We had grown complacent. Possibly arrogant. We’d done this before. What could go wrong? In the end, we found out, and what a mess we had.
All wineries we visited in Tasmania had a reasonable policy: tastings are free if you buy a bottle. Most wines we enjoyed in country, but there were many we wanted to bring home. We had beers and ciders to truck back. This all made for heavy baggage- we incurred a steep weight charge flying from Hobart to Melbourne before beginning our Great Ocean Road journey. Now we know: pay for excess weight before you get to the terminal. All was well flying in to Melbourne. Our real test would be the return flight home.
No small winery in Tasmania will ship to the US, Cascade doesn’t sell off the island, and shipping is far too expensive, so the only way any of our spoils were getting to the US was in our checked bags. We finagled a way to avoid paying any checked bag fees so we acquired a box, padded it with clothes, carefully wrapped each bottle in clothes, and checked it. These 12 bottles were in addition to 10 bottles in each of our checked bags. This was per our standard procedure on trips, and we have lost only one bottle in the past.
Our bags became more lost than they ever have before (lesson learned: check your bag tag and make sure the agent puts the correct tag on your bag!). They were magically found, the damage was done. Two bottles lost in the box and two in my bag, never to be enjoyed at home! Tiny glass shards all through my duffel bag meant it had to be tossed. Wine soaked most of our clothes (which washed out easily, except a shirt of Susan’s which acquired a cool tie-dye effect).
After, we found several excellent discussions on checking bags, and have resolved to use a dedicated shipping container, ideally contained within one of our bags for flying out and then checked for flying home. In the end, our loot is still exciting, but now we have learned our lesson- use a purpose-built wine bottle check bag.