One of the many ways you can buy wine is to join/sign up for a wine club. There are tons of wineries that have a club or some sort of subscription service. The question is why do they do it and why would you want to join.
Why do they do it ? Clearly having a wine club is a great way to guarantee an income stream for a winery. It also helps to create brand loyalty and brings a level of fairness to the distribution of scarce resources , IE wines made in very small amounts, wines not meant to be commercially released or wines that are in high demand due to high scores and good reviews in the press. The bigger issue is margin. If a winery can sell a wine to you off the mailing list it creates a higher % profit than selling it to a wholesale account like the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch. Wineries want you to sign up for the mailing lists and join the subscription clubs. That’s why they ask where you are from when you visit a tasting room. You are more likely to benefit from and subsequently sign up for a wine club if you are from the country the winery is in as foreign shipping of wine is cumbersome and inefficient .
As for why you would want to join it’s only natural a wine lover will start to develop favorite wines and wineries. Either the flavors of the wines appeal to you or there is a particular memory or emotion that is evoked by the purchase or consumption of a wine. Whatever the reason being a member of a wine club insures that your interests take priority over more casual visitor to that winery. Wineries will often create a special bottling or format specifically for a club. Sometimes pricing is better too. In my experience just saving a few $ is not a compelling reason to join a club as many wineries and stores have opportunities to buy at a reduced price. Join because the wines are rare or because you love them.
A couple clubs to consider. One in BC another in the US
Laughing Stock Winery , Link
There are 3 options once you are in the Club
Series A full cases of only a single wine and you get first choice when each wine is released $ depends on which wine you buy.
Series B Red and White wines 6 bottles in total 3 times a year. $ fluctuates. Series B Red only 12 bottles 1 shipment a year in the fall.
Benefits of joining
Free shipping direct to your door – in most provinces
•Free shipping on any additional wine orders of 1 case (12 bottles) or more
•Preferred access to newly released wines and Small Cap, limited production wines
•Preferred access to rare library wines and large format bottlings (ie Magnums)
•Invitation to winery events, including some Shareholder only events
•Complimentary tasting room tastings and private winery tour- with advance notice
•Option to stay in the winemakers residence a weekly vacation rental for Preferred Shareholders only.
•No membership fees and no cost to join
Ridge Vineyards Winery in California Link
If I lived in the US or had a US mailing address this would likely be my personal choice of a wine club. The range of wines offered in the Ridge ATP ( Advanced Tasting Program) program is fantastic , the quality is first rate and the availability of the wines outside of the winery is virtually zero. They also offer a Z lovers membership if you are into Zinfandel and a Montebello Collectors Club if you are looking for the flagship wines.
Membership includes the following
Exclusive members-only offers and discounts on limited production wines
Complimentary tastings for up to 4 guests, members included, at our wineries 20% off tours and private tastings
Complimentary admission to annual winery events
Member Discount on all purchases of current release wines:
10% on 1-11 750 mL bottles/equivalent volume
15% on 12 – 750 mL bottles/equivalent volume or more Discount applies to all club shipments as well
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Remember Spit Happens, tell your friends, drink great wine and eat great food. Cheers