Think Twice Before Shipping Your Homemade Wine

Arrested For Shipping Wine To FriendsHow do I ship some of my homemade wine from Illinois to my brother in Colorado. He tried some at a party and would like to try my other wines.

Name: Dan D. — IL
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Hello Dan,

Unfortunately, shipping wine to family, friends — or anyone for that matter — is illegal on a Federal level. This means if you are caught you could be charged with a Federal offense. As an individual, shipping or transporting alcohol across state lines for the purpose of consumption is a big no-no! This is the case regardless if you have made the wine or not. It doesn’t matter if you know the person or not.

It would be possible to ship wine to brother and friends if you were a licensed winery or alcohol distributor, but even then each state has its own rules about importing and exporting alcohol, so you would be at the mercy of both Illinois’ and Colorado’s state rules. Most of the regulations are just nonsense left over from prohibition, others are sternly there to protect the distributors and producers within their state. The home winemaker is just caught up in the broad net being thrown.

It is legal to ship your wines for analytical purposes on a Federal level. This would be for things such as shipping the wine to a laboratory for analysis or to a competition for judging. But again, state laws can interfere with this well.

So, unless your brother owns a laboratory or is sponsoring a wine judging competition, there is no way to legally get the wine to him.

Perhaps, this would be a good excuse to have your brother come visit!

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

10 thoughts on “Think Twice Before Shipping Your Homemade Wine

  1. I wonder about this. We constantly fly with wine in our checked bags. You can buy bubble packs to cushion the bottles. They even sell containers at wineries in Napa Valley to "check" so that you can get your wines home. I’m sure a federal employee sees those bottles at x-ray time.

  2. Ed – have you written any overview articles about obtaining a liquor license, licensing a still, or other legalities?

  3. In general, I don’t think this is truly valid. The 21st amendment (what ended prohibition) says it is only a federal crime if it is prohibited in the state you are moving into. And I am not aware of *any* states which prohibit reasonable amounts of wine for individual consumption.. now selling is another story. With that said, I do know what a lot of shipping companies and moving companies will not knowingly transport wine, you often have to transport it yourself or hire a specialty company to do it.

  4. Regarding article "Think Twice Before Shipping Your Homemade Wine", and the statement
    "It is legal to ship your wines for analytical purposes on a Federal level. This would be for things such as shipping the wine to a laboratory for analysis or to a competition for judging. "

    Can you please provide the federal statutes that spell this out?

  5. I think if I bought a bottle of wine in Cal. and drank it say in Ore. that the wine police would have to much to say about. If you choose to ship your wine, don’t use the US Mail. UPS & FedEx allow you to ship if you notify them that your shipping wine. They charge more. Putting it in checked baggage will put you over the 50 lbs. limit real quick. improper packaging which causes breakage is what can cause you problems. Unless your making some really good wine worthy of your brother then send him a gift card and let him pick up his own bottle of MD 20/20.

  6. I’m not aware of a single case where the TTB or some other Federal agency has prosecuted a home wine maker for sending a gift bottle of their own wine, on a non-commercial basis using UPS or FEDX, to a friend across a state line. Yes, it’s illegal. Does anyone care? Apparently not.

    I respect Ed Kraus’s blanket warning to home wine makers, but I think it’s a tempest in a wine bottle. That said, never, ever ship using U.S. postal service. Always use UPS or Fed-X.

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