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Wine Club Pros & Cons: Do I Really Want You To Ship All That Wine To Me? Part 2

You love the California wine you just tasted and your host is dangling this offer, ‘We’ll waive today’s tasting fee if you join our club, today.’ A friend of ours was recently visiting Daou Winery in Paso Robles ($50 tasting x 2 = $100) and figured, ‘I like the wine, why not join and ‘save’ that $100, applying it to more wine. We get the logic. It’s good marketing.

Not all wine clubs are created equal. Make sure their program matches your needs. Here are our requirements for joining a wine club.

CBW’s Guidelines for Joining a Club

Two shipments yearly, spring and fall when weather is cool.

✰ Must have the ability to specify reds only, mixed or white wines only.

✰ Should have the ability to customize shipment wines (this is tough to accomodate.)

✰ Should have complimentary pick up parties.

✰ Should have other complimentary activities during the year.

✰ Must have at least four to six complimentary tastings per visit (because if we’re going to prothlesize for your wine, make it easy for us to bring guests.)

✰ Offer discounts on non-wine products, dinners & parties.

Honest discounted sales (ie: Black Friday, etc). If you’re receiving 10-20% discount as a club member don’t offer an extra 10% ‘sale’. Give us 50-60% off on special dates. Incentivize us with discounts.

If they’re shipping, specify FedEx or UPS. GLS uses vendors for delivery and frequently your wine is bouncing around the back of somebody’s hot mini van.

✰ If you’re going to join, dive in big time for shipments equaling a yearly case. Shipments of two bottles are costly & ineffecient for the wine maker. You’re paying for the cost of this ineffenciency. Besides that, you need more wine. Proof of this comes in a friend’s recent email, “I started drinking quality wine in earnest when I was about 30. So I figure I missed out on fine wine for the first 30 years of my life. And if I assume I have 30 years to go, I have some work to do to even out my life wine consumption. 30 years. That’s 1,560 weeks, or 10,920 days. If my wife and I drink a bottle of wine every other day, I have 5,460 bottles of wine to look forward to, and that should even things out.” So, you need more wine. Beside, if you’re signing up for a case per year you have more leverage enticing them to meet your requirements.

A Few Other Tips on Wine Clubs

Don’t be afraid of ‘quitting’ a club if they ship you poor tasting wine. Most wineries don’t want to lose you as a customer. Call and share your concern and that you’re considering quitting. Let them fix the situation. If they’re snotty and don’t want to help, you know all you need about their poor customer service. Quit.

If your wine arrives and the corks show bottle overheating (staining up the length of the cork) call and share your complaint. You pay a lot for this shipment and expect to receive beautiful wine that has not been compromised. The goal is to receive replacement bottles. Over heated bottles are not your fault. If the winery balks, quit and explore another wine club.

Embrace flavor change. Try different wineries’ clubs. We have a policy: If we add a club we must delete one of our existing clubs. It keeps us critical of our wines and rotates the cellar collection.

If a club ships quarterly, tell them you live in a warm climate and you don’t want wine overheated in shipping. Ask for twice yearly shipments in Spring & Winter.

If you live nearby, pick up your shipments. This guarantees fresh delivery. One local Paso winery will only ship (no pick-ups) because they haven’t the room to accommodate customer pick-ups. We quit their program. You may need to increase your total bottle order to a case (12 bottles yearly) but it sure beats receiving too many shipments arriving in the heat.

Some wineries ask that you purchase one year’s worth of shipments as part of their agreement. If you find you do not like their shipped wine, feel free to call up and quit. Tell them the ‘product was not as advertised.’ If they refuse, tell them you’ll ask your credit card company to ‘charge-back’ any shipment billing if they insist on shipping and charging you. Use the same phrase ‘product was not as advertised’ with your credit card bank.

A critical eye on the details of joining a wine club will enhance your enjoyment of great California Bottles of Wine………..Cheers!

Some notes on our wine ranking system.

Bill & Erin Hodge write about California Wine, the estates & winemakers producing them and educational information about Vino. Living in California Wine Country provides a front row seat to the places you want to visit the most here in the Golden State.

– -✰  means -What’s next on your list of wines
-✰  means -Not liking it too much
✰ means  -We’ll drink this wine, especially if it’s hosted!
✰+ means -You’ve got our attention and we might buy this wine.
✰+ + means -We’re hooked and we’re going to buy this wine.
When you see -✰/✰+  with a slash, it means we disagree.

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