Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

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Adam Frisch
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Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#1 Post by Adam Frisch » August 8th, 2019, 5:04 pm

Starting to draw up the lines on how to structure mine, so wanted to get some feedback to try to avoid pitfalls or unpleasant structures.

What I personally dislike is when they charge you way ahead of release and shipping. I just feel like I'm financing their winery for them. Plus, if it's that far ahead, what's to say they might even be in business 2 months from now? I'm not a bank.

Let me know any or all of your general thoughts, but I will ask these few direct questions as well:

1. Do you prefer more than 2 shipments per year?

2. Would you like to be able to specify if you only want reds or whites?

3. Would you like to be able to specify each wine, like on an a la carte menu, for each shipment?

4. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the lowest tier membership?

5. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the highest tier membership?

6. Do you think the membership list should have more than 2 tiers?

7. What's more important - getting discount or getting early access?

8. How important is it to get wines in the form of specials that will only get released to members? Or doesn't it matter if they also later are available to non-members?

Thanks!
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#2 Post by PaulMills » August 8th, 2019, 5:21 pm

I do not do clubs, only lists. I want to buy the wines I want and not be forced to buy the ones I do not want as some clubs do.

I want to be able to mix and match as I please.

I want to order a three pack this release and a case the next release. I understand minimum orders of say a three pack, but I do not like when it is a three pack of one wine (although I usually buy 2-3 of each wine, I do not like being forced to do it).

Two releases a year is enough.

Discounts are nice, but if I like the wine I am going to buy it anyways.

I am not concerned about early access, just access.

I only care about ‘special’ releases if they are really something I want. I do not care if someone can walk into the winery and buy it. Is it something I am willing to pay a special price for?

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#3 Post by Andrew Ing » August 8th, 2019, 6:17 pm

I'm not a huge fan of clubs. I probably drink about 100 bottles a year and like to research/select each one. I've had some great wines from club shipments that I would not have picked. But, I like to pick each one.

Three packs don't bother me. I always buy more than one bottle. I think that's the best way to get a feel for the wine.

I live in Texas, so I really can't get more than 2 shipments per year. I never drink wine when I get it, so waiting a few months isn't a big deal.

I don't like to finance wine either, but if I get charged in the same month it ships that's fine.

Early access is great. If the members don't buy all the wine, the vineyard should have the chance to sell it to the public.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#4 Post by Brian Tuite » August 8th, 2019, 7:16 pm

You are financing their winery. That’s what customers do. They have two to three years of money invested in each release. Releases are normally done before bottling in order to fund bottling, pay the liquor tax, pay employees, buy new barrels, pay for bottles, labels, capsules, corks etc.. You think you can just print some up and pay the bills?
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#5 Post by J. Rock » August 8th, 2019, 9:48 pm

Ideally:

1. I think 2 is a good amount, but I care more about the total amount of bottles and what bottles I'm getting than how many shipments there are.

2 - 3. Ideally, I'd like to chose the bottles that I get. For example, I don't really like rose, so I'm not going to be happy if a winery forces me to buy some rose; I might love your Rhone varietals, but think your Pinots are not worth the price. The more bottles that I get from the winery that I don't enjoy or don't think are worth the price, the more likely I am to drop my membership. While having the winery chose my bottles might help me expand my horizons or be pleasantly surprised, I think I'd likely be more satisfied if I chose the bottles.

4. The lower the commitment, the easier it is for me to join. Sure 6 bottles twice/year isn't bad, but if I can do 3 twice/year, I might join to support good and/or local people/winery even if it's not the beat wine or deal.

5. I generally wouldn't care what the minimum for the highest tier membership is unless it includes a lot of perks or if it's the only way to get the wine I want. I'd almost always prefer to have a lower minimum with the option to add on.

6. In my opinion, the more options the better as long as it doesn't get too complicated or too demanding. An example of something I don't really love is how Booker has their normal club and then one just for My Favorite Neighbor.

7. Discount. Unless the wine is excellent and extremely hard to get without early access, I don't care about early access. I'll probably lay most of the bottles down anyway.

