We travel a lot to wine country and one thing for sure we can expect just about each and every time we visit a tasting room, a pitch to join the winery’s wine club. Why, because the winery makes a hefty profit from wine clubs, and the person giving the pitch will usually make a nice commission for getting you to join. I always have to laugh when the host tells us their wine club is free to join. Of course it’s free. The other big laugh is “you can quit at any time.”Of course you can.
There is nothing wrong with joining a wine club, just make sure it is the right one. We have been members of various wine clubs over the years, and we have certainly learned from these experiences what to look for. The first and most important reason for joining a wine club is that it will give you access to wines you enjoy immensely at a discount, and first dibs on any hard-to-get special wines. For example, we joined the Mauritson wine club because we wanted to be able to buy their line of Rockpile wines. These wines are bottled in limited amounts and are very popular. In addition, the winery also offer “Futures”on their Rockpile wines to wine club members. This is where you taste wine from the barrel and buy the wine well before it is bottled. “Future”prices are usually significantly discounted.
What if you don’t drink white wines and you only want reds. Don’t join the club unless you can specify that you want red wines only. Most wine clubs will accommodate this request, if not, don’t join. Why pay for wines you don’t like?
Wine clubs offer discounts ranging from 10 to 20%. Go for the club that offers 20%. The winery is still going to make plenty of money off your purchases at this discount.
We think there is little advantage to joining a wine club at a big corporate winery. You will usually find their wines at the big discount stores at less than wine club members pay for the wine. Small wineries tend to offer the best wine clubs and often you can meet the owners and the winemaker. It’s really a lot more fun when you come into the tasting room and the staff recognizes you and welcomes you by name.
Finally, when the wine club no longer meets your needs, bite the bullet and call the winery and tell them you want out of their wine club. “Once a wine club member, always a wine club member,’ is the mantra of all wine club managers.