Comparing the Options for Bulk Wine Transport

According to the California Wine Institute, California is the #1 wine producing state in the US and is the world’s 4th leading wine producing region after France, Italy, and Spain. When you factor in imports and exports, bulk wine transport is a significant economic driver in the northwestern region. It represents a bulk liquid cargo that must be efficiently, cost-effectively, and safely moved across, into, and out of the U.S. This means that large and small vineyards, winemakers, distributors, and wine-sellers must make critical decisions regarding the best method of bulk wine transportation.

Penn Lease Bulk Liquid Chassis- Penn Lease

When compared to the other bulk food grade liquids that are being transported across the country and around the world, wine is one of the easiest to damage during transportation. The product requires a steady temperature range between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit – a deviation from which can ruin the product thus making it undrinkable.

As the U.S. wine market continues to expand, producers must find ways to maximize transport volume while minimizing costs and spoilage when shipping wine internationally and domestically.

Traditional Wine Shipping Containers

Traditional wine shipping in containers by the case is an expensive solution designed to preserve the product while facilitating retail sales. Shipping wine in consumer-ready bottles ensures that they are ready for sale upon delivery and minimizes the possibility of contamination. However, much higher costs are incurred as a result of the need for additional packing materials to prevent breakage, increased shipping weight, and the greater difficulty of consistent temperature control.

Bulk Wine Transportation Utilizing Flexi-Tanks and Food Grade Tankers

Producers are looking for lower cost options such as Flexi-tanks and food grade tank containers to achieve higher shipping volumes of grape juice and wine at a lower cost and with greater quality control options. However, each method of bulk liquid transportation has its pros and cons, so producers must weigh them carefully in order to decide how to best transport their bulk products.

Pros and Cons of Food Grade ISO Tanks for Shipping Wine

Stainless steel ISO tank containers are hollowed containers that are a safe and reliable way to transport bulk wine.

  • Provide refrigerated transport
  • Storage options to dramatically increase the volume of wine that can be transported per shipment
  • Safe and reliable
  • Elimination of bottle and label damage during transport


  • Bottling and packaging are required at its destination before the wine can be sold to consumers.
  • ISO Tanks must be meticulously cleaned and sterilized to eliminate contamination or oxidation from occurring.

Pros and Cons of Flexi-Tanks for Shipping Wine

FlexiBags (Flexi-tanks) are large single-use bladders that can be transported in Flexitanks Versus ISO Tank Containers for Bulk Liquid Transportation - Penn Intermodal Leasing, Incstandard shipping containers. FlexiBags come sterilized but are intended for disposable after a one-time use.


  • Various sizes of available up to 26,000 liters of wine to fit various shipping volumes
  • Low risk of contamination
  • Safe and reliable


  • Bottling and packaging are required at its destination before the wine can be sold to consumers.
  • Requires refrigerated carrier for temperature control

Bulk Wine Transportation by Dropframe Chassis

Both Flexibags and tank containers may be transported on drop-frame chassis. The newest models are being constructed at lighter weights with stronger reinforced necks and frames to provide greater transport stability for bulk liquid loads that have a tendency to shift in transit. In addition, these chassis can be outfitted with refrigeration units and can provide storage options in addition to transport capabilities, which can potentially reduce warehousing costs.

As technological improvements in containers, chassis, and refrigeration evolves, we expect this trend toward Flexi-tanks that offer both quality control and cost-effective transport solutions to wine producers to continue.

April Uhlenburg
April U

April has been working with Penn Intermodal’s Sales and Operations teams to educate clients on the benefits of leasing chassis for bulk liquid storage and transport since 2012.