8. If some/all of the winery's best wines are small releases that are sold out before they get to the general public, I would be tempted to join to get these bottles. I wouldn't necessarily mind if I buy a "members only" bottle and then later see that it's released to the general public, but if I realize I can get the bottles I want for the same or better price without being a member, I have less of a reason to become/remain a member.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#6 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » August 8th, 2019, 11:29 pm

Brian Tuite wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 7:16 pm
You are financing their winery. That’s what customers do. They have two to three years of money invested in each release. Releases are normally done before bottling in order to fund bottling, pay the liquor tax, pay employees, buy new barrels, pay for bottles, labels, capsules, corks etc.. You think you can just print some up and pay the bills?
Also, when I buy off a list, I like to pay for wine rather than shipping and salaries.

For my winery, by charging everyone at each of our mailing list or wine club offers I can manage a bunch of paperwork, set aside wines, and get my shipping packed in a single week(or close to it).
If I charge when it ships, that often works out to being a slew of orders spread out over 2 separate 3 month periods.


Regarding “feeling” like you’re financing the winery, it’s just not the case.

You’ve elected to purchase a product, and in order for you to receive the wines in pristine condition the seller is holding them for you until the shipping method you prefer(ground) is available. I am more than happy to ship you a case of wine(or 3 bottles) via next day air or 2nd day air if you are ready to take possession of your purchase immediately.

While the delays in weather are no fun for the guests, list, and club members, it’s also work storing and making sure the wines are removed from sales inventory, while still remaining on the premises.

Most of my club members and mailing list members prefer to use their money on the wines, and minimize shipping. They enjoy the fact that I will store their purchase for them until weather permits a cost effective delivery to their door.

We also offer both list and club members a menu to choose their preferences. I don’t like sending people wines other than the wines they want. Mailing list can choose however many wines they would like(although a 12 bottle case is a shipping efficiency and I usually offer a break on that quantity, for wine club and list offers to help offset the rising costs of UPS and FedEx) and they receive release pricing for a set period of time(usually 4 days). Wine club members buy 12btls per year, but receive club pricing year round.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#7 Post by GregT » August 9th, 2019, 12:33 am

I probably drink about 100 bottles a year and like to research/select each one.
And why not? Many of us do the same thing. I don't buy any wine unless I know the scores and the board consensus! [cheers.gif]
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#8 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » August 9th, 2019, 5:06 am

I buy directly from many California wineries, but have not ever - and would not ever - be on a list that I didn't get to pick what I bought. In fact, I have dropped off a few mailing lists that required 3-pack purchases of specific wines without any flexibility (such as 2 of 1, 1 of another, or buying 4 rather than 6).

I don't think most people here are members of wine clubs in the model that you describe (regular required purchases of wines selected by the winery).

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#9 Post by Jeff_M. » August 9th, 2019, 6:38 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 5:04 pm
Starting to draw up the lines on how to structure mine, so wanted to get some feedback to try to avoid pitfalls or unpleasant structures.

What I personally dislike is when they charge you way ahead of release and shipping. I just feel like I'm financing their winery for them. Plus, if it's that far ahead, what's to say they might even be in business 2 months from now? I'm not a bank.

Let me know any or all of your general thoughts, but I will ask these few direct questions as well:

1. Do you prefer more than 2 shipments per year?

2. Would you like to be able to specify if you only want reds or whites?

3. Would you like to be able to specify each wine, like on an a la carte menu, for each shipment?

4. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the lowest tier membership?

5. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the highest tier membership?

6. Do you think the membership list should have more than 2 tiers?

7. What's more important - getting discount or getting early access?

8. How important is it to get wines in the form of specials that will only get released to members? Or doesn't it matter if they also later are available to non-members?

Thanks!
I like the mailing list approach as I do not want to be forced to buy X number of bottles every single release. Sometimes money or cellar space is tight and I recognize this in my ordering patterns.

2 shipments per year is fine.

I do like the a la carte menu v being forced to buy something specific.

In terms of how many bottles to ship per tier, that's a wine club membership or order threshold. I respect this as it allows the winery to reward bigger spenders with free tastings, winery exclusive events, cheaper shipments, etc.

I think getting a discount is going to be more important than early access. The only time early access matters is when there is a limited amount of wine available. Sometimes if you don't order as soon as you get the release email wine sells out rapidly. Maybe give a one day head start for your repeat customers.

Special bottlings are indeed special. I would be interested in special bottlings from the wineries I'm ordering from.

One more note, shipping. I have seen some super expensive freight for under full case shipments. One winery wanted a $10/bottle average for freight from NorCal to SoCal. I ended up discontinuing purchasing from that winery due to the high cost of shipping. Shipping costs should be fair and reasonable.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#10 Post by K. Tr@n » August 9th, 2019, 7:18 am

Do wine clubs still force unwanted bottles on you? Maybe i am not looking hard enough but none of the clubs I know do that. Everything is customizable.

