Mailbag Monday: Wine Clubs?

Dear Alleigh:
I’m a long-time reader so I thought I would ask your opinion.  My Husband and I are debating whether to join a wine club, and I was wondering what you think of them. I tried searching your website but couldn’t find any detailed information on wine clubs.

I have mixed feelings about specialty clubs.  I often think about joining membership or monthly clubs, and not just wine ones.  I’m intrigued by all of them—cheese, bacon, yarn, etc.  However, when I really sit down and weigh out the pros and cons, the downsides often sway my decision.  On the one hand, not only can I always have the item I love on hand, and the latest item at that, but also I have access to special items or events that are only available to club members (and who doesn’t want that wine-club member exclusive blend or access to the vintage release tasting party?!).  At the same time, though, being part of a club means I don’t have control over the individual purchases (what a waste of money if I don’t like the particular vintage!).  Plus, having more of that item means I’m less likely to make a spur of the moment purchase, which also means I’m missing out on finding something new.  So, as you can see, I’m torn.

The package I sent for a wine & yarn swap, which included Storybook Mountain Winery Zinfandel and Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn

The package I sent for a wine & yarn swap, which included Storybook Mountain Winery Zinfandel and Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn

That said, I belong to one winery wine club—Storybook Mountain Winery. There are non-winery related wine clubs that I’ve looked into over the years, but at the end of the day, I’ve always decided that I prefer to buy wines individually.  And, while I’ve thought about joining a second winery’s club, the one I was considering was just too expensive and most of the benefits involved being local.  The Foxy level of Storybook Mountain’s club, though, is the perfect combination of price and quality even though I miss some local benefits such as spit-roasted lamb parties in their redwood grove.  Storybook makes some of my favorite wines, and being a club member means I always have 3 bottles of the latest releases.  For me, that’s worth it.

I also have to admit that actually just caved and joined my first yarn club through my local yarn store, Fibre Space.  This particular yarn club includes not only receiving Neighborhood Fiber Company’s fabulous yarn, which I’m very excited about, but also getting a pattern to accompany each skein and attending regular club member get-togethers to work on the latest project involving the yarn.  In this case, it really was the “extras” that made the club worthwhile for me, and those would not have been possible if I wasn’t local.

I guess this is my long way of saying that there is no right or wrong answer.  I think being a club membership can have a lot of value, as long as the club organizers price it properly and balance the benefits for both local and non-local members.  And, deciding if the benefits are worth the cost means some careful analysis on your part.  The thing to remember, though, is that there is no wrong decision.  Signing up is not a lifetime decision.  After a year, if the club just isn’t working for you, then you can always pass on extending your membership.  But, when you start getting those unexpected wine deliveries at your door, you might decide that you made the right choice in joining afterall.

Question of the Day:  What are your thoughts on specialty club memberships?   Do you have any?

Thanks for emailing!  Cheers!

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  1. says

    We were part of a wine club for about a year and a half. The only reason we dropped out was because my boyfriend lost his job and it just wasn’t a priority.

    We belonged to Quenett–one of our favorite wineries in Hood River. I loved every single one of their wines and it made sense to join the club. We got discount wine, free tastings and invited to the annual party.

    • says

      Lisa…I dropped my wine club membership when Hubby was unemployed, as well. It’s one of those luxuries that I enjoyed, but it was also one of the first to go. That said, 8 months later when he found a new job, one of the first things I did was rejoin.

      I don’t think I know Quenett, but I’m off to check out their website.

  2. says

    We’re winery club members at our local winery, Arrington Vineyards, (living in Tennessee means we don’t have to decide between a bunch!), and it’s definitely worth it. We get discounts on wine and special invitations to events and little perks like not having to wait in line for tastings. When we visit CA and OR, it’s so tempting to join a bunch of clubs, but I do think a lot of the value is in being local or getting special unreleased wines.
    And different wineries do things differently. We’re on “the list” at Arista Vineyards in Sonoