New alcohol shipping options from K&L in California

Many wine and spirits lovers outside California have wanted options for shopping and shipping from K&L Wine Merchants, a well-known package store chain in California with locations in the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles. K&L often has single cask selections or limited release imports that can only be found at their shops.

Unfortunately, K&L doesn’t offer many options for shipping outside the state of California thanks to the labyrinth of complicated alcohol shipping laws across American states. There are package forwarders in California who would receive K&L orders and re-forward them to international addresses but not to other US states. Fortunately things have now changed.

K&L is now partnering with RareStorage, a California company, to receive and forward orders within the US. RareStorage currently only works with K&L, but says they’re working on expanding to support other wineries and retailers.

Let’s see what this means for shoppers in the US and overseas.

Shipping to a United States address

First, if you’re in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, Utah, or Vermont this won’t help you as Rare Spirits isn’t allowed to ship to these states. If you’re not in those states, here’s a map of shipping rates — essentially $35/case on the west coast, $45/case to central/plains states, and $55/case to the line of states starting with Missouri and going to the East coast. A case is twelve 750ml bottles. Now, before you get excited after looking at the map on the shipping rate page….

RareStorage isn’t actually available in all of the other states just yet, though. When I tried to create an order to Georgia I was only given offers to pick up at a K&L store. After talking to the team at RareStorage, I learned that they’re not everywhere at the moment but are working on expanding to other states over the coming months. They expect to ship to Georgia in early 2024.

Which states does RareStorage ship to?

As of 8 December 2023: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.

Note that K&L will also ship directly to some of these states via FedEx or other services, but some states (like Washington) are only available via RareStorage. Using RareStorage would also allow you to consolidate multiple purchases into one shipment over time — they will hold your bottles for free for 60 days.

You can use K&L’s Shipping Rates page to see if your zip code is shippable. RareStorage will show up as an option if available. If you’ve registered for a K&L account, I believe K&L will also send an email once your shipping address is added to the states that RareStorage supports.

When you check out with your K&L shopping cart, RareStorage will be an option for shipping if it’s available for your shipping address.

Shipping to an international (non-US) address

RareStorage says they don’t ship internationally at the moment, so the only way they’re useful is to ship bottles to friends (who can re-ship or hold them for you) or shipment forwarding services in states supported by RareStorage. I maintain a spreadsheet that tracks the current policies for these forwarders here. Not all forwarders accept alcohol (most don’t) because of the complex alcohol laws in the US. Also remember that the United States Postal Service is not allowed to ship alcohol, and if they find alcohol in your package, you’ve just lost those bottles.

It’s worth pointing out that K&L will ship wine (but not spirits) to Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.

Using RareStorage to forward to a forwarder.. and don’t forget sales tax

It’s possible to use RareStorage to forward your shipment to an international forwarder. Remember that you’ll be paying two different shipping fees to do this (RareStorage’s fee and the fee from your international forwarder). Also don’t forget that sales tax on your purchase will be charged by K&L in addition to the total of the bottles and that in San Francisco that’s almost 9%.

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