1. Do you prefer more than 2 shipments per year? 2 is just right.

2. Would you like to be able to specify if you only want reds or whites? Yes

3. Would you like to be able to specify each wine, like on an a la carte menu, for each shipment? Yes

4. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the lowest tier membership? 3

5. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the highest tier membership? 12

6. Do you think the membership list should have more than 2 tiers? yes

7. What's more important - getting discount or getting early access? discount

8. How important is it to get wines in the form of specials that will only get released to members? Or doesn't it matter if they also later are available to non-members? not that important
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#11 Post by John Peacock » August 9th, 2019, 7:47 am

Speaking with my wife (who has been a wine club and operations manager in the Willamette Valley for more than 10 years), her guess is that 35-40% of her club members say they want the option to choose their wines, but only 10-15% actually change the shipment from the standard release.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#12 Post by Andrew Dodd » August 9th, 2019, 8:12 am

PaulMills wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 5:21 pm
I do not do clubs, only lists. I want to buy the wines I want and not be forced to buy the ones I do not want as some clubs do.

I want to be able to mix and match as I please.

I want to order a three pack this release and a case the next release. I understand minimum orders of say a three pack, but I do not like when it is a three pack of one wine (although I usually buy 2-3 of each wine, I do not like being forced to do it).

Two releases a year is enough.

Discounts are nice, but if I like the wine I am going to buy it anyways.

I am not concerned about early access, just access.

I only care about ‘special’ releases if they are really something I want. I do not care if someone can walk into the winery and buy it. Is it something I am willing to pay a special price for?
Was going to write it up, but realized I'd be saying the same as above.

I think it breaks down to most people here are going to want an "a la carte" list structure.
If you're looking at "wine club membership" you're aiming for people less familiar with wine than those who would frequent the boards here.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#13 Post by Evan Pontoriero » August 9th, 2019, 8:27 am

This!

Answering from ITB rather than as a customer preference.

Tiering seems to be an important part but clubs can become a huge nightmare (mostly with managing the multiple communication emails at release time and fulfillment errors) with the myriad options I have to keep track of to keep customers happy. Available software easily handles custom club orders and tiering these days. It is a necessity though for higher retention of the best clients and trying to project income. Better to have a low tier that you can forecast you are going to have a lot of churn on and see the more reliable projected income at the higher tiers.
John Peacock wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 7:47 am
Speaking with my wife (who has been a wine club and operations manager in the Willamette Valley for more than 10 years), her guess is that 35-40% of her club members say they want the option to choose their wines, but only 10-15% actually change the shipment from the standard release.
Last edited by Evan Pontoriero on August 9th, 2019, 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#14 Post by JLuch » August 9th, 2019, 8:30 am

Adam,

I, as others, am not a member of any clubs for a number of reasons. Mainly I do not like the economics of it, having set fees/structures minimum purchases etc. My general predicament with wine and why I avoid clubs or any winery that forces you in to minimum purchase, is that my want/wish list of wine vastly exceeds my available budget. I would much rather cherry pick from wineries and vineyard sites I enjoy and get the best deals possible. An example of this regarding the Napa Valley would be the wines produced by Mike Smith (Myriad/Quivet) from GIII, Dr. Crane, and Las Piedras vineyards, as I find they are better priced then a lot of other producers from the same sites and of a higher quality.

So my preference is to sign up for lists that allow me to buy what I like. If by chance I miss an allocation or somehow have some extra cash to spend on wine, then the answer for me is simple. Go to my local wine shop and pick up some age worthy, widely available offerings, such as a BV Latour, VHR, Togni, Mondavi To-Kalon, etc and forget about them in the cellar for a decade.

Hope this helps
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#15 Post by Al Osterheld » August 9th, 2019, 8:41 am

As a brand new winery, I think you will probably need to start out mostly mailing list as opposed to club until people get to know your wines and style. It's also worth some thought about how to best get your wines in front of people. Marketing is the hardest part of the business for most new, small wineries.

