Moving Wine Cellar from CA to Europe

We are relocating from California to Europe (Switzerland) and I need to move my ~400 bottle wine cellar. I don’t want to ship the wine together with our other household items in a regular container since I am worried that the wine gets exposed to large temperature changes during the 2 month trip. Does anyone know or recommend a company that could help with such a wine shipment? Thanks!

I hope somebody here knows of a company for you, (and us). Maybe Nola Palomar has some experience from her travels back and forth between Spain and the US. We have access to a reliable shipper for the Far East and one for Great Britain, but none for continental Europe.

I would contact Domaine Wine Storage. They handle shipping around the world.

FWIW you’ll have to eventually work with a Swiss moving company. Everything gets stopped at the boarder to be inspected by customs (a process which can take up to a week). It is at this point the international movers drop off and the Swiss movers pick up. I’ve moved to Switzerland in 2007 and sice have moved three times within the country. Harsch is, without question, the best company to use for moving / storage. Also the most expensive but when you dealing with wine the margin between Harsch and the others is far less than the cost of replacing your collection. Call Harsch and ask who they have worked with to move wine. Take the opportunity to discuss with them the process of customs and how you can ensure your wine is in a climate controlled warehouse at the boarder. I am sure they will have solutions to suggest.

Also feel free to PM me if you have any other Swiss related questions. I live in Lausanne and work in Geneva.

Look for California wineries that sell in Switzerland and ask them how they get their wine there. A friend of mine was able to move his cellar to Europe that way. Good luck.

I have no experience with moving wine back to Europe once I get it here. My business model is to bring it in and sell it here! [wink.gif] [drinkers.gif] But, I think the idea of asking someone that exports to Switzerland is so far the best. If you find yourself coming down to the South of Spain though, do look us up!

When we sold our house in Cassis, we sent 62 cases from France to Michigan … temperature controlled.

WE used JF Hillebrand and the whole thing was easy and VERY Cheap. About $3.00 per bottle. YES that’s less than most uncontrolled UPS shipments from California to MI.

I assume they send wine the other way.

Easy to get it from Europe here, risky business going the other way. I have been bringing two Wine Cruzers per trip, which will get you 16 bottles or 10 magnums a trip. I am investing in Wine Cruzers and incentivizing friends who are traveling oight to serve as wine mules!

Depending upon the wines, it can also be cheaper to sell them stateside and replace them here…

I’m interested, purely out of curiosity, why its riskier business going from US to EU? Tax?

Customs, and possibly tax in some countries, or maybe even confiscation. The problems are many, including customs familiarity with wine being shipped in outside of commercial channels. The risk of heat or cold damage in transit is considerable as well. Consider that European wines have been shipped to America in quantity for well over a century, but that U.S. wines have virtually no market here. That means that the eastbound shipping channels are almost non-existent compared to the westbound channels, and even if you could find an eastbound reefer, it would likely be prohibitively expensive. On the hand carry into Italy, you get the benefit of the EU “trunkload of wine” quota of two cases for personal consumption without duty.

Interesting. I was aware of the risks of being held at customs for an extended period. I never asked when I moved here to Switzerland if the holding was climatised. I remember a slew of tax concerns regarding everything that puts one off of moving nearly anything into the country (I appreciate Switzerland is especially protective of their boarders).

I have always been aware that the US produces the equivalent of Bordeaux therefore immediately putting US wine at a “supply” disadvantage compared with the heavy weight producers of France + Spain + Italy. I also note there are almost “0” US wines to be found on the continent. Somewhat ignorantly I never put two and two together to arrive at the conclusion there is no established / reliable route for bringing wine here. Very interesting point. Thanks for the comments, it’s always nice to learn something new.

Unfortunately, not helpful!

I vaguely recall that Ziegler, a major transatlantic wine shipper based in Dijon, and Seabrook, a similar company, ship both directions. They are widely used by trade.

Customs and duties may be an issue. I remember talking with a German couple who were loading up their car with Barolo in the Langhe. They said that they had to pay duty entering Switzerland on the way home and then apply for a refund a couple ours later when they exited to Germany.

Was it shipped in tandem with cocaine? That price is stupefying. What a find, Steve. Not that I have any use for it, but I’m sure others will be very pleased to use it as an invaluable resource!



Yes. In 2001, the rate was about $65 a case with Ziegler from London, including customs clearance and duty.

I looked it up… Was $1547 for movement plus $123 for customs. 744 bottles. $2.08 per bottle.

Did have to pay something for the trucking to Beaune where it was consolidated with regular shipments … about .25 per bottle.

Some great info there, but you can never assume that it works the same way west to east. Some good leads to investigate anyway, and maybe also for those interested in buying in Europe and shipping to the U.S. in quantity…