Wine Import Shipping Quotes

I am in the process of assembling my business plan for a small wine import/distribution business. I have been in contact with several small producers in Turkey and have a high level of interest to be their importer. I have most of the information that I need to present to my investor as well as completing the TTB paperwork except for a solid quote for the cost of shipping a 20’ container. Can anyone point me in the right direction for this? I have tried to check with some of the major shippers (UPS & FedEx) as well as searching through and have received numbers that range from $500 for a single pallet to $15,000 for a 20’ container. This is obviously much too large a variance for me to feel comfortable approaching my investor with. PLEASE HELP!

To spare anyone that feels the need to make sure I know about the inherit difficulties of this business I am well aware. I have done more than my fair share of homework and have 10+ years experience being on the restaurant/retail side of rejecting sales pitches from countless wine reps. This opportunity was partially presented to myself and have an angel investor that is more than willing to help make this a possibility. Thanks for any help!

Hillebrand is probably a good place to start…

I ship my small aerobatic airplanes internationally for Aerobatic competitions around the world. The shipping rates can vary tremendously based on the port of call, but as a rule, it costs $8,000-10,000 USD to ship a 40 foot Conex container to and from Europe (for me, I budget $20k round trip to be safe, it rarely costs this much). A few notes of concern:
The aircraft value is very high so shipping insurance is relatively expensive.
The airplanes are big but very light, so the weight of the container is low.
The shipment doesn’t contain commercial products

These three items will adjust the shipping costs a bit, but I cannot see it costing much more than $3,000-5,000 USD for a 20 foot conex container on a one-way ride from Europe. Ground transportation to the port can also get expensive, so keep that in mind.

Good luck, it sounds like an interesting venture!

Have a search for wine/alcohol specific freight forwarders, that should get you closer.

Some parameters would help. Are you aiming for reefer? LCL, FCL? I’ve found that not all freight forwarders can do LCL reefer from all ports, so as mentioned above, ground transport can get expensive (actually can cost more than the ocean freight from what I’ve seen, depending on number of pick ups, etc.). I’ve only done LCL so can’t speak for 20’ vs. 40’. Potentially going for the bigger one yourself may work out better as when receiving at port a whole container could go into bond, as opposed to LCL where it needs to be unpacked. Also pay attention to weather on the ground for ground transport as refrigerated trucking is less cheap. Not doing reefer you can opt for thermal blankets to minimize temperature swing. Wine specific freight forwarders can probably help with the ‘request’ to do below deck containers. Works better with FCL, LCL seems less likely that the request would go through.

I guess this doesn’t really answer your questions, I’m certainly not an expert but I hope some of that helps?

if you are still seeking answers to the question you can contact me at my business and we can very quickly point you in the direction.
We do not import from Turkey -however, from various points in Europe and the costs will not be so different.

Quick outline,
standard 750 ml bottles, packed 12 X 750 ml, 50 or so cases to a pallet is 10 or 12 pallets to a 20’ container.
Non-reefer cost from France is about $2,500. Reefer add $2,000.oo or so.
You need a broker, all labels cleared by TTB, shipping too and from the dock. State license to enter the state,
Federal license to enter U.S.
or use someone to import for you like Adventures in Wine - California.

Good luck

I am in the process of setting up a small import operation and I found JF Hillebrand very responsive, as suggested by Marc.
Another good place to look at to have ballpark numbers is iContainers (

Feel free to contact me via PM.