Buying wine in SA

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Jan 11th, 2006, 12:46 PM
  #1
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Buying wine in SA

So I plan to go see a few wineries while I'm in South Africa, and if I judge from my Napa valley experience, I'll be tempted to buy a few bottles (cases). Does it makes financial sense to do this and have them shipped to the US (is it even legal), or is it cheaper to just find the wine in the US (when possible)?

Anyone looked into this?
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Jan 11th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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We only had time to visit about 4 wineries and picked up several bottles at JNB to bring home which was a mistake. They had been poorly stored and were not drinkable but we have found a good store here in so. Ca. called "Southern Hemispheres" and we have ordered from them. I believe they are in Long Beach.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 01:40 PM
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I think you might be running into problems. To send a case to California for instance, it is not the cost(there are taxes too) as much the hassle to get through customs. Got a friend who is in the booze import business?

Best bet is find a place that imports SA wines.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Over the last 25 years, I've tried every way from Sunday to have wine shipped from SA to the US. It can't be done. All the wineries that say "we ship overseas" mean "we ship overseas but not to the US". The reason is that the varying state laws make it too hard for them to navigate the legalities.

Ask at the wineries for the name of their American distributor, if they have one, and then when you get home you can ask your wine merchant to contact the distributor and start carrying the wine.

If they don't distribute in the US, buy some, and carry it home as hand luggage. We always ask at a bottle store (SA word for liquor store) for an empty case box. We fill it up and tape it securely with duct tape. We used to make a handle from strong string -- you tie it up like a Christmas present and make a loop for the handle, -- but a few years ago we bought (from someplace like Magellan's or some other travel store) a thing made of webbing that works just like a string handle. You put it around the box and adjust it to the right size, there's a plastic handle at the top, and you can carry it on the plane.
Back in the days of sanctions, we brought home a lot more than we do these days. Our excellent local wine merchant carries a pretty good selection of SA wines. But years ago we stuck it in our luggage and carryons and hoped for the best. I think we only had one bad break. The bottle had been wrapped in some of my undies, and a lovely white slip became inse-dyed purple one.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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That's supposed to say "tie-dyed".
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Jan 11th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Thanks for all your input. I think I will follow Celia's advice and ask for their US importer. They are kind of finicky here about shipping wine across state borders. Nation state bordcers seems to be even harder.
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Jan 11th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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lessthanzero,

I think that all the information that you have been given in this thread is very sound.

I always suggest to my visitors that they should carry 3 bottles each onto the plane. To do this most of the wine farms have 3 bottle containers that are very easy to carry and are freely available. You can obtain these containers from one farm even if you only purchase one bottle at the farm and then fill it up with wines from other farms.

If you want to enjoy more than 3 bottles of wine from South Africa that you found on your journey through the winelands it just is not worth trying to export it from SA to the USA for all the reasons that everybody has already told you. My suggestion would be that you go to the website www.southernwines.com. Great site which offers wines from the southern hemisphere where they have an excellent selection of SA wines at very good prices that they will deliver to your door. Many of my visitors in the past have used their services and have come out very happy with the deals that they struck and the service that they obtained.

One last point is that if you do carry individual bottles DO NOT put them in your suitcase, rather take them in your carry on bag on board because if there is a pressure drop in the hold you are going to find that you will have many red garments, that is if you buy some of our wonderful reds.

Enjoy our great country when you visit us.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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