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I want to import wine into the US

You cannot “just” ship wine into the US from abroad.  It has to be brought into the country via an importer.  There are lots of costs and much paperwork involved.  One of the biggest issues with shipping logistics – is how to bring in a small quantity at an affordable cost.

The standard way product is shipped into the US is via a container, which comes over on a cargo ship.  A standard container holds about 1120 cases (20 pallets) which is typically way too much wine for your average person just getting started in the wine importation business, or for personal use (even when you include orders for your entire extended family!)  Thus a person in this situation has to look for …

a shipping consolidator to co-load their product.  This is not easy to accomplish if you are new to the business.  Plus, you still need an importer of record.  You may be unwilling or unable to go through the licensing requirements and costs to become a U.S. importer (which is no small feat.)

Enter – Adventures in Wine.  They are an importer and distributor based in California.  A few years ago I became aware of a side business they were conducting – allowing other people (even consumers) to use their import license to bring wine into the country.  This opens up a world of possibilities for the average consumer or small business person just getting started in the wine importation business.

This service can be very useful to:

  • Individuals – this allows you to import wine for yourself from small producers that do not import to the US.  Did you find the most fantastic wine on your trip last year to Southern France?  Many producers have exclusive import agreements with a chosen importer in the US – so those producers would be off-limits, but many do not.
  • Individuals – who have a cousin back in Baden, an uncle in Sicily, or an aunt in Provence (making the most amazing wine of course!)  Now you have a way to get this wine into the country for personal consumption and/or for samples to use as sales tools to get try to get distribution in the US.
  • Want to try out importing? – This can be a way you can get a small amount of product into the country so you can get your wine importation business started on a shoe string.  (Caveat: I am not a lawyer and this is not business advice.  I recommend you consult with a lawyer before signing any business contracts.)

Adventures in Wine website here you can find their importation policies and pricing.

There are notable expenses not included here – such as the cost to get the product from the winery to the shipping dock in the EU, and the cost to get the product from the landing dock/importer’s warehouse to you, in the US.  FYI: Wine in the EU is typically sold “ex-cellar”, meaning you pay all costs once the wine leaves the cellar door.  At the wholesale level, wine in the US is typically sold “FOB” (freight on board) this means the buyer pays all costs from the point of origin (ie: importer’s warehouse.)  So the costs listed in the agreement above are not all-inclusive, they are ex-cellar and FOB.  You need to add these to the importation cost to come up with the final figure.  You will want to factor in all costs before you make a decision.

Happy importing!