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#16 Post by Evan Pontoriero » August 9th, 2019, 8:42 am

I think you also need to take in to consideration the differences in why people choose clubs. In many cases it is to participate in the growth story, go to club events and meet (new) friends that you have a common bond with as well as having access to wines not available to regular customers. I find those are the clients that you will retain. We have many with us from our start 10 years ago but that is because of the relationship we have built with our events as well as the wine. Lists are a whole different ballgame. They can rely on scores, your ability to get in front of the press and PR and can be hard to get off the ground unless you already have some hip story or are already have created a cult brand. Also, they can be hazardous for projecting income.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#17 Post by Evan Pontoriero » August 9th, 2019, 8:44 am

Al Osterheld wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 8:41 am
As a brand new winery, I think you will probably need to start out mostly mailing list as opposed to club until people get to know your wines and style. It's also worth some thought about how to best get your wines in front of people. Marketing is the hardest part of the business.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#18 Post by Corey N. » August 9th, 2019, 8:52 am

I don't purchase from lists anymore, partly as a result of a palate shift to more old world wines. Nonetheless, I will answer:


1. Do you prefer more than 2 shipments per year? - No. Shipping is expensive, and I can almost always do better by consolidating purchases.

2. Would you like to be able to specify if you only want reds or whites? - Yes. We drink far more red than white. Plus, not every winery does red and white equally well.

3. Would you like to be able to specify each wine, like on an a la carte menu, for each shipment? - Yes. If someone else is picking for me, I'd want a larger discount.

4. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the lowest tier membership? - I don't care. Given how expensive shipping can be in lower quantities, I don't want to order less than 6 at a time. If you offer 3, than assuming that shipping is not free/highly subsidized, I would be more likely to look elsewhere. While I understand it's psychological, I want to spend money on wine not shipping. Therefore, I'd rather pay $40 for a wine with free shipping, than have 25% off a $40 wine and pay $10/bottle for shipping.

5. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the highest tier membership? - I don't care. I like a lot of producers. It's rare that I purchase more than 12 bottles from any given producer in a given year.

6. Do you think the membership list should have more than 2 tiers? - I don't care. I imagine tiers = discount levels. I'd probablly say no more than 3 though; otherwise it gets confusing for the consumer and a pain for you to manage.

7. What's more important - getting discount or getting early access? - Discount. I rarely drink my wines right away. If you're storing them, that means I'm saving space.

8. How important is it to get wines in the form of specials that will only get released to members? Or doesn't it matter if they also later are available to non-members? - Not all that important. I am looking for wine that I like to drink at a food value; IDGAF about exclusivity. My guess is that is more appealing to guys who want to drop large money on wines like Ovid.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#19 Post by Mike Stoneking » August 9th, 2019, 9:07 am

Don't see this mentioned but I hate the first come-first served concept. If a release opens and I am not in a position to order as soon as the offer opens and I miss out on a bottle that I, and everyone else wants, it pisses me off. You don't need to hold an allocation for weeks, or even a single week. Just give working folks a day or 2 to get their order placed before the herd clears out the barn.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#20 Post by John Peacock » August 9th, 2019, 9:08 am

Evan Pontoriero wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 8:27 am
This!

Answering from ITB rather than as a customer preference.

Tiering seems to be an important part but clubs can become a huge nightmare (mostly with managing the multiple communication emails at release time and fulfillment errors) with the myriad options I have to keep track of to keep customers happy. Available software easily handles custom club orders and tiering these days. It is a necessity though for higher retention of the best clients and trying to project income. Better to have a low tier that you can forecast you are going to have a lot of churn on and see the more reliable projected income at the higher tiers.
John Peacock wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 7:47 am
Speaking with my wife (who has been a wine club and operations manager in the Willamette Valley for more than 10 years), her guess is that 35-40% of her club members say they want the option to choose their wines, but only 10-15% actually change the shipment from the standard release.
Another key finding she has had is to limit the number of tiers/options of the club, even if you have customization options. One winery we worked with had something like 14 different club options, and that's before any customization. It made it an absolute nightmare when processing the club orders.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#21 Post by Nate Simon » August 9th, 2019, 9:30 am

