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Wine Clubs
Old 10-17-2020, 08:23 PM   #1
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Wine Clubs

Does*anyone belong to a wine club or do you just go to a wine store (BevMo / Total Wine /*Buon Vino Inc / Cost Plus World Market) and fill a case?*

If so: benefits & drawbacks?
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:26 PM   #2
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No wine club for us. We just buy bottles one at a time from the local grocery store. I haven't seen any significant price difference compared to places like BevMo which are farther away and not very convenient.

Occasionally we will buy a bottle or two directly from a winery when we visit, but that's probably once or twice a year at most.
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Old 10-18-2020, 03:14 AM   #3
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Trader Joe's or neighborhood liquor store. Not legal for grocery stores in our state.
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Old 10-18-2020, 03:53 AM   #4
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We belonged to a mailorder club for a while. It seemed so convenient, compared with a 30-mile drive to Total Wine.

After about six months, a few things drove us to cancel.

First, an adult must be present when the wine is delivered; otherwise, UPS will take it away, and they may or may not re-deliver. It was nervewracking to have to wait inside all day long and into the evening for the UPS guy, who did not even ring the doorbell. (If we went outside, we wouldn't see the truck). The options for "deliver to your workplace instead" or "deliver to a neighbor instead" did not work for us.

Second, their email marketing is relentless. It got tiresome after a while.
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Old 10-18-2020, 04:24 AM   #5
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I belonged to the California wine club for a while. It was a great education because they didnít sell any bad wines, and some were spectacular. They also have really good sales two or three times a year. The big advantage of a wine club is that you are getting wines from smaller producers that have been vetted by an expert taster. I found prices at our local wine shop to be a little better during sales, but the employees were less knowledgeable and so their recommendations were hit or miss.
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Old 10-18-2020, 05:27 AM   #6
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Not a wine club per se but we travel often in our motorhome and belong to Harvest Hosts. This allows us to park overnight at many different wineries, breweries, etc. We enjoy tasting these wines and usually buy a bottle up to a case when we find some that we enjoy. The last one in Texas after our tasting and buying a few bottles the owners left and we enjoyed the afternoon to ourselves on their grounds.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:13 AM   #7
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I also tried the California Wine Club, and I agree it was pretty good...it's just that we don't drink enough wine to justify the regular shipments! Our local Finewine.com storefront offers special variety cases now and then, like "90+ cases" or "Value cases". We got one each of those; both were very good, and came with a list describing each wine. Years later, and we're still working on those cases, though!
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:15 AM   #8
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Used to belong to a wine making club with the ex. It was a really good experience with learning about wine making, meeting new people, not to mention smoking Cuban cigars.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:19 AM   #9
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We belonged to a wine club for a year, and dropped them. It was advertised as up and coming vineyards so it was almost entirely vineyards we’d never heard of, no surprise. There were some pleasant surprises, but over half were just meh (value) choices. I’d rather pick for us - to choose exactly which varietals we have on hand if nothing else. We used to keep a wide variety of wines (as many as 25) now we buy a case or two when we find something we like at a good price and we usually have about 10 choices on hand.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:29 AM   #10
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We have been getting wine from Nakedwines for the past seven or eight months and have been quite happy with it. The wine is tasty and the prices are good. We pick our own bottles and order when we want to, which is usually once per month. Sadly, under our state law, we can only get one case per month. Since we have a bottle of wine with dinner almost every night, that means I also have to go in person to the local Total Wines, which I do on my bi-weekly grocery shopping days.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:34 AM   #11
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We have been getting wine from Nakedwines for the past seven or eight months and have been quite happy with it.
Perfect timing! I've been considering them as they have a great starter discount
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Old 10-18-2020, 08:19 AM   #12
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I tried a wine club and was able to try some interesting wines. It did help me to narrow down my tastes.

Since them, I go to Total Wine every few months. They label wines that the employees recommend. I found two employees that have similar test to mine, so I look for their suggestions and get 5 or 6 bottles at a time.

One of the wines bas become my favorite daily wine so I buy it by the case now.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:15 AM   #13
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There is an old rule: Quality, Price, Service; pick any two.

I have tried a couple of cases of "club" wine. "Service" is baked into the concept, so you really can only choose between price and quality. My experience is that price drives the club. Can it really be any other way given the high cost of handling, shipping, refused shipments, etc?

Much of the wine I got was almost certainly bulk wine labeled with made-up winery name and brands. The giveaway was the absence of UPC codes -- these wines were never intended to be sold at retail or to restaurants. They were just cheap swill as ordered to suit the "club" cost target.

For buying wine, I have the best of all possible worlds -- a small one-man specialist shop. When I go there I am greeted by name and Dave knows my taste and price range. He runs around the shop picking from his current and carefully curated inventory, checking with me on his ideas ("Have you tried this one?") and filling a case or two for me. It is really always thus, even for new customers, because there is no order to the wines on the pallets and shelves and none are marked with prices. Dave has it all in his head. Pre-covid DW sometimes had social functions connected with her nonprofit BoD hobby. She would confer with Dave on ideas for wines and quantities, then we'd take what Dave recommended with return privileges on what she didn't use.

