Wine clubs are of all shapes and sizes and types. I’m not sure the length of time that wine clubs have existed, but in the last 30 years, I’ve been a member of a fair amount of them. The entire idea of”wine club “wine club” seems to seem like an odd oxymoron. In the traditional sense, I think that a club is something with an element of social interaction along with being educational, economic or, at a minimum, an added value proposition. If someone is a member of a golf club, car club or a quilting or car club there are reasons for joining such as the social aspect, the advancement of skills as well as financial benefits. In interacting with other people who share similar interests. Wine clubs, however, appear to be a purely economical benefit; they can easily purchase wines at are being offered by the owners of the clubs wine guides.
When a person joins an organization, like the NRA or another similar one organization, it is in order to influence the public or gain discounts. However, the clubs appear to strike a different nerve within membership.
The decision to join a wine club will likely be driven by a combination of the following motives:
Recommendation from a friend.
You want to explore wines that aren’t normally found in the local wine shop.
Convenience, as long as someone who is over 21 can sign the form for shipment.
You enjoy surprises and the wine you choose to offer in the month or quarter are irrelevant.
Technical and review details included with the wine can be helpful in these areas, such as food pairings.
There is a financial benefit to the wines that are received when shipping costs are included.
Recently, I embarked on a project together with a friend to list wine clubs across the U.S. and offer a brief description of each. The aim was to concisely describe their specific markets, their financial commitments , and other offerings. It wasn’t long before we discovered that the market for wine clubs is extremely competitive, diverse as well as targeted. It composed of a variety of ownership and commercial arrangements. In essence, wines clubs operate as a mail-order business. However, as I’ll discuss in the future, there are brick and mortar businesses that have their own wine clubs – K&L, BevMO, Total Wines and the majority of wineries. No, I haven’t lost sight of The Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator, and Wine Enthusiast which are all publishers.
The model of business for wine clubs is easy to identify: buyers aggregate purchase in bulk and find sellers who are motivated, identify the wines at the price they are selling and then advertise. There are clubs for every level and different types of interest. My wife, for instance, recently received her quarterly mailer from a premium club. They advertise premium wines by sending the quarterly mailers they send out. Their selection of wines is around $150 per bottle. My issue lies in the fact that she loves white wines, and even those must be within an extremely limited range of wines. Therefore, a high-end wine club isn’t suitable for her.
Here are some aspects to think about when selecting an appropriate wine club:
Financial commitment: How often will you receive wines? What is the range of prices of the wines you’ll receive? Some clubs follow an annual schedule of shipment, while some ship quarterly. Your credit card will be charged on the correct schedule for shipping in a timely manner.
The wine selections are also varieties provided by various clubs. Some are specialized in offering wines from specific countries.
Flexible- Check out the return policy in case you are not satisfied with the wine that was sent to you.
The quality of the wines provided to you. Learn about the kinds of wines that a club provides. Are these wines ones you’ve been looking for and want to taste? Are these wines available by the winery that makes them or in retail wine shops? If so, at what cost. Perhaps price isn’t an issue. The wine is what you end up with. The main goal of wine clubs is to provide wine, for an affordable cost, as well as ease of access to the wine.
Motivation: Now ask yourself if either are an avid collector, or consumer. There are wine clubs that are offered by wineries. They are the only method to buy their finest wines at the time of their first release. Aftermarket sales are the only way to buy the most desirable wines. Certain wineries that are premium have fees to join their club, which is often very large and, in most cases, they maintain a waitlist for those who want to be a member.
Another option to acquire wine in a form that resembles a club is to use private wine broker. The business model of a personal wine broker model allows brokers to contact people and provide their services. Based on your preferences in regards to the styles of wine you like and your goals (do you consume or collect) when it comes to the wines you purchase, your individual broker will call or email you with information on wines that they have discovered that meet your requirements. Additionally, they could provide you with wines they discover and purchase in large amounts.