I actually dropped a wine club years ago because they insisted on shipping 4 times a year. I'm in Northern CA, and I don't want anyone shipping me wine from about May through September. Doesn't work. I'm sure the same could be said for most areas of the country. Freezing conditions are obviously a consideration in many areas as well.
Twice a year is fine for me.
I don't like the idea of "tiers" if it's a hierarchical thing, the elites vs. the proletarian drinkers. Let people pick how many bottles they want, and leave it at that. However, I much prefer the mailing list model, which is why I haven't belonged to a club in a long time, and have no intention of ever joining one.
This being said, I do understand the appeal of the "club" model both for consumers and producers, and wouldn't begrudge a winery for using that model. I just wouldn't buy direct from that winery.
Getting a discount and access together is the appeal of most of the mailing lists I'm on, and I think this combo engenders a lot of customer loyalty.
I don't really care if I'm getting a "special" release vs. one that non-members can also acquire. Make the wine good, and I'll buy it.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#22 Post by dsimmons » August 9th, 2019, 9:52 am

Forget clubs. Get on lists where you choose what and how many to buy.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#23 Post by Adam Frisch » August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am

I might have used the wording wine club in a way I didn't intend. I meant wince club as part of the winery and a membership to get wine allocations that you sign up for, not as part of some external club that carries multiple wines from multiple producers. Maybe someone can clarify exactly what the difference is in definition between a membership, mailing list or wine club from winery X? To me they seem interchangeable, but I might be missing a nuance.

If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive? There must be some sort of forcing of the hand here for certain cuvee's, no?
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#24 Post by Karen Troisi » August 9th, 2019, 10:05 am

As others have suggested - I would start a mailing list first as you will probably get list members that move to clubs after they know your wines. Also if you don’t have a tasting room it can be very difficult to build your club membership - much easier to get mailing list sign-ups at pouring events, wine dinners, etc. Clubs take a lot of time - especially when you are just starting out.

We offer three different club levels that ship twice a year - they each have different discounts and different flat shipping rates. Our clubs receive the newest vintages first (about 6 months before our general release). We suggest the wines but our clubs can fully customize their orders.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#25 Post by Nate Simon » August 9th, 2019, 10:06 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
I might have used the wording wine club in a way I didn't intend. I meant wince club as part of the winery and a membership to get wine allocations that you sign up for, not as part of some external club that carries multiple wines from multiple producers. Maybe someone can clarify exactly what the difference is in definition between a membership, mailing list or wine club from winery X? To me they seem interchangeable, but I might be missing a nuance.

If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive? There must be some sort of forcing of the hand here for certain cuvee's, no?
There is an ocean of difference between the two.
WINE CLUB: We send you wine on a regular basis (quarterly, semiannually, whatever). We may pick the wine, allow you to pick, or some combination. There may be one type of shipment only, or variations (whites only, reds only, etc.) It's basically a subscription model. A recurring charge, like your gym membership or cable TV.

MAILING LIST: We tell you when we have wine to offer. You buy what you want (from what's allocated/available). You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. (You might get cut from the list if you don't buy for a while). No obligation.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#26 Post by Corey N. » August 9th, 2019, 10:07 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive?
I think that you hit the nail on the head as to why many people don't like clubs; noboody wants to be forced to buy less desirable wine.

I think you protect yourself with pricing. Better bottles should cost more and less desirable wines/those made in larger quantity should cost less.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#27 Post by Jeff_M. » August 9th, 2019, 10:12 am

Corey N. wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:07 am
Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive?
I think that you hit the nail on the head as to why many people don't like clubs; noboody wants to be forced to buy less desirable wine.

I think you protect yourself with pricing. Better bottles should cost more and less desirable wines/those made in larger quantity should cost less.
+1
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#28 Post by Nate Simon » August 9th, 2019, 10:15 am

Corey N. wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:07 am
Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive?
I think that you hit the nail on the head as to why many people don't like clubs; noboody wants to be forced to buy less desirable wine.

I think you protect yourself with pricing. Better bottles should cost more and less desirable wines/those made in larger quantity should cost less.
Uh...how does a winery prevent people from buying undesirable wine?
Maybe...don't make undesirable wine?

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#29 Post by Evan Pontoriero » August 9th, 2019, 10:16 am

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am

If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive? There must be some sort of forcing of the hand here for certain cuvee's, no?
You mean like having to buy the motor oil like Rousanne to get the Syrah that you really like? Those days are hopefully long gone.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#30 Post by Siun o'Connell » August 9th, 2019, 10:29 am

Yep - no clubs for me. All my wine is bought from lists and my purchases vary a lot from release to release based on what we've been drinking and need to replace, finances and appeal of the offer. Even for winemakers I really like, I never join a club and won't. And while I like the sense the my purchases from small makers pay for the business (one reason I like Berserker Day is that it feels like participating in the sustenance of small vineyards), I have no interest in buying your "less attractive" wines.

