5 Must-haves for Your Next Trip to Wine Country

Including padded wine bags, TSA-friendly corkscrews, and even a wine suitcase!

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Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

August marks the beginning of harvest season in most wine regions in the Northern Hemisphere, which means wine lovers across the globe are gearing up for a visit to their favorite wine country — or an adventure to a new region they have yet to explore this fall.

As a Californian and avid explorer of wine regions everywhere, I've come to savor the unique mix of leisure and adventure that comes with wine tourism. Sprawling vineyards punctuated by cozy tasting rooms and farmhouses create an atmosphere that invites you to slow down and soak it all in. Meanwhile, tasting locally-produced wines and getting to know the local geography and culture motivates you to explore as much as you can during your trip.

Wine country is not only a place for tasting unforgettable wine and food, but also for hiking, biking, and wandering through picturesque vineyards. As a visitor, there are a few essentials you should bring with you to make sure you're able to get as much out of your visit while you're there and safely bring a few souvenir bottles back home to share with friends. Keep scrolling for the five must-haves anyone traveling to wine country should absolutely bring.

Monkkino Wine Bottle Travel Protector Bags

Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Courtesy of Amazon

Growing up in California and coming from a wine-drinking family, I often find myself packing a bottle or two to take back with me after a visit home. It's rarely enough to fill an entire wine case so I usually leave that at home and just pack the bottles directly in my checked bag.

In the dark days before I discovered these inflatable wine bags, I was just wrapping bottles in sweaters and praying to Bacchus that my clothes weren't covered in wine stains and broken glass when I got home.

Now, I just toss a few inflatable wine bags in my suitcase before I leave and slip the bottles in them for the return trip. It costs less than $10 for a set of eight bags and the hand pump to inflate them. Each bag is perfectly sized to accommodate one bottle of wine, though they strain a bit to fit slightly wider sparkling wine bottles.

Once inside, the inflated top folds down to enclose the bottle in a shock-resistant cushioned case. Then, you can just place them in your checked baggage and pack as normal. I've also found that they're handy for other valuables you might want to pack (like glassware).

While a full travel wine case offers more protection and is better if you know you'll be hauling six or more bottles with you, these affordable bags are great for smaller hauls or for squeezing in an extra bottle or two in your luggage if you filled your case but still keep discovering new "must-have" wines on your tasting tour.

To buy: amazon.com, $9 for set of 8

VinGardeValise Travel Wine Case

Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Courtesy of Amazon

This reinforced hardshell case is filled with high-density foam inserts with space for up to 12 bottles. There are also additional inserts you can swap in to pack wine glasses, spirits, beer, or magnum bottles of wine.

Most importantly, the suitcase is designed to be lightweight enough that even if you do fully load it with 12 bottles, the whole case will still weigh less than 50 pounds. So, no need to worry about overweight bag fees! Of course, that's based on standard bottle weights of 3.2 pounds so if you're packing magnums or other non-standard bottles, you might still want to check the weight before you head to the airport.

As impeccably designed as this travel wine case is, it's definitely priced to match. So if you don't think you need the 12-bottle capacity, you might want to opt for a smaller, more affordable case like this padded six-bottle tote that goes for just $28 on Amazon. It's not padded or durable enough to be checked on its own, but it is small enough to fit in your checked bag and provides enough cushioning that your bottles should make it home safe.

To buy: amazon.com, $369

IPOW Wing Corkscrew

Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Courtesy of Amazon

As someone who's had a handful of corkscrews confiscated by TSA over the years, I finally got serious and researched the rules on flying with corkscrews. It turns out only some corkscrews are prohibited. They just happened to be precisely the cheaper ones I kept buying to replace the confiscated ones: the multi-purpose folding corkscrews that often come with a small blade that flips out of the handle so you can cut the foil on a wine bottle. That blade is what you can't bring on an airplane.

Even traveling with a TSA-compliant corkscrew, however, I've still had the occasional grumpy agent who confiscates it anyway so I recommend leaving your high-end electric corkscrews at home and picking up a cheap (but blade-free) corkscrew specifically for traveling.

My go-to is a wing corkscrew like this IPOW Wine opener because it's easy to use, doesn't take up too much space in your bag, and is still affordable, so your trip won't be ruined if it gets confiscated or lost while out on a wine tasting tour.

To buy: amazon.com, $12 (originally $15)

OXO Steel Expanding Wine Stoppers

Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Courtesy of Amazon

No trip to wine country is complete without an impromptu picnic where you crack open a few of the bottles you've picked up so far. While you can generally squeeze the cork back into a bottle if you don't finish it, it won't create an effective seal.

Silicone stoppers like these OXO steel expanding wine stoppers not only preserve carbonation and freshness, but they also prevent leaks. Once inserted, the silicone expands against the walls of the bottle to create a fit so precise, you can store the bottle lying down without it leaking. I've gone on a couple of cycling tours through wine country and I can say that transporting open bottles in a bike basket over dirt roads without leak-proof stoppers is not recommended.

To buy: amazon.com, $12 for set of two

Simple Modern Wine Tumbler and Bottle Set

Amazon Wine Travel Kitchenware
Courtesy of Amazon

While wine stoppers are handy for reds (or when you're in close proximity to a fridge), if you're taking a wine that needs to be chilled, you'll need an insulated bottle that can keep it cold while you're out exploring. For that, I love this Simple Modern bottle and tumbler set. The double-walled, vacuum insulated bottle is the right size to fit an entire 750-milliliter bottle of wine and the matching tumblers are also insulated so your wine will be kept chilled in the bottle and after you pour. The tumblers also come with spill-resistant press on lids so you can go on a boozy hike through grapevine-draped hills without leaving a trail of spilled wine behind you.

To buy: amazon.com, $45

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