After a long search, you’ve finally found it: The perfect bottle of merlot for your picky Aunt Mildred. There’s no way she won’t love the way the flavors blend and its history coming from Washington’s oldest viticultural area. It is the perfect Christmas gift.
But how will you get it to her?
Federal regulations forbid the shipping of alcohol in the U.S. mail, and UPS and FedEx require licenses for wine shippers.
But fear not: Many area wineries offer shipping on their own products, though strict regulations that vary by state may put some relatives out of range.
“Each individual state has its own set of criteria and regulations, so each individual winery has to choose whether or not to do commerce in each specific state,” says Barb Glover of Wine Yakima Valley.
For example, Gilbert Cellars is able to ship wine to 28 states, including Idaho, Oregon, California and Hawaii, as long as someone at least 21 years old is available to sign for the delivery.
Beyond the shipping restrictions, the weather in December can also be a challenge.
“Our priority is for people to get their wine in perfect condition,” says Jessica Moskwa, general manager at Gilbert Cellars. Gilbert Cellars ships all of its wine with two-day delivery to protect it from the cold, but wine that has to travel across snow-laden states may not survive the journey. Exposure to the elements can alter the wine and cause the cork to pop.
“That’s no fun for anything,” Moskwa says. “It’s worse than receiving coal in your stocking.”
If you’ve already picked up your wine gifts or want to send a selection of bottles from area wineries, try Stems in downtown Yakima. Owner Brad Baldwin is licensed to ship wine, and offers shipping both for bottles purchased in his shop at 411 E. Yakima Ave and those purchased elsewhere.
Baldwin says the shop, which has been open for six years, has seen a recent uptick in the number of people wanting to ship wine. Prices vary depending on how many bottles you want shipped and the destination. There’s also a $5 fee for the adult-signature requirement. Baldwin says he recently sent three bottles of wine to Idaho for a shipping cost of around $20.
Like the individual wineries, Baldwin is limited to which states he can ship to.
So if you’re determined to send that bottle of holiday cheer to dear Aunt Mildred, be sure to check with the shop where you purchased the wine to see if shipping is available to her state.
Or you could fly and deliver the bottle personally: Alaska Airlines lets you check your first case of wine for free on flights from Yakima through its Taste and Tote program.