I find Total Wine to be disgusting. Complete lack of curation except to push their own labels where "exclusive" or "recommended" means "high margin." None of their salespeople can possibly know much of value. After all, they couldn't have tasted more than maybe a few hundredths % of the inventory so how could they help? And with thousands of labels you know there is plenty of garbage mixed onto the shelves.

My suggestion is for people to forget the wine clubs and swear to never cross the threshold at Total Wines. Instead, try to find a small shop that emphasizes wines and a trusted salesperson. You'll never find another Dave, I'm afraid, but with a little effort and some repeat visits you should find yourself able to get wines you like at your price point with no hustle to "exclusive" labels.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:33 AM   #14
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I have a local wine store near me that is very nice and I joined it's wine club years ago as a way of helping out local businesses. I get two bottles a month, one tasting session for me and a guest, and a few discounts here and there. Increasing competition resulted in their having live music a few times a month. Children were welcome though not at the wine bar itself. Until Covid they were one of the nicest places to hang out at, sort of a 'Cheers' type of experience without the hard liquor.

Due to Covid, they decided to feature only home state wines in their wine club selections so as to help the local produces. I miss some of the foreign selections, but I understand. I hope they survive.

Buying wine from a local store is much more fun and interesting than getting a box delivered every few months. Especially, when you an take one bottle, have it opened, and sit at the wine store patio enjoying your purchase and chatting with the other customers.
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Old 10-18-2020, 12:03 PM   #15
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We had the WSJ wine club for a while, but cancelled it. The "drawback" was that we started drinking a lot more wine than we had previously.
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Old 10-18-2020, 12:52 PM   #16
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I belong to specific producers that I like. I have a wine cellar so it’s a way for me to stock up on wines I like at a discount. Since we are fans of bold reds, we can cellar them and appreciate them as they age and mature. I also the get some of the small batch club exclusive wines that show the winemakers potential. I’ll, join for a year or two and then shift to another wine producers. Cakebread cellars, Justin, St Supery are three examples of CA brands I joined/belong to today.
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:33 PM   #17
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Like Dgalmore30, we have a cellar (1200 bottle capacity) and a lot of our nontravel spending is allocated to wine, so take my thoughts with appropriate salt....

We've been unimpressed with the wine clubs we've joined (Napa Cabs and Willamette Pinots...). Granted, you get access to prestige labels that are otherwise unavailable, but we found the price/value to be unattractive. As for the typical nonproducer clubs, such as WSJ's, we've avoided them as the wines they tout didn't appeal to us.

As a result, we buy by the case online or at wineries when we visit them--with the occasional purchase at a liquor store or grocery for "drink now" whites. For shipping, the option of having drop off at a walgreens or UPS makes it quite convenient.
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Old 10-18-2020, 02:18 PM   #18
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If I lived in Washington or Oregon I would definitely consider the clubs/memberships offered by a few of my favorite wineries. But we’re just too far to ship and the weather is bad for wine transport most of the year.

Fortunately the Costco wine selection is excellent and we are not deprived at all. I do occasionally use wine.com .
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Old 10-18-2020, 03:48 PM   #19
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If I lived in Washington or Oregon I would definitely consider the clubs/memberships offered by a few of my favorite wineries. But weíre just too far to ship and the weather is bad for wine transport most of the year.

Fortunately the Costco wine selection is excellent and we are not deprived at all. I do occasionally use wine.com .


Clubs donít work so well in Minnesota, either, also for the weather reason: Bottles on the front porch tend to freeze! Iíve bought some cases from wine.com and Naked Wines, in which case they are delivered to my local Fedex/Kinkos for me to go pick up.
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Wine Clubs
Old 10-18-2020, 03:55 PM   #20
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Wine Clubs

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I find Total Wine to be disgusting. Complete lack of curation except to push their own labels where "exclusive" or "recommended" means "high margin." None of their salespeople can possibly know much of value. After all, they couldn't have tasted more than maybe a few hundredths % of the inventory so how could they help? And with thousands of labels you know there is plenty of garbage mixed onto the shelves.

My suggestion is for people to forget the wine clubs and swear to never cross the threshold at Total Wines. Instead, try to find a small shop that emphasizes wines and a trusted salesperson. You'll never find another Dave, I'm afraid, but with a little effort and some repeat visits you should find yourself able to get wines you like at your price point with no hustle to "exclusive" labels.

Amen! As you say, itís common knowledge that Total Wine advertises decent wines as a lure to get you into the store, where their salespeople are trained to convince you to swap the decent bottle in your basket for one of their much higher markup exclusives. No thank you.
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