Twice a year is good ... three times tops.

Early access - nope. Discount - not essential if pricing is fair but discounts on shipping get my attention (even if that is irrational ;->

Rather than tiers and clubs, tell me a story of why your new project is worth trying, why I would want to get on your list and try your new offering when I already have so many good choices. If you do that well and then deliver a really good wine that offers something fresh in the market ... that's what I look for.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#31 Post by Paul Luckin » August 9th, 2019, 10:32 am

Nate Simon wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:06 am
Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
I might have used the wording wine club in a way I didn't intend. I meant wince club as part of the winery and a membership to get wine allocations that you sign up for, not as part of some external club that carries multiple wines from multiple producers. Maybe someone can clarify exactly what the difference is in definition between a membership, mailing list or wine club from winery X? To me they seem interchangeable, but I might be missing a nuance.

If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive? There must be some sort of forcing of the hand here for certain cuvee's, no?
There is an ocean of difference between the two.
WINE CLUB: We send you wine on a regular basis (quarterly, semiannually, whatever). We may pick the wine, allow you to pick, or some combination. There may be one type of shipment only, or variations (whites only, reds only, etc.) It's basically a subscription model. A recurring charge, like your gym membership or cable TV.

MAILING LIST: We tell you when we have wine to offer. You buy what you want (from what's allocated/available). You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. (You might get cut from the list if you don't buy for a while). No obligation.
well stated.

i would add:

- most traditional "wine clubs" offer a discount on purchases.

- most traditional "mailing list" do not.
\m/ >_< \m/

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#32 Post by Gabe Berk » August 9th, 2019, 10:48 am

Keep it simple in the beginning. Sell wine to those who sign up on your MAILING LIST.

Make everything available for the inaugural release with no minimum order per bottling. Let people choose what and how many they wish up to the limit.

No more than 2 releases a year. Many smaller wineries only do 1 release a year.

Pending on retail cost per bottle, include FREE SHIPPING on 6 bottles or a case.

Reward your best customers with more wine available to buy come release.

Invest on marketing your product including relentless social media. The more people in the know, the more bottles you'll sell. [cheers.gif]

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#33 Post by Sherri S h a p i r o » August 9th, 2019, 10:50 am

Corey N. wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:07 am
Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 9:57 am
If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive?
I think that you hit the nail on the head as to why many people don't like clubs; noboody wants to be forced to buy less desirable wine.

I think you protect yourself with pricing. Better bottles should cost more and less desirable wines/those made in larger quantity should cost less.
This is exactly my belief as well. I won't buy from any winery that forces me to buy wines I don't want in order to get those that I do.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#34 Post by Michael Martin » August 9th, 2019, 11:04 am

If you looking to prime the pump, offer some starter packs that allow folks to sample the wines. From there offer a list that gives members access and a discount with ability to add to their regular shipment.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#35 Post by Chris Seiber » August 9th, 2019, 11:07 am

Like many others above, I don't join clubs, except rarely, and then only if I can completely customize the club order each time.

I think clubs tend to capture the casual wine person, someone making an impulse commitment while visiting, and/or someone who isn't sensitive to price and selection but just wants the convenience of a bundle of wines arriving periodically. From the winery's standpoint, when you can get someone like that on the hook, it's a great thing.

As far as us discerning wine geek types, I think you're only going to get those if demand is strong enough and thus the clout/leverage of the winery is very high. If SQN wants you to have to join their wine club to receive their wines, they could do it, and plenty of people would fall in line. But I think that is pretty rare, among the serious wine enthusiasts.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#36 Post by SeanHarding » August 9th, 2019, 11:13 am

I agree with no clubs (the only club I've ever been a member of was Chateau Ste. Michelle, when I lived nearby and wanted in on the concert presales). But I think this board is a very specific audience. You have to figure out who your core market is. If it's people like us here, then clubs are clearly not very popular. But I know LOTS of more "casual" wine drinkers who join clubs and are quite excited to tell me about the clubs they're members of. If you want to target them, a club might be important.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#37 Post by Scott Brunson » August 9th, 2019, 11:13 am

Siun o'Connell wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:29 am
Yep - no clubs for me. All my wine is bought from lists and my purchases vary a lot from release to release based on what we've been drinking and need to replace, finances and appeal of the offer. Even for winemakers I really like, I never join a club and won't. And while I like the sense the my purchases from small makers pay for the business (one reason I like Berserker Day is that it feels like participating in the sustenance of small vineyards), I have no interest in buying your "less attractive" wines.
A Berserkerday offer could give you some real (free) exposure.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#38 Post by SeanHarding » August 9th, 2019, 11:13 am

