Managing harvest and demand challenges in a dynamic wine market leads many wineries to look to the bulk wine market for adjusting offerings to optimize profits. Shipping wine in bulk is also considerably more cost-effective than shipping in bottles or cans and allows winemakers to store, modify or blend wine prior to bottling.
Once the decision to engage will the bulk wine market is made, winemakers interested in buying/selling bulk wine will almost certainly need to arrange and pay for shipping at some point. A significant component of bulk wine’s cost and management can be its transport, so it is advantageous to have a good system in place.
There are several factors to consider with shipping bulk wine/juice, but at the center of a successful process is communication. In addition to saving a considerable chunk of time better spent elsewhere, proper communication will also vastly reduce the chance of costly errors with potentially valuable purchase/sale transactions.
Who is responsible for shipping, the buyer or seller? Typically, the buyer; some buyers have preferred carriers they like to work with, but most are willing to take the best price. Obtaining multiple freight quotes is an opportunity for sellers to provide value as well as the ability to negotiate competitive rates with freight brokers or individual carriers, even if these costs end up getting passed along to the buyer.
Regardless whether or not the seller elects to assist with logistics coordination, in any given situation, the ultimate responsibility usually rests with the buyer. For example, during certain times of the year, it would be acceptable to ship totes or case goods in trailers that are not protected with refrigeration for considerable cost savings –but the responsibility of this choice should reside with the buyer.
Who will handle the shipment? Shipments are booked directly with a carrier or through a freight broker; regardless of which route you take, there are many details to consider to efficiently ship wine. There are several companies that offer freight-brokering services with knowledge of common transit lanes for numerous carriers that are able to provide multiple quotes fairly quickly. Some of these services come with higher broker margins than others, but the convenience afforded by the expertise may outweigh the additional expense. Some common freight brokers used domestically include:
Some examples of direct carriers for bulk include:
There are also companies that specialize in temperature-controlled van transport, one example being Advantage Transportation. Depending on the distance and time constraints, Fed-Ex Freight (non-temperature controlled) may be worth considering for direct booking of less-than-load (LTL) freight.
One of the first decisions for shipping wine is coordinating when it will be ready to ship and when it needs to arrive. Once a carrier is secured, the scheduling of load date(s) and time(s) should be done by the seller to help ensure hours, staffing, and wine status are aligned, and for more efficient re-scheduling if necessary.
If there is no temperature control being used, the weather during the trip will be a factor. If the receiving winery has an active tasting room, weekend deliveries may not be ideal. It is generally more efficient to establish delivery windows and then allow the affected winery to be the primary contact for scheduling and adjusting loading and receiving times.
It is frustrating to have someone stay late to load or receive a truck only to find out it has been delayed without communication or consideration of cellar staff schedules or workload. This oversight may also become costly as carriers typically retain the ability to charge more for excessive loading/unloading times.
Stay tuned for Part II, where we will dive into the ‘How’ of domestic bulk wine shipping.
What else? Have any feedback or other insights to share on the why, who, and when of domestic bulk wine shipping? Or another GrapeConnect blog topic all together? Leave a comment below!
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