hand.

Wait, can I even take wine on a plane? If you’re legally entitled to possession of wine, you travel with it, as long as it’s less than 70% ABV. (Hint: if your wine is more than 70% alcohol, it’s probably not wine).

But, bear in mind that TSA has some mighty strict liquid restrictions for the cabin. Unless you’re buying wine in 3.4 oz containers, you should make sure your precious cargo is in your checked luggage, rather than a carry-on or personal item. Make sure it’s sealed.

But my suitcase is full!

Sorry, kid. This is just one of those things you have to plan for.

If you’re headed off to wine country, it’s worth testing out the space in your suitcase at home.  Give yourself an allowance of two or three bottles, and see if it fits after all your clothes are packed. Remember that checked luggage is subject to weight guidelines, so check with your airline to see what rules apply (they may be different for foreign and domestic flights). 

If you think you might not have enough space, bring an additional carry-on suitcase along and budget for another checked back. This will give you room for all sorts of souvenirs! Oh, and don’t forget to bring some extra padding….

Yeah! Won’t it break?

There is nothing more dreadful than the thought of opening up your suitcase to find that a turbulent bump broke your wine and ruined your clothes. Yikes.

Sandwiching those hefty glass bottles on all sides is a good approach, and putting them in some wine travel bags is even better. You don’t want the bottles near any surface of the bag, but you also don’t want them too close together or rolling around.

Again, test and see what works. Gently shake your bag, and remember that the fine, fine people at the airport will be about twenty times less gentle than that. Use clothes small pillows and similar items for padding. It only takes one wrong collision for your wine fantasy to turn into a wine nightmare.

Any other ideas?

If you’re super serious about stocking up, chat with the winery about sending you wine. It’s kind of “their thing,” so expert packing and shipping will almost guarantee the wine gets to you in good shape.

If you don’t love that idea and want more instant gratification (and who could blame you?) invest in something swanky and smart like the Vingard Valise. or Wine Skin.

Like all good things, traveling with wine requires a little work and a little planning. But we like to think it’s one of the sweetest memories you can take home!