Seiber jinx

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#39 Post by Scott Brunson » August 9th, 2019, 11:15 am

[cheers.gif]
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#40 Post by GregT » August 9th, 2019, 11:58 am

If you want to pick and choose your wines for each shipment, how does winery protect themselves from members just picking the most desirable stuff and leaving behind the least attractive? There must be some sort of forcing of the hand here for certain cuvee's, no?
Adam - this is a pretty astonishing question from someone who's seriously considering a business. There is a lot of economic theory and there are even a few Supreme Court cases regarding tie-ins. A tie-in is when a customer is forced to buy product B if he wants product A.

The court cases wouldn't really apply to your scenario, but you might want to look at some of the theoretical work cited if you're interested in background.

The point is that the practice is usually resented by the people who are forced to buy the tied goods.

So you need to be realistic. It is entirely likely that you may end up with wine that you just can't sell for some reason, especially if you're not backed by significant money, grape sources, and wine making know-how. A guy like Paul Hobbs can start up a winery and acquire everything he needs. He also has a reputation. Together, he's got a pretty good shot at selling his wines, although no guarantees. But one of the most important rights in a capitalist system is that a business has the right to fail. If you really end up with less desirable wine, do as suggested and discount it significantly or sell it off in bulk to someone and stop making it. Small winery operations fail all the time because people miscalculated the knowledge, effort, or money needed, or the demand for their product, or their ability to create demand and sell their product.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#41 Post by Steve Crawford » August 9th, 2019, 1:01 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 8th, 2019, 5:04 pm
Starting to draw up the lines on how to structure mine, so wanted to get some feedback to try to avoid pitfalls or unpleasant structures.

What I personally dislike is when they charge you way ahead of release and shipping. I just feel like I'm financing their winery for them. Plus, if it's that far ahead, what's to say they might even be in business 2 months from now? I'm not a bank.

Let me know any or all of your general thoughts, but I will ask these few direct questions as well:

1. Do you prefer more than 2 shipments per year?

2. Would you like to be able to specify if you only want reds or whites?

3. Would you like to be able to specify each wine, like on an a la carte menu, for each shipment?

4. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the lowest tier membership?

5. How many bottles do you want shipped as a minimum in the highest tier membership?

6. Do you think the membership list should have more than 2 tiers?

7. What's more important - getting discount or getting early access?

8. How important is it to get wines in the form of specials that will only get released to members? Or doesn't it matter if they also later are available to non-members?

Thanks!
1. no. just one shipment. id rather spend money on wine and not shipping it.
2.no, clubs are for those that haven't yet realized lists are better for several reasons.
3.see 2.
4. see 2.
5.see 2.
6. no
7. i honestly don't like either. getting a discount to me just means the price was originally inflated. as far as early access, i don't care when i buy.
8. see 2.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#42 Post by Adam Frisch » August 9th, 2019, 1:11 pm

Thanks for all the suggestions!
Nate Simon wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 10:06 am

MAILING LIST: We tell you when we have wine to offer. You buy what you want (from what's allocated/available). You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. (You might get cut from the list if you don't buy for a while). No obligation.
But what's really the difference between that and just having a webshop where your wines are released twice a year? If there's no discount available, then isn't it better to just release to the webshop, drop an email saying so, and have all and sundry come in, members or not?
GregT wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 11:58 am

Adam - this is a pretty astonishing question from someone who's seriously considering a business. There is a lot of economic theory and there are even a few Supreme Court cases regarding tie-ins. A tie-in is when a customer is forced to buy product B if he wants product A.
Just putting the consumers hat on: I make strange varietals. So in theory, and this is why I was asking, let's say I one year release a very small batch of Syrah (which I actually will do year after next), but my main focus is on strange stuff, then I could easily see a situation where the demand for the familiar variety will outstrip the unfamiliar one, just because of the comfort factor. Which might not have any bearing on quality of wine whatsoever. But as someone said, that can probably be regulated with pricing, so not sure what I'm asking... [wow.gif]
Last edited by Adam Frisch on August 9th, 2019, 1:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#43 Post by larry schaffer » August 9th, 2019, 1:28 pm

Adam,

I think what you'll find on this board is not what you would find if you asked questions of consumers on Facebook or perhaps queried 'more popular' wineries in any region.

