MikeL's Guide to WA Wineries
Out of State (border crossing)

note! If you have an international border story involving WA wine, please send email to mikel so I can include it (anonymously if you'd prefer) here.

Bringing wine from the US to Canada
It is prohibitively expensive for an individual to bring US wine into Canada. The rule is that you are allowed to bring into Canada 1.14 liters of wine duty-free if you have been out of the country for at least 48 hours. (Sometimes they let you bring two .750 liter bottles; sometimes not). If you have been gone less than 48 hours and/or you are over the limit, then they apply both federal and provincial taxes at the border. The provincial taxes vary, but in most provinces except Alberta, they are very high. In British Columbia (BC), they are about 100% and are applied to the purchase price.

Retailers (of which there are only a few) and the government liquor stores calculate the tax or markup based on the wholesale price. As a result, if you can find a wine in BC at all, it is cheaper to buy it there than to bring it across the border and pay a tax based on the US retail price.

Bringing wine from Canada to the US
On a trip to the Okanagon Valley (1998), my wife and I asked at each winery we visited how much wine we could bring back with us to the states across the border. No two stories agreed, though the main theme was: You can bring back 1.5 liters (2 bottles) no problem, but more than that you'll have to pay tax in the neighborhood of $0.25/bottle.

We ended up coming back through Blaine after 5 days in BC with almost 2 cases. We left them clearly visible in the back seat of the car. When the officer asked if we had anything to declare, my wife stated "we bought some wine" and pointed over her shoulder to the boxes, one of which was open showing bottle tips. The officer looked at them through the window, and asked to see in the trunk. She popped it open, he looked at the spare tire, said "thank you", and had us move on. We decided to move on as suggested, rather than to ask for details of the laws.

On a previous occasion in the late 1980's, my wife and I attended a wedding in BC and were there only for a day. We came back through Blaine with 3 bottles of BC wines, declared them, and were not taxed or hindered in any way.

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