Oh, the joy of seeking out a good bottle of wine.
Orange Coast Winery wine club has a new twist on the wine club concept and we tested it for the first time on a recent Friday night.
Most wineries won’t empower you to choose wine for your shipment. Instead, they’ll ship a collection of wines they choose from their warehouse. This means you sometime receive mediocre wine, sometimes you receive great wine. But there are times you receive whatever they had in the back and haven’t been able to sell. They’ll clear out inventory and have a sale, and you’re paying ‘club price’ for wine they cannot move.
So it’s interesting to note two wineries in Orange County have moved to a flat fee wine club. Pay your quarterly fee, wander on down to the tasting room and sample their wines. Then, imagine you’re King Harrod and command the staff to bring your choices, enjoying the fruits of your power. You walk out the door with wine you really enjoy, not the vino Harrod would deem suitable for servants.
As to the money, if your quarterly fee is $107, you choose $107 worth of wine from their available wine list. If your choice exceeds your club fee, simply pay the overage. You are required to purchase 6 bottles when you pick up your selections. (Editor’s note: As of November 2013 the entry price of their wine club is $98 to pick up wine, this credit must be used in one visit, no credit balances & you are not required to purchase 6 bottles quarterly….at $98 you’ll probably pick up three)
It’s a little risky for the club because they cannot liquidate unpopular wine vintages that don’t sell. But it does give them direct feedback on consumer preferences and offers them cash flow. It has obvious challenges with out of area subscribers, but I’m sure the winery can handle this and make selections for out-of-towners. The other club using this model is Laguna Canyon Winery.
But for a winery in the middle of a metropolis, what better way to indulge your customers and keep them coming in through the front door. Empowering your customer with choices is the best way to develop consumer loyalty. We think it’s a great way of finding a good bottle of wine and look forward to visiting the Costa Mesa facility more often (and their Corona Del Mar facility when they open it.)
So what did we taste? Here goes (retail pricing/club price 20% discount.)
Zinfandel Central Coast $25 ✰
Zinfandel Temecula $29 /$23.20 ✰+
Endless Summer Red Blend $25 ✰+
Petite Sirah Lodi $33 ✰
Syrah Lodi $36/$28.80 ✰+
Reserve Lodi Syrah $39/$31.20 ✰++
Reserve Lodi Zinfandel $39/$31.20 ✰+
Reserve Lodi Primitivo $45/$36 ✰++
We selected four bottles of wine, one Syrah, two Reserve Syrah and one Reserve Primitivo (all Lodi grape) and left with a $7 credit for the next cycle. We did enjoy much of their wine, and gave one Temecula wine good marks. Our only regret was their inventory of Sangiovese was down to the last four bottles. If you wanted to buy one you could, but you couldn’t taste it.
Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.
(Editor’s note, October 28, 2013: One important thing to note about their wine club is your membership requires you purchase 6 bottles quarterly, so you’re committing to purchase two cases per year. We’ve been through a lot of wineries and cannot name one that requires a purchase of two cases. Tobin James comes closest when they ship 8 bottles of wine, twice yearly.)