Wine Talk

Snooth User: spikedc

Who needs Wine Clubs ?

Posted by spikedc, Mar 6, 2012.

Another reason not to join..........................

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandst...joining?CMP=twt_gu

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Replies

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

Hmm I really wonder if what they say there is entirely true. It might be for the UK site but I always check the retail prices on Lot18 and they seem fair to me. Sometimes alot cheaper. I wonder if Lot18 has a UK warehouse... importing is not exactly the cheapest thing.. I might be wrong in that they found cheaper wines somewhere else.. although they seem to be wines not from California.

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Reply by outthere, Mar 6, 2012.

Lot 18 is not a wine club. It's more of an online retailer.  Wine clubs send you wine on a regular basis when you are signed up whether you really want them or not. Usually they are no name wines and second labels that distributors are attempting to blow out their inventory of. at least that has been my experience. With online retailers you have an inventory to browse and pick from.

Then there are flash sites like Winewoot, LastBottleWines or WTSO that offer a single wine until its gone and then move on to another. You either like the offer and bite or you pass on it and see what comes up next.

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

I agree with you outhere. Alot of wine stores offer wine club (at least in San Diego) and you do not know about the bottles you are getting. They just give you price ranges to pick from and most would assume the wines they get are reasonable.. it make sense that they would try to get rid of some bottles (that wont sell) that way.

Thanks for introducing those sites! I did not know about them until now!

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 6, 2012.

Definitely Outthere, the best "wine clubs" to join are those from very good wineries who usually sell out their releases in short order, thus the benefit of being in their club.

Just got my shipment from Booker (Paso Robles) today, 1 x 6 different bottlings that all sound pretty damn awesome.

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

Is Booker the one that Saxum get grapes from too? They lease some land at Booker for syrahs?

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2012.

Thanks for catching and posting, Spike. Obviously Lot18 is very pertinent to the Snooth world.

It looks like the Guardian journalist was particularly sloppy in positioning Lot18 as a 'wine club'. It's not, but rather a flash sales site like the others that outthere mentions, though with more than one bottle at a time. Maybe it's something between a flash site and a true online merchant, but still closer to the flash side. It's not at all like the who-knows-wtf-I'll-be-getting-and-it'll-likely-be-crap-anyway-with-unclear-pricing experience from traditional wineclubs that started even before the days of the internet. The 'wine clubs' at individual vineyards are yet a different model, and getting on their list is often the only easy way to acquire rare bottles for popular (esp. cult) wineries.

One good thing the author of that article did do was point to all the other, cheaper options online in the UK. It looks like the Lot18 folks need to do a little better market research before setting their pricing. It also looks like whoever's in PR at Lot18 needs to do a better job of educating the media, whether oldskool newspapers or winebloggers or whoever else, about what they're trying to do. For whatever reason, they seem to have PO'd that Guardian journalist/blogger to the point she wanted to go that level of detail in painting a negative picture of Lot18's operation. Not the kind of intro you want when you're entering a new market....

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2012.

Just went and read most of the thread underneath that poorly positioned blog by Fiona Beckett on the Guardian site (had just read the article itself when I posted the above). It seems she hit a nerve, even with her inaccurate description of Lot 18. The thread underneath was a fairly lively, lengthy one with everyone talking about other wineclubs and flash sites than Lot 18. It does provide an interesting look into the retail wine market in the UK. Didn't realize that Berry Bros & Rudd brick-and-mortar storefronts, for example, close at 5:30pm. Doesn't provide much help to working stiffs, does it?

Hope the Lot 18 planning wonks are reading and taking notes....

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 6, 2012.

As I've said elsewhere, I generally avoid wine clubs for the reasons cited by outthere, but do have one winery club membership because the wine that I like best from this producer--the best Zin I've ever had besides Talty--is now unavailable any other way.  And I am on lists for Roar and Pisoni (right now on the waitlist at Pisoni and on the list for the second label Lucia) for allocations without any obligation.  But Lot18, at least in the US, is not what I'd call a club, any more than Invino or WineAccess (what happened to them?) or LastBottle.  You just have to agree to get e-mail.

I'm finding that a lot of flash sites are not really a bargain.  Lot18 is sometimes kind of a bargain--did I hedge that enough?  My nephew, who just moved to Chicago from SF, uses it and some others because he hasn't really found his way through the wine store scene there, and I suspect will always find it a little lacking.  I haven't bought from Lot18 yet because I'm not finding anything really compelling and I'm unclear on the shipping prices--and to me, shipping is the biggest problem, both expense and conditions, in ordering wine.  I've seen Provenance ToKalon Cab offered at a few, LastBottle and Lot18, as well as BP (last bottle was started by one of the partners in BPWine as a flash alternative to their part flash/part cellar/part wine shop model) for a price viturally identical to WineClub in SF, which is not a wine club at all but a store. And a lot of the WTSO offers get repeated again and again, until they do cheapskate Wednesday and claim they are closing out wines... wait, isn't the name WineTilSoldOut?  I suspect a bit of puffery.

I agree with outthere that Lot18 is somewhat of a wine shop/flash site hybrid, although I am told that they never take possession of inventory and wine ships from the wineries.  The offers do stay open for a longer time than invino's typically do, and certainly longer than WTSO.  I also understand they got a ton of venture capital money (this from my nephew in Chicago, who is in finance).  Of course, Phillip, one of the founders of Snooth, is also a founder of Lot18 and could explain it all.  To their credit, they have refrained from turning Snooth into an advertising arm.  In fact, you have to sign up separately and there's no apparent overlap in passwords or anything else. 

