Refining Wine Transportation for Discerning Connoisseurs and Collectors

By: Brian Hart

In the realm of wine connoisseurship and collection, wine accessories are nearly as important as the wine itself.  The experience of drinking an exquisite wine is greatly enhanced if you open the bottle in with a rare Laguiole corkscrew, aerate in a Baccarat decanter, or are drinking out of Zwiesel 1872 glasses.  Similarly, the act of bringing a special bottle to an important occasion can elevate the experience, in particular with the type of carrier used to bring the bottle itself.  Accessories are supporting actors on a stage supporting the major player, wine.  Drinking a 1982 Bordeaux out of a dixie cup would not draw applause from most wine enthusiasts, and neither would toting it in a brown paper bag. Accessories make sharing a bottle of wine more rich, intimate, and enjoyable, and the choice of wine carrier—while often overlooked by everyday wine drinkers—is just as important to discerning wine lovers as is the choice of glass.

When it comes to selecting the accessories, collectors and connoisseurs prioritize two fundamental factors: function and style.  We all start our life with wine focusing on the former—a basic corkscrew and some wine glasses to get the job done, perhaps one set of glasses for red and another for white.  Once these bare necessities are covered, those of us who develop a passion for wine eventually shift our attention to the latter and upgrade to fit our preferences, desires, and own personal style. When it comes to wine carriers, the average wine drinker will continue to use his/her neoprene wine tote, or something similar, acquired early on into their foray with wine, for their BYOB or travel.  Those who take their wine more seriously require something better, both in the terms of function and style. Vinarmour carriers and totes are unique in that they offer wine enthusiasts both superior function and the style and elegance they are seeking in wanting to enrich their wine experiences.

Wine bags, carriers and totes have two functions:  to carry a bottle to an occasion (i.e. BYOB), and travel (i.e. taking a bottle to, or bringing a bottle back from vacation).  In carrying around town there are many times where a wine bag that exudes luxury and sophistication is called for.  In many states it is legal to bring wine into restaurants, and bringing a bottle from the cellar can not only save big on the tab but also can provide an interesting story at the table. How many of us have gotten a hairy eyeball from the sommelier at an upscale restaurant when we hand him or her a vintage bottle, housed in a pedestrian neoprene tote?  Certainly there are occasions where refined esthetics are called for, and TRAVEL AND LEISURE magazine sums it up best by describing our products as “stunning.” Our wine carriers are distinguished by their elegant designs and refined aesthetics, making them coveted accessories for collectors who appreciate sophistication. The leather handles and straps are made with Horween’s Chromexcel® leather, revered in the fashion industry for generations as being amongst the most durable and elegant leathers ever made.  To look at, feel, and smell Chromexcel leather is to be flooded with sensual pleasures, not unlike when presented with a glass of vintage grand cru Burgundy.  The body of our carriers is made with waxed canvas milled in Dundee, Scotland, by the great pioneers of the fabric, Halley Stevensons.  Esteemed companies such as Barbour and Patagonia, rely on Halley Stevenson’s for apparel and luggage that require both unparalleled durability and heritage esthetics.  Their materials has stood the test of time since the middle of the 18th century.  Whether you prefer the timeless allure of our minimalist design or the opulent charm of luxurious finishes, the Vinarmour Wine Carrier turns heads wherever it goes.

Both the leather and waxed cotton develop a unique and handsome patina over time, becoming more beautiful with age and use.  Each carrier develops its own personal character, molded and influenced by the journey’s of the owner.  As two of nature’s most durable materials, these carriers are capable of lasting through generations of use, and like fine set of glasses, may be passed on as an heirloom to the next generation of wine lovers in the family.

In terms of function, wine professionals find the Vinarmour wine carrier is unparalleled in what it delivers. FORBES believes it to be the safest way to transport wine and recommended it the first year Vinarmour was commercially available. Jason Wise, the producer/director of the SOMM film series, states: “The Vinarmour is one of the best constructed, designed, and useful inventions I have used in the wine trade, full stop.  I use it personally and professionally, in fact I am using it to transport a priceless wine across California as I write this for the next film I am directing.” Greg Lambrecht, the inventor of the Coravin, lamented at the 2023 Aspen Food and Wine Classic that he had accidentally left his Vinarmour Wine Carrier at home when visiting Australia, and had a vintage bottle of Penfolds Grange break on the way back when he tried to protect it wrapped in clothing.  He vowed never to travel without it ever again.

wine bottle broken on airplane
Coravin founder Greg Lambrecht’s prized Penfolds Grange that didn’t make the flight home.

Most of us find out early in life that bottles can and do indeed break, and as we get older those of us who have spent a lot of time around wine bottles usually have a story or two about a wine bottle that didn’t end well.

We started developing our travel bag by first focusing on preventing the bottle from breaking.  Once we check in our baggage it is anyone’s guess as to what peril may lie between you and your destination, and it was essential for us to find a fabric that could handle the burliest of baggage handlers who was having a bad day.  We sourced foams from all over the world and finally found PoronXRD®, a high-tech material that absorbs 90% of impact energy.  We even dropped lead weights on top of it covering a bottle and compared it to all of the other “protective” wine travel bags available on the American market, and found it to be vastly superior to all of them in protecting a bottle.  Furthermore, this material has excellent memory—meaning that the bag could be folded onto itself repeatedly over the years without developing creases.

While providing impact protection better than any other travel bag is admirable, it wasn’t bulletproof.  There could still be events that could cause a catastrophic break in the bottle and hundreds of shards of razor-sharp glass could puncture a waterproof layer.  We researched all of the manufacturers, domestic and foreign, who make cut and puncture proof fabrics and put them through rigorous testing.  Ultimately, a combination of Dyneema—the world’s strongest fabric–and two different types of Kevlar (used in the manufacturing of military body armor) was found to offer unsurpassed puncture resistance.

Nearly all current wine travel bags rely on a Ziploc-like closure system.  But there are two problems with that.  The first is that these closures are notorious for being technique-sensitive.  In other words, unless the “zipper” is sealed perfectly, it will leak.  Vinarmour took all of the guesswork out of the equation by developing a simple quarter-turn closure system, with the sound of a “click” tells the owner that the bag is hermetically sealed.

Until this point of time, no one had yet developed a bag—for wine or otherwise—that could resist impact, puncture, and leaking.  It took a wine accessories company—Vinarmour—to develop and patent the first one.  The result is a veritable impenetrable shield against the perils of transportation.  And although the Wine Carrier is vastly superior to anything else in protecting the bottle from harm, it also is superior in protecting the wine inside the bottle as well.  The protective layers of PoronXRD®, Kevlar, TPU, and an eco-fleece lining all combine to maintain bottle temperature better than any other wine bag.  In July of 2023, founder and CEO Brian Hart was visiting Vinarmour’s first retailer, the Oakville Grocery in Napa Valley with outside temperatures of 100 degrees.  He put identical bottles of Sauvignon Blanc into a Vinarmour Wine Carrier and a neoprene thermal tote (considered the industry standard fore keeping bottles chilled).  After 80 minutes in the sweltering heat the wine in the Vinarmour bag was 16 degrees cooler than the wine contained within the neoprene.

Insulated wine carrier
The Vinarmour Wine Carrier kept its bottle 16 degrees cooler than the neoprene tote after 80 minutes in the California sunshine.

Wine accessories are used for various reasons in the world of wine.  One always needs the basics–corkscrew and glasses at the start, but as our tastes and desires get more refined, so do the requirements of our accessories.  Collectors and connoisseurs value accoutrements that are a marriage of style and function, and in that regard Vinarmour Carriers and Totes are the perfect choice.