A Review of the VinGardeValise Wine Suitcase
As a wine, food and travel writer, I’m always interested in visiting wineries, sampling wine and enjoying the relaxed pace of wine travel. Argentina’s stunning Mendoza wine region at the foothills of the Andes, Australia’s verdant Yarra Valley, and Tuscany, home to Italy’s most scenic vineyards, are just a few of my favorites.
It’s not enough to just visit famous wine regions and sample some of the world’s finest wines. You know you’ll fall in love with a few that must come home to your wine cellar.
But how do you safely transport them? I’ve wrapped wine bottles in t-shirts stuffed deep into my suitcase. Fingers crossed, I prayed they would make it home intact. I’ve tried wineskins, the bubble wraps sealable protective packages shaped like a wine bottle. They work but take up too much room in my luggage, with no assurance against breakage. Then I discovered the VinGardeValise. A deluxe hardbody configurable suitcase, it’s designed to safely transport up to 12 bottles of precious wine with room for some clothing.
“This is perfect for our next trip!” I said to my husband, Gary. Headed to Portugal first, we would visit the Azores, Lisbon, and the Alentejo wine region, best known for its red wines. The second half of our trip would take us to the southern Rhone Valley where we would visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
The VinGardeValise comes in two sizes, the Grande and the Petite, ranging in price from $249.99 to $329.99. The Grande holds up to 12 bottles of wine and the Petite holds up to eight. Because we were traveling by train in France, I chose the Petite for easier mobility.
The wine suitcase has a thick polycarbonate exterior with a ribbed design for greater durability. Color choices include burgundy, silver or black matte. Each well is fitted with sturdy foam inserts designed to safely hold regular size 750 ml wine bottles. The wine cavities are specially designed to hold a combination of bottles from traditional Bordeaux and Burgundy to Riesling and Champagne. They are configurable, depending on the size and shape of the wine bottle, by adding or removing smaller pieces of foam. To secure the bottles in place, additional foam pads cover the opening of each side of the suitcase. These can be strapped in and secured further with cloth covers that zip closed around them. “This looks great,” I remark to myself. My future purchases will be snug and protected. No more worrying about breaking expensive wine bottles on the way home!
The best part about the cloth covers that zip around each well is they can be used for limited storage. Pockets on either side can hold socks, shoes, shirts. I stuffed mine with a folded Longchamp purse, bathing suit, cover-up, and flip-flops. I even took out the foam insert that goes between the two wells and replaced it with my large eBags packing cube filled with pants and tops. I don’t know if the manufacturer would recommend it, but I found the added padding safely replaced the foam insert. Most importantly, it allowed the VinGardeValise to function as a wine and a clothing suitcase.
The suitcase’s asymmetrical Hinomoto wheels make it easy to maneuver. Firm, hinged lift handles are attached on the top and side for picking it and loading. Made from aircraft-grade aluminum, the sturdy telescoping handle is adjustable. I found it convenient to plop my carry-on suitcase on top of the VinGardeValise, wheeling my luggage in front of me.
A flush-mounted TSA compliant lock, easy to reset with your preferred combination, secures and protects your precious purchases. It even comes with a homing pin lost luggage locator accessory. What a great idea!
Best of all, like a designer purse, the VinGardeValise comes with its own storage bag, with drawstrings, to keep it dust-free when it’s not in use.
Each suitcase is configurable with removable inserts. There are even additional inserts available for beer, wine glasses, and spirits. I chose to leave one of the inserts out so I could stow my toiletries in it and check it under the plane. That reduced my wine storage capacity to six bottles, but I quickly developed a strategy on my trip for making the most out of those six spots.
It didn’t seem right to travel with a wine suitcase that had no wine in it. So I loaded a couple of bottles of wine from my wine cellar to take with us, just in case we had a “wine emergency.” They quickly disappeared in the Azores only to be replaced with delicious white blends from Portugal. Wines purchased in the Azores traveled safely with us to a rented apartment in Lisbon. We visited the famous Esporao Winery in the Alentejo and simply had to bring one white and two red blends with us. Fortunately, there was room in the VinGardeValise!
Now we had a strategy! As we travel, drink the less expensive wines and save spots for the “treasures.” From Lisbon, we headed to the south of France to visit the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation. Traveling by train, my hunch was right. The VinGardeValise Petite was the perfect size for this mode of travel. Easily stored on its side in the luggage rack, we sat in our chairs and relaxed, excited to travel along the beautiful Rhone River, knowing our wine was secure.
A tasting at one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s most well-known wineries, Domain du Vieux Telegraphe, yielded two more bottles. A grenache and the Les Palliers, a light dry and delicious rose, filled the last two spots in the VinGardeValise.
With our wine adventure over, we headed back home, our wine purchases safely secured. If you love wine travel, as I do, you’ll love traveling with this practical, sturdy wine suitcase. Wine travel made safe and worry-free with the VinGardeValise!