Are wine clubs worth it?
My parents joined a wine club for a winery about two years ago. They don't drink much wine, but the wine had sentimental value to them. They love their wine club and tend to recommend it to friends.
Otherwise, I don't have much experience with wine clubs. Are they worth it?
Are winery wine clubs better than wine clubs that you can find through a retailer/third party? Does anyone have any rants or raves about it? Recommendations?
I agree with Amanda. i recently joined 2 clubs and it was because they promise to send wines I can't get at home. I think 3 things are improtant, can you get wines not available elsewhere, are you near the winery to take advantage of any specials and how do you get out if you want to. We'll see on the last part!
Nov 11, 2011 at 2:10pm
You also will get your wine at a discounted price, can be anywhere from 15-40% (depending on the winery) off the retail price. You get special case price offers (including reserve wines), invites to events at the winery (or events they participate in) such as winemaker dinners or harvest festivals, some wineries send special gifts with their shipments or even magnums for the holidays, discounts on re-ordering wine, free tastings at the winery for you and your guests, etc.
Nov 11, 2011 at 2:47pm
I hate shopping for wine in the supermarket. I don't know the wineries or the vintages well enough. One day, while travelling around Washington wine country, we found a winery that produced a number of wines that we liked. We joined their wine club (and eventually two more) and I've never had to wonder about what wine to buy since. The case discount on wines we discover that we really like is also much appreciated.
Nov 11, 2011 at 2:50pm
They can be good, depending on what you want to drink and what's available near your home. I belong to about 7 or 8 clubs currently and 10 or so over all. I join clubs of wineries I visit and whose wine I like and know is hard to find near my home or those whose wine we really enjoy and want to receive regularly. I agree with others above that the biggest benefit is obtaining wine that isn't available locally and with some wineries getting the deep discounts from time to time.
As for dropping wine clubs, most that I have belonged to want two or three shipments and then you can drop them. I have never had a problem; you just write to them and tell them you are dropping and will not pay for the anymore shipments and they drop you. Most of the wineries are professional and hope to woo you back at some point so they don't try to screw you because it's bad for business.
Nov 11, 2011 at 3:31pm
My wife and I belong to one wine club. It is basically a newsletter mailing list except that they send us an invoice for the same order we had the year before. If you want to buy the wine you have to call them and confirm it with 50% down at the beginning of the year. If you don't want the wine you do absolutely nothing, regardless you get the same invoice each year. You can change your order to whatever you want.
Absolutely no commitment or hassle whatsoever. The wine is better than average and their Petite Syrah is one of my favorites.
This is a model wineries should copy.
Nov 11, 2011 at 3:53pm
Hi, Mark. Sometimes joining a winery's proprietary wine club is beneficial because they send you selections not available to other consumers. Sometimes these are limited editions and other times it's just to give the members of the club some extra love. It's a great way to try wines that you might otherwise never have a chance to taste.
Nov 11, 2011 at 4:28pm
I belong to one winery club. This is a mid-range Napa winery. Twice a year I receive a shipment of four bottles (four reds in the autumn, two reds and two whites in the spring), and the tarriff is usually about $150 per shipment. This represents a 20% discount on the winery price. When I go to the winery, I am also eligible for the 20% discount. The eight bottles that I receive may or may not be available in local retail outlets--e.g., I have seen Cabernet Sauvignons, but I've never seen Cabernet Francs in local stores. So, it is nice to get some things that I might have a hard time finding. On the minus side, they insist on sending me their Carneros Merlot. They make a Spring Mountain Merlot that I love, but the Carneros example is not nearly as good.
Every quarter I receive a little newsletter with info from the winery--how the growing season is progressing, reviews of current releases, etc.--and, of course, the letter includes a list of wines that I can order ala carte. There are also invitations to events at the winery, but, since I live 350 miles away, I look at those as informative rather than highlights for my social planning.
One club that I have considered joining is affiliated with the Connoiseur's Guide to California Wines. Once a month they send 2 or 3 wines that are rated ** or *** (the two highest tiers in their rating system). So, the wines that they send are consistently of high quality. I have never joined, however, because I really don't want to have to meet the UPS guy every month to sign, and, obviously, the price of these wines is a tad higher than I normally spend--I don't think there is a discount.
Now, here is my rant. I am getting very tired of going into winery tasting rooms, paying $10 or $15 or $20 up front to taste some wines, and then, getting my arm twisted to join their club. It seems that almost every winery does this.
Nov 16, 2011 at 2:05pm
I LOVE my wine clubs. I live in Florida, but my favorite wines are from the Pacific Northwest, and most of them cannot be obtained in Florida any way other than directly from the winery. By belonging to the clubs, I get to taste their recent suggestions with a very small commitment, and then if I want to order something I always end up with a significant discount over the per-bottle price. Of course, I generally have to pay for shipping, but that would likely be included in the price if I could buy it locally anyway, and this way I get the quantity I want of the wines that I want.
I really love Oregon Pinot Noirs. I belong to the club of two wineries that don't otherwise send their Pinots to Florida grocery stores (one doesn't send anything to Florida), and I belong to a more general club (Vinesse), which sends a variety of choices, including various offerings of Oregon Pinot Noir, and I recently joined an Oregon Pinot Noir club. The Vinesse club sends me a mix of reds, and I donate the ones I'm not interested in to church events; that club also has a special club for Pinot Noirs (not all Oregon, but all good) and another for wines of the Pacific Northwest), and I also subscribe to both of those and they are mostly wonderful.
I recently discovered that Idaho has some fabulous wines, and most of them have some connection with Greg Koenig, who has his own winery (Koenig) but who also works with several of the other wineries in the area (Williamson, Bitner, Hells Canyon, and probably a couple of others). He seems to have made it his mission to turn the Snake River Valley into a quality producer of wine. While they aren't right for everybody yet, I really like their Syrahs, and fine their wines generally to be of very high quality as long as you stick to the good ones. I belong to the Koenig Club and the Williamson Club, and also that of the Indian Hills Winery, which is also very nice. After I've tasted a vintage, I typically buy a couple of cases (usually their regular and reserve Syrahs) from each. That way I get what I want, at reasonable prices, and don't have to worry about what I'll find in the local grocery store from time to time.
The Lot 18 offerings are also really nice because I can pick something that sounds interesting and try it out with a small commitment. The drawback to Lot 18 and Vinesse is that if I really like it, they may well be out of it by the time I try it and want more, but they have plenty of other offerings for me to try. I did recently contact the Oregon winery that produced one I particularly liked that I had gotten from one of these clubs, and got them to send me two cases of their Pinot Noir that I particularly liked.
As to the UPS deliveries, there are some difficulties with that -- one time I was out of town for four days and they had tried each day to deliver 4 boxes, and to avoid having to go to the UPS offices myself UPS made me pay $6.95 per box for them to re-deliver them to my house on a particular day. I was ready to complain to the providers, but the UPS started to send me advance e-mails for many of my shipments (I think the shipper arranges whether that will happen or not), and the UPS guy knows there are only adults living here, and most of the time one of us is home to sign for the shipments. (When I often get my wine in 4-bottle increments, that involves a number of shipments.)
In summary, I love my wine clubs, and can't imagine being limited to what shows up in the stores.
Nov 24, 2011 at 5:32pm