Vol. 4 No. 2 when should you join a wine club?

***Update: this article based on Silicon Valley  Bank’s observations, they the big lender to the wine industry, drives home what this article is all about. High priced wines are not selling…could mean a big shakeout. https://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2018/01/us-wine-growth-slows-as-clouds-gather

Over the years I have joined (and eventually left) several wine clubs. I didn’t leave them due to dissatisfaction, on the contrary I had way too much wine piling up that I wasn’t drinking fast enough. From what I hear from others it is a common problem, and an expensive one.

At the big wineries you sign up for two to four shipments a year, sometimes with only a choice of white or red. You may not like some of them or even see them much cheaper at a discount store or as in the previous post, an online purveyor.

So here is my advice: first, skip the big wineries because you can find most of their wines in shops. Second, even with some of the smaller wineries, they may not be able to sell all off mailing lists, especially the larger their production is. This can lead to discounting.

Of course, if you just ‘gotta have’ a wine and it is hard to find, then go for it. Then there are the ’boutique’ cult wineries that don’t command the three digit prices, but for them it is a two-way street: a loyal following, availability for the buyer, and much better prices for the seller which can make the difference between making a profit or taking a loss.

As shown in my last post, and I didn’t even use the example of a $100+ wine selling for $29, but the more common one. Just did a search of my trash emails and found what I was looking for:

 

Notre Vin Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
94 rating and 67% off!

Free Shipping on 2 or more


Comparable Price*: $150.00
Yesterday’s Best Web Price (With Shipping): $N/A
Our Price:

$49.99

Buy Now

wine bottle Description
Appellation Howell Mountain
Unit Size 750 ml
Varietal/Grapes Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage 2012
Country United States
Region Napa Valley
Alcohol Content 13.80
67% OFF!

This is a perfect example: Howell Mountain is not only the first AVA subdivision in Napa Valley, but has volcanic soil, which is rich and imparts incredible flavors and body. Among the famous producers are Dunn, CADE, Black Sears, Duckhorn, Outpost (formerly part of Lamborn, which is still active and going strong. Members of the Howell Mountain Vintners & Growers Assn. now total 35.  When I first started going up there to see Bob and Mike Lamborn in the late 1980’s (two different vineyards on opposite sides of Summit Lake Drive), you could count all of them on two hands and still have fingers to spare.  At the base of Howell Mountain, along the Silverado Trail are Beringer, Heitz, and Joseph Phelps, which also benefit from the rich soil.

Notre Vin is also ranked as one of the top Howell Mountain wineries. Even so, they can’t sell all their wine and thus it appeared on WTSO. But more interestingly, this was the second time in about a month that the offering appeared. Now imagine if you were a member of that wine club, how would you feel.

On the other hand there are many small producers (relatively), where if you want the wine you have to join (not talking about the BIG name cult wines and note even they have problems moving their wines). More power to those who can make the transition, they deserve it for the hard work and of course, passion. You will also be able to offer wine to friends that have never seen it before and that should make you feel good.

Forget wine clubs at retail outlets and especially online sellers. Remember that by joining a wine club at a boutique winery you are making a difference and rewarding the ones who do the work, instead of middlemen (made possible by our antiquated post-Prohibition laws.

I just received a blog email that is worth looking at http://blog.merchant23.com/why-2018-will-be-the-year-of-blind-price-wines and ties indirectly into this article. If you like wine, buy it at a local wine shop that has knowledgeable people and fewer, but carefully selected wines. You may pay a little more but at least you will be insuring that they will still be in business, a plus for you! What I am opposed to is the big box stores, especially Total Wine which is destroying competition here in Minnesota that started with a feud with a local store that dared to open one in Florida. To me, it looks like a vendetta but it is the other stores that are being hurt. Some tell me of losing 30% of their sales…that can be the difference between making a decent living and breaking even or worse. While it is true that the big box stores can sell cheaper, they are also marking up the lesser known names by buying all of the wine (i.e. Vino 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon), and selling it for a fraction of the retail price AND they buy it deeply discounted then market it up 35% or more and you thought you were getting a bargain. It also hurts the winery because from then on when they see their similar wine they think it is too expensive. So tell me: who is the winner and who are the losers?

That’s my take on wine clubs and big box stores, use them wisely.

TB

(c) traderbillonwine.com 2018

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