Winery clubs (such as Mazocco or Coppola) are a brilliant marketing invention. They are a way to seize the buzzed moment in their tasting room to forge a deeper relationship with the customer, and sell a lot more wine at a much higher profit margin than they can through their distributors.
To this, I say: “Great for the wineries, but what’s in it for me?” When I do the math, and consider my usual consumption patterns, the answer is usually: not so much.
Here’s my story: In 2002, I signed up for 4 clubs (=12 ish bottles per month) on a single trip to the Central Coast. My thinking was simple: we know we love these wines, so why not put the orders on autopilot and let them come to us?
Months #1 and 2 were awesome. We drank half, and happily put away the rest for later. But by month 6, I was starting to dread the next shipment, because we started drinking less of these 4 wineries, so they became increasingly dominant in our cellar. At that point, I realized two things: 1) we rarely drink a case of any producer’s wine in a given year, and 2) the cost of convenience (higher-priced wine, plus shipping) is about 20-35% higher than I would pay if I was buying that bottle at will from my favorite local retailers.
My winery club ‘dealbreaker’ came one September afternoon about 7 years ago when we received 6 bottles from a famous Central Coast winery, 4 of which which were obviously cooked (wine oozing out the cork due to overheating). The winery protested, and told me they (nor UPS) were not liable for the condition of the wine that arrived to my doorstep. Huh?
So that was it. Within 7 months, I fell completely off the winery club wagon and never got back on. I have not since heard of one winery club that was worth signing up for...but I realize that I may be a different kind of consumer...I do really well just rooting around SF shops in my spare time, and lean on about 6 great wine professionals to be my 'club' managers.
Having said my peace about winery clubs, I am curious: is your experience about the same, or have you found some wineries out there that are doing clubs right? (Right = you get tremendous value out of the membership, worth the extra overall cost)?
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