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These wines fly for free

Alaska Airlines lets you check a case of wine for free
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A new promotion to boost Oregon wine sales, called Oregon Wines Fly Free, runs through Nov. 20. Photo illustration by Jamie Lusch / RevelsJamie Lusch
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 10, 2013

Passengers flying into Oregon on Alaska Airlines through Nov. 20 will be allowed to check a case of wine for free on the return flight out of Medford, Portland or Eugene.

While here, the promotion also grants them free tasting privileges at about 250 wineries, including Ashland's Belle Fiore Winery and Grizzly Peak Winery and Talent's Ledger David Cellars and Trium Wines.

Many local wine producers see the promotion as larger than saving $20 on checked-bag fees for a case of wine. It's a way, they say, to help grow the industry beyond state boundaries.

Removing the hassle of transporting wine may increase tourism and wine-industry traffic as it did in Walla Walla, Wash., when Alaska Airlines started a similar program there less than two years ago.

Now, the airline is handling 30 cases of Walla Walla wine a week compared to two cases before the program.

The Oregon Wines Fly Free program is the first time the airline has extended the promotion to an entire state.

In the Rogue Valley, participants include the oldest wine producers and newer, smaller ones.

All share a common concern: Too often, tourists say no to buying wine because it's tough to get it home.

To have a case of wine delivered by UPS to say, Mesa, Ariz., there is the $8 cost for packing materials, $27.16 to send it plus $4.75 to obtain an adult signature.

Fees are just part of the expense.

It's time-consuming for tasting room owners to fill out the paperwork and adhere to restrictions and state compliance issues. They have to have special permits and keep a log of shipments to pay that state's taxes.

Scheduling ground shipments requires strategizing, too, to dodge wine-damaging heat conditions. Pricier one-day shipping solves the issue for wine sent to California, Washington and Nevada addresses.

At most wineries, shipments won't be sent out unless temperatures are below 85 degrees from portal to portal, which means some people have to wait to get their wine, but now they can take it home right away.

Wine producers hope the promotion will also show more people how easy it is to fly with wine.

It may help other local businesses, too.

Laura Lotspeich of Trium Wines thinks that if tourists don't have to squeeze bottles into their suitcases, they will pack other items.

"Tourists can also take back some great cheese or chocolates," she says.

Marketing Director Porscha Schiller of South Stage Cellars in Jacksonville already has heard of benefits from the promotion.

"Out-of-state regulars tell me that they're rethinking their choice of airlines," she says. "They want to get free shipping."

See a complete list of participating Oregon wineries at

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