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 6, 2012.

I'll say one thing about Lot18, people know about them, and their message is getting out there, though i'm sure as you point out D, it could be improved much further.

Shsim: There are a few wineries that are or have been affiliated with Saxum, and more specifically Saxum's proprietor/winemaker Justin Smith. Booker is the only one where land is involved, except that the famed James Berry Vineyard, which was pioneered by the Saxum family (from what I understand), in a friendly way sells some grapes to Villa Creek's Chris Cherry. These three wineries are pretty big cultish lynchpin's in the West Paso (Saxum, Booker, Villa Creek). Obviously, Saxum dwarfs the other two in name recognition, and price, so it's useful to know. Bigger houses with higher production scales, but also very good wines are L'Aventure and Tablas Creek.

Noes from Justin Smith on the 2005 Booker Vineyard Release:

This is a new planting, and like the Heart Stone Vineyard, I have been working with the owners from the beginning. It's a beautiful site located next to L'Aventure Winery, with very steep calcareous and siliceous soils. Meticulously farmed by Eric and Lisa Jensen, this is a vineyard that has vaulted to the top tier of California plantings. The majority of my blocks are on an eastfacing slope, giving them gentle abundant sunshine. The wine can be described as opulent, full-bodied and luscious, yet it still has great definition, with a nose of cassis, raspberries, and toast, and a finish that just doesn't stop, we shall see how it ages, but given the great balance I think it will be 12-15 years no problem.

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

Yea I am on their mailing list but can never get a hold of their wines.. Thanks for the recommendations! Im heading up end of this month although I might not go that far North.

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

Back to wine clubs (because of the divergence in topics..), its not a bad idea if you know what you are getting into in terms of quality and value of wine. Most wineries operate with wine clubs and some exclusively so. So sometimes you have to join it to get their wines (Saxum and many others..).

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2012.

Again, we need to provide some definition for the term 'wine club'. We've identified at least three entirely-different models here. Flash sale-sites and online merchants are not, at all, 'wine clubs' in my dictionary. Winery 'wine clubs' are merely their retail marketing arm. 'Wine clubs' to me are like the NYTimes or WSJournal type of operation, though there are many older, and better-established than those. Would like to see, however, how many there are now compared to 10 years ago, and which have survived and which gone extinct....

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 6, 2012.

True, the classical form of wine clubs as you describe will continue to dwindle, (especially of the mail order variety) as time goes by. Still, the baby boomer population which tends to be somewhat averse to the web and new info keep whoever's left, going.

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Reply by outthere, Mar 6, 2012.

There are wine clubs attahed to wineries where you get auto shipped every quarter as opposed to being on the mailing list and having the ability to order or not. Mailing lists are voluntary but on many if you do not purchse for 3 consecutive releases they drop you from the list.

Other "clubs" just don't provide what I am lookng for. I may be a bit spoiled, because I have the ability to taste a lot of these wines prior to purchase and have easy access to the wineries, but I hate wasting money on a wne I don't like. So I stick to what I know and pick up other interests through attending offlines.

I'm a member of only 1 club. Club Copain gives me discounts for being in the club and gives me the opportunity to purchase SVD's at discounted prices. Otherwise I'm active on probably 10 or more (oops 18) mailing lists that I purchase from regularly.

Hey, I'm a boomer. Watch it pal.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 6, 2012.

I'm a boomer and both my parents, who unfortunately are no longer around, were active on the web before there was ever a 2.0. Generalizations are a bitch!  ;-)

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Reply by shsim, Mar 6, 2012.

So true dmcker! I enjoy it when people speak up against the so called 'norms'.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 7, 2012.

Absolutely Outthere, could've worded that better couldn't I have? No offense meant as one who respects their elders.

My folks are probably on the older side of the boomers, they're great but never did make the leap.

 

 

 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2012.

Yeah, just don't call me 'sir' or 'mr__' ...   ;-)

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 7, 2012.

Quite right...

& why am I not surprised about your folks D

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 7, 2012.

My dad was oldskool big iron, programming Sperry Univacs and their successors for the Navy (Pt. Mugu and Vandenberg and SWAsia) and NASA when it took an Indiana Jones-sized warehouse to hold the tape storage and punch card readers, etc., for less computing power (and storage) than what's on my lap right now. I had no interest in 'cybernetics' after visits as a schoolkid to those locations when he was working there, so of course ended up using computers bigtime for my work in the '80s and '90s. It was a point of pride for him to help me with websearches even back in the early-mid '90s, shortly after the web was born. He unfortunately didn't make it to the end of the '90s so never saw Web 2.0 but would've been all over it. Mom was a few steps behind but still used the web during the same period teaching at UCSB extension, retired from a career in local government across CA from Ventura to Sonoma to Monterey counties, and did use Web 2.0 plenty in the next decade to plan trips to all sorts of places in Europe and Asia and Latin America after her complete retirement. That kind of technology wasn't too scary for either of them, though I always got roped into fixing broken washingmachines, dishwashers and garbage disposals (and various computer ailments) when visiting her. And I doubt my dad would get the same joy working on cars now that he did back when.

It's never over till it's over, though, Jon. So why not gift yours with a Mac laptop, iPad and an iPhone over the next few opportunities? Very user friendly. And eye-opening...   ;-)

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