How to Manage the Logistics of Exporting Wine (Ex-cellar vs. CIF vs. Delivered)

So far, we’ve identified your opportunity to export wine, we’ve discussed what to consider when sourcing your wines.  How do you get the wine to your customers abroad? Who can you trust to manage the export process from the US, and ensure that your import process goes smoothly on the other end?

As it turns out, there is an entire industry built around getting your wine from, say, California to China.  These people are called ‘freight forwarders,’ and a good freight forwarder is your lifeline as a wine exporter.

A container ship in Hong Kong harbor. I think I see our wine on there!

A container ship in Hong Kong harbor. I think I see our wine on there!

The terms of the deal with your customer will dictate which party engages the freight forwarding service.  Make sure these terms arGenerally speaking, there are three arrangements with regards to wine exporting terms:

  • Ex-cellar: The buyer pays a fixed price and is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation and duties charged at customs. Similar to ex-warehouse pricing. This situation is preferred, since your customer will most likely far more capable in clearing customs in their home country.  Ex-cellar terms are the only terms we operate on, since it allows us to focus our energies and capabilities on sourcing and blending great wines. 
  • CIF: The price includes ‘Cost, Insurance, Freight.’ In this case, the seller is responsible for all costs (excluding duties) of bringing the wines from the winery in California to the port in China. It is the buyers’ responsibility to pay for duties and to bring the wines through customs
  • Delivered: the price includes all transportation, taxes, and duties for transport from the winery in California to the distributor in China.  This is the most difficult way to export, and I would not advise it for an inexperienced exporter.

If you decide to work on different terms than ex-cellar, make sure you have an excellent freight forwarder that you trust!  

If you'd like to learn more about exporting wines, take a look at our free Wine Exporting eBook.

If you'd like to see how we help clients achieve their custom winemaking goals, please enjoy this Custom Winemaking Case Study.

Just like anything worth doing in business, it is imperative to make sure you have the right partners.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to shoot us a note!