Shipping Wine from Cape Town?

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Apr 16th, 2005, 02:02 PM
  #1
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Shipping Wine from Cape Town?

I'm hoping to try some great wines while in Cape Town and was thinking it would be nice to send some home. However, I took a peak around the internet (and did some searches here and didn't find anything) to find the costs of shipping a case or two of wine from Cape Town to the USA (California). The pricing I did find was for air freight and was really expensive - ranging between R2000 and R3000 for 12 bottles. I'm in no hurry, so I'm looking for slower and less expensive options.

Has anyone shipped wine from Cape Town to the US? What shipper/service did you use? Direct from the winery, etc.? How much did it cost? What was the shipping method?

Some of the sites imply different rules - one site says I'll need an import license regardless of quantity. Another says that I can import up to 24 bottles without a license, etc. I read the customs department info and it was very vague - if it could be interpreted that the quantities were for re-sale, then I'd need a license. So, if anyone has any experience with this your feedback would be appreciated.

Thank you for the help.
dreaming is offline  
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Apr 16th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Most wineries can ship direct for you. The problem is the quantity. 1 Case is too much.Customs gets involved. Its absolutely not worth it, unless you know an licenced Liquor importer. I found a great wine in SA and they were misinformed about quantities that can be shipped to USA. Took a friend with a wine distributor and a part of the shipment to get it out of customs.
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Apr 16th, 2005, 03:46 PM
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There are some liquor distributor sites around the Web which have comprehensive listings of their products. Find a few which operate in or to your state and print out their SOuth African offerings. Then, when you find that special wine, check the list and maybe you won't have to import yourself.
NoFlyZone is offline  
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Apr 18th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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Most wineries do indeed offer to ship direct for you but we found that the cost per bottle for shipping a case was often more than the cost of the wine itself.

Just not worth it for us.
Kavey is offline  
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Apr 18th, 2005, 11:38 AM
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SA wineries do NOT ship to individuals in the US. Believe me, I've been traveling there for 25 years, and buying wine there for 25 years, and I know. It's the US laws that are so confusing -- some states allow shipments of alcohol from foreign origins, some do not. The web of US law confuses people in other countries, and so they just don't do it. Wineries which advertise that they ship anywhere will tell you that they mean anywhere except the US.

Your best bet is to carry home as much wine as you can. If you can get a winery to box it up for you, you can take it as luggage, (risking breakage unless you take it as carryon) and pay the (very small) duty. We've done this several times.

At SA wineries, ask if they export to the US and if so, get the name and address of their exporter and when you get back home, look him up to find out if he's close enough to you.

If you have a good relationship with your wine merchant in the US, ask SA wineries for their cards, and give them to your US wine merchant when you get home and ask him to look into importing from those wineries.

There is a California-based importer called Southern Hemisphere Wine Center, www.southernwines.com, which carries many many SA wines, as well as Australian and South American wines. The owners are South Africans, I think, and they began by importing only SA wines, but branched out a few years ago to include the rest of the southern hemisphere.

I'm seeing more SA wines here in my small midwest city, but many are not high quality. My wine merchant carries a pretty good selection of SA wines, for a small American city, but even so, it's not a large part of his inventory.

Good luck at getting some of that bottled sunshine home with you!
Celia is offline  
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Apr 18th, 2005, 12:26 PM
  #6
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Thanks everyone for your help. I appreciate the guidance.

I was hoping for some miraculous shipping method (teleporting perhaps?), but didn't realize that the import laws would be so burdensome.

Thanks for all of the ideas. I will collect cards while I'm there - that should also make it easier to remember!
dreaming is offline  
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Apr 19th, 2005, 11:36 AM
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What I have done several times on past trips when wanting to purchase wines that were not likely to be found in CA was to ask a winery if they have a styrofoam shipping box, they will either give it to you or sell it for not much. You can then fill this up with a case of wine, and check ita s luggage. The contents will be perfectly safe and then you only have customs to deal with at the other end. Use the red channel and declare the wine, have a receipt or something similar showing value. Most of the time you will be waved through without even paying anything. It is worth checking how much is allowed and what the duty is before you leave.
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