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Buying wine direct from the maker is both romantic and practical, and it can save money. Most wine areas have plenty of producers willing to sell at the winery gate. Some places make a holiday out of buying, with guided tours, shops, picnic areas and even restaurants. In other places, especially in Europe, it is more a matter of picking up a few bottles at the cellar door.

Most direct sellers provide tastings. The proprietor hopes you will buy after tasting, and it is normal to buy a couple of bottles unless the wine is bad. It is hard to make an instant judgement about a wine, and it you are keen to find a good source of supply in a locality it pays to buy samples from several places and taste them at your leisure.

New World wineries often have a wide range of wine styles on offer. In Europe most makers will be specialists, though in many regions both red and white wines will be found. Buying direct thus limits your choice. Many wine lovers buy from three or tour producers in different regions. It is pleasant to build up a relationship with them, and to observe the way their vintages differ and develop.

There is a small amount of essential paperwork in buying direct. Be sure to get a receipt, and keep it, especially if you are buying in a country not your own and taking the wine home. Find out the regulations about taxes and other possible restrictions before you buy, particularly in large quantities.
Transporting the wine must be considered. A few bottles in the back of the car will be no problem, but remember that a car in summer is a buying in a country not your own and taking the wine home. Find out the regulations about taxes and other possible restrictions before you buy, particularly in large quantities.

Transporting the wine must be considered. A few bottles in the back of the car will be no problem, but remember that a car in summer is a bad environment for wine: it can be ruined by high temperatures. Wine is heavy: a case of 12 standard-sized bottles weighs about 18kg (411bs); more if the cases are wooden ones or if the estate uses expensive, heavy bottles. Adding a few cases to a heavily laden holiday car may overload the suspension. For large amounts, consider a special buying trip in spring or autumn. This avoids warm weather and crowded roads, and the wine producers will have more time to talk. No-one, however, will be very pleased to see you at harvest time.

 
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