7 Best Ways to Sell Your Wine
You may know that selling wine is not necessarily as easy as going on Craigslist or eBay. In fact, there are certain hoops you need to jump in order to do it legally. To find out more about how to sell wine and sales laws, keep reading.
Wine Sale Laws
If you want to sell alcohol online, there are a few licenses and permits you need to obtain. They may include:
- a basic permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
- retailer’s license for your state
- winery license from your state
- registration with the TTB prior to online sales
- shipper’s license for every state you plan on shipping to
- Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) license to ship out of state
But the fee you will pay depends on where you live.
You should keep in mind that certain states don’t receive DTC wine shipments, which means that you can’t ship to them even after getting the right licenses. In addition to this, some states only allow wineries to ship directly to consumers, and they may also have maximum alcohol allowances.
There are generally more states that do not permit retailer shipping than ones that do. This is due to tighter regulations on wine and alcohol crossing state lines. At this point, consumers from all but 14 states cannot receive wine from out of state retailers. That includes wine from online retailers and wine clubs.
On the other hand, people in 42 states are allowed to obtain DTC shipping licenses. So it’s easier to receive wine directly from wineries. To further complicate matters, California, New Mexico, and Idaho have reciprocal shipping agreements for retailers. This means that if another state allows their retailer to ship DTC, these states will allow the same.
Shipping Via Personal Sales
Furthermore, it’s important to note that it is illegal in all states for a consumer to personally ship wine to someone else. If you were hoping to sell wine on eBay, you should know that it’s illegal except for pre-approved sellers. And listing alcohol on Craigslist is forbidden, with no exceptions.
Of course, you could also export your wine internationally. The global wine market is booming and you may make a lot of money doing so. But just like individual state laws, you have to adhere to the restrictions of the country you’re shipping to.
At the very least, you need to take the following into consideration before shipping internationally:
- product shipping restrictions
- package preparation
- customs paperwork
Generally, unless you have a massive amount of wine to sell, it may not be worth it to export overseas. For smaller-scale sales, you can check out some domestic options listed below.
Ways to Sell Your Wine
Selling your wine is not a simple or easy process, especially if it involves a private collection. However, if you absolutely need to do it, here are your best options:
1. Auction House/Consignment – Internet
First, there are plenty of eBay-style auctions where you can safely and legally sell your wine online. Websites like Winebid.com generally have auctions every week. Also, they consign anything you're selling, as long as you’re honest about the provenance and condition.
This is also one of the rare avenues that will accept individual bottles for sale. This is good news for you because it means you may not need to sell in combination lots. However, websites such as this one sell many bottles per week. That means you may not see your wine sold for several weeks.
2. Auction House - Traditional
If you have a large collection, you may want to consider a traditional auction house. Generally, they only accept lots that have a minimum value of $2,500 or more. You’ll also have to account for the fees and commissions necessary for the auction.
But if you have a very valuable collection, wine auctions may be your best bet. Think along the lines of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Zachys. Selling to traditional auction houses takes a lot of research though. Before you choose one, consider these points:
- What are the fees and commissions?
- What are the shipping costs to the auction house?
- Which auction house sells the type of wine you’re selling for the most money?
- How often do they hold auctions?
Keep in mind that these auction houses tend to only deal in wines that have great provenance or are rare. If you have younger wine, you’ll get less than the average wholesale prices. So, if that’s the case for you, you may want to explore other options.
3. Wine Forums – Sell Locally
Are you connected with other wine aficionados via forums or a club? If you are, this is another viable avenue to sell your wine. With websites like wineberserkers.com, you can ask if anyone’s interested in the wines in your collection, keeping your sale private.
But remember that shipping is still illegal without the proper licenses and permits. So you need to make sure your transactions are local and the buyers can pick up the wine. The problem with this option is that you may have to deal with people who want to haggle or who refuse to pay.
4. Online Merchants
Going through online retailers is another relatively simple way to sell wine online. They buy your wine from you and add it to their own retail stock, so provenance needs to be very good.
This is not a fast sale, though some retailers claim that they can do the entire process within 24 hours. Retailers generally need time for valuation and to check the documentation, if any. Some online merchants buy single bottles as well as entire collections.
There are even retailers who will accept labels that are less than impeccable. It really does depend on who you contact.
If you’re interested in looking further into straight purchase from retailers, you can try the following websites:
- K&L – based in San Francisco, CA, buys directly and has wine auctions, 0% seller's fee for store credit
- Cellaraiders – based in Connecticut, like to focus on Bordeaux, Napa, Burgundy, does appraisals
- Aabalat Fine & Rare Wines – based in Petaluma, CA, focuses on Port, French, California, and French wines
- Wine.com – offers free appraisals, collections need to be at least $10,000 or $50 individually
- Maison du Prix – straight cash purchases, no minimums
- Falcon Vintners – focuses on fine Italian wine, straight cash purchases, brokerage services
- Veritas Wine Buyers – based in Westchester County, NY, promises quick payments, simple process, high prices
- Epic Cellars – locations in California and Illinois, payments received after 24-hours of receiving and inspecting wines
- Sokolin – based Long Island, NY, consignments, free appraisals, straight purchases
5. Online Trading Platforms
Online wine trading platforms are another option. These are generally not for quick sales. Instead, wine connoisseurs are able to buy, sell, and store wine in the platform’s warehouse.
If you’re hoping to sell on the global market, this is one of the simplest ways to do it. You’re obliged to store your wine at the platform’s warehouse, and they generally deal with the logistics of shipping internationally.
Although online trading platforms are a good way to sell peer-to-peer, they are unnecessarily complicated if you only want to sell on a small scale. In this case, word of mouth in your inner circles is your best bet. Use your social network to get the word out about the wines you want to sell.
It’s important that you make sure that your sales are local, though. The rules and restrictions still apply, and that means it’s illegal for you to ship alcohol without the proper permits.
7. Sell It Yourself via Your Own Retail Website
Last but not least, you can sell your wine online yourself. If you are willing to get all the necessary permits and licensing, this is a viable option for you. We recommend it to people who plan on selling wine on an on-going basis. This option is not optimal for getting rid of a collection, but if you plan on going into business selling wine, this is the option that makes sense.
Wine sale laws are complicated to navigate and getting the proper paperwork can be very expensive. So, if you want to sell your wine collection, your best option may be to go to a third party. They have the appropriate documentation in place to get the wine off your hands. And you should also get a fair price for it.
If you have an exceptional wine collection, though, you may want to try a traditional auction. These take longer to coordinate and may be more expensive. However, if you have rare or flawless wines in your collection, this may be an opportunity to get the best price.
Finally, you can always go the peer-to-peer route. This means going on your favorite wine forums or utilizing your own social network. Keep in mind, though, that it’s illegal to ship wine. So your selling activities need to take place locally, and the buyers must pick up the wine themselves.