Most consumers here seemed to have moved away from the 'traditional' wine club concept - but then again, many wineries that are enjoyed on this board are available on a limited basis and therefore they can somewhat 'call the shots'. As a new producer like you are, and making something wines based solely on the mission grape (I think that's what I understand you are trying to do), this may not apply or work.

To answer your last question - there really is not a difference whatsoever. You release the wines, let folks know that they are available, and they purchase what they want.

The 'advantage' of a wine club for consumers is either going to be:

1) Receiving a monetary incentive via a discount and/or
2) The ability to get hard to find wines that you would not get elsewhere

Good luck and I'll be following the thread to see what others have to say.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#44 Post by Adam Frisch » August 9th, 2019, 1:44 pm

Thank you Larry.

Let me ask everyone this then, as an idea. You could have two webshops. One is the one every unwashed can see when they visit the site. Great. Done. Will have that, of course. The other is a hidden one, with earlier releases, and/or perhaps slightly lower prices, that only people that register on the mailing list can access. And if you don't buy within a certain period, a year or so, access might be removed. Seems like less admin as well.

Would that be a good solution?
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#45 Post by Paul Luckin » August 9th, 2019, 1:55 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Thank you Larry.

Let me ask everyone this then, as an idea. You could have two webshops. One is the one every unwashed can see when they visit the site. Great. Done. Will have that, of course. The other is a hidden one, with earlier releases, and/or perhaps slightly lower prices, that only people that register on the mailing list can access. And if you don't buy within a certain period, a year or so, access might be removed. Seems like less admin as well.

Would that be a good solution?
do you have a brick & mortar location?
\m/ >_< \m/

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#46 Post by Adam Frisch » August 9th, 2019, 2:01 pm

Paul Luckin wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 1:55 pm

do you have a brick & mortar location?
I do not. The winery is shared by many producers and not suitable for tastings etc.
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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#47 Post by Nate Simon » August 9th, 2019, 2:09 pm


MAILING LIST: We tell you when we have wine to offer. You buy what you want (from what's allocated/available). You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to. (You might get cut from the list if you don't buy for a while). No obligation.
But what's really the difference between that and just having a webshop where your wines are released twice a year? If there's no discount available, then isn't it better to just release to the webshop, drop an email saying so, and have all and sundry come in, members or not?

[/quote]
The difference is that the mailing list members get "first crack" at the offerings. This gives an exclusivity that generates customer loyalty. It gives a reason to buy from you rather than some webshop.
Also, the mailing list may give members opportunities to get things that are hard, impossible, or more expensive to get in other ways.

Parenthetically, I think many of our replies here could be replaced with, "Just do like Carlisle and Bedrock do."
Last edited by Nate Simon on August 9th, 2019, 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#48 Post by Paul Luckin » August 9th, 2019, 2:11 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 2:01 pm
Paul Luckin wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 1:55 pm

do you have a brick & mortar location?
I do not.
without a brick & mortar location, it seems like a mailing list makes more sense than a wine club.

depending on what e-commerce platform you're on, you should be able to grant access (via login and password) to buyers on your list to "hidden" pages that the general public won't be able to see if they just went to your website. there, you could list certain wines allocated for List Members only if you decide to go that route.
\m/ >_< \m/

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#49 Post by Nate Simon » August 9th, 2019, 2:14 pm

Adam Frisch wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 1:44 pm
Thank you Larry.

Let me ask everyone this then, as an idea. You could have two webshops. One is the one every unwashed can see when they visit the site. Great. Done. Will have that, of course. The other is a hidden one, with earlier releases, and/or perhaps slightly lower prices, that only people that register on the mailing list can access. And if you don't buy within a certain period, a year or so, access might be removed. Seems like less admin as well.

Would that be a good solution?
Just keep it simple. Give list members access a week or two or three earlier, then open up the unsold inventory to everyone.

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Re: Let's talk wine club/mailing list structures.

#50 Post by Adam Frisch » August 9th, 2019, 2:22 pm

Nate Simon wrote:
August 9th, 2019, 2:14 pm

Just keep it simple. Give list members access a week or two or three earlier, then open up the unsold inventory to everyone.
Thanks Nate, thanks everyone, this has been so useful. I think I have a better understanding and perhaps even a plan now.
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