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April 14, 2018 2:57 AM   Subscribe

How can I ship twelve bottles of wine from California to Edmonton, Alberta?

We have been gifted 12 bottles of wine from my fiancée's family to have at our wedding dinner in Edmonton in early May. I assumed that it would just be a matter of dropping it off at a suitable FedEx location (or similar), but it seems that this is not necessarily the case. From the FedEx FAQ:
Who can ship wine to a consumer to Canada?

FedEx® accepts alcohol (wine) packages only from approved licensed entities. Consumers are not allowed to ship wine to other consumers but may engage an approved licensed entity to ship on their behalf. Go to to get started.
This immediately poses a problem, as the shippers are not "approved licensed entities".

According to BorderBee, it is a difficult task to ship unaccompanied liquor to Canada. They do say however that it can be included in one's luggage, that the restrictions listed only apply to non-accompanied alcohol.

To potentially complicated this, not all of the wine was ever purchased (and so has no price/receipt): some of it is from her family's vinyard, which is part of why we want to bring it to our wedding.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Is our best bet to just have it as checked luggage when her family is coming for the wedding?
posted by vernondalhart to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Naturally, we want to minimize the chance of damage to the wine, either structurally or in terms of effects of temperature. We have cases for the structural protection, and hopefully it wouldn't be an issue for the few hours it would be in the air with respect to the temperature.
posted by vernondalhart at 2:59 AM on April 14, 2018

Sadly, checked luggage was my solution en route to another prairie province. Even within Canada it can be tricky to have wine shipped interprovincially. I will be watching this thread with interest.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!
posted by nathaole at 3:02 AM on April 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

CBSA says you can bring in 1.5 litres (which is basically two bottles) per person duty free if you're of the legal drinking age (if they're landing in Alberta directly from the States, that's 18; check other provinces for their ages). So you have six or more people coming on one journey from this family (or this area, even), the wine could be split among them.

What I would do, though, is contact the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and ask them about shipping it, since the cost of adding a checked bag on six plane tickets might well exceed the tax you'd pay or fees you'd incur on shipping things in. I assume they'll be able to help you calculate the tax rate and point you toward brokers, at the very least, so you can make a judgement call on what will be cheapest and easiest. They'll also be able to advise on the problem of the fact that the wine was never sold.

(Alternatively: can you simply drink the wine when you visit this family in the future?)
posted by mdonley at 3:55 AM on April 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I tried to ship beer to my parents Manitoba some years back, but it ended up being a sufficient hassle that I just took it with me when I visited them for Christmas that year. See my comment in this thread for what the process would have entailed. Procedures in Alberta may differ, so you should see what you can find on the AGLC's website and/or call them up and ask.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:42 AM on April 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

If they have a vineyard, they would have to have a license, right? This FedEx link says that US licensees can ship to Alberta via FedEx Express.
posted by basalganglia at 6:54 AM on April 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Even if the vineyard is licensed, they may not have an importer permit, which they would need for international shipping, and I don't know if it makes sense to obtain one just for this purpose. A broker could maybe help, but I think checked luggage may be the easiest way to go? I've flown wine and spirits on visits between US/Canada, winter and summer, with a happy record of zero breakage/loss, and with no discernible degrading of quality. (Unless there's a serious delay or the luggage ends up sitting on the tarmac for hours, the wine will be in temp-controlled spaces, and should be just fine.)
posted by halation at 7:20 AM on April 14, 2018

Your best bet is to drive or fly across the boarder with it. We have family in Alberta and often take wine up with us to visit. You will have to pay a duty on the wine in excess of two bottles or whatever the limit is, but it’s not excessive. Just tell them you’re happy to pay and how much is it?
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:00 AM on April 14, 2018

Vineyards and wineries in Oregon will often help you ship wine even if it isn’t theirs, I imagine a friendly neighboring winery in California would do the same.
posted by janell at 9:27 AM on April 14, 2018

Is the family vineyard a licensed manufacturer ? In other words are they licensed with the state of california to sell wines? If so, I think the vineyard could do the FedEx paperwork to send the wine to you, as a consumer in Canada. Note that the wine as to go FedEx Express so it might be expensive.
posted by metahawk at 11:10 AM on April 14, 2018

I’m not sure where in CA this is but if the winery itself does not have a set up to ship internationally there are quite a few independent shipping companies in wine country that specialize in wine shipping. They have the standard individual bottle styrofoam packaging available - nothing of mine has broken yet - knock on wood. There are a few suggestions here for Sonoma County and a few of them mention that they will ship internationally. Probably worth calling around. Probably won’t be cheap though.
posted by rdnnyc at 1:39 PM on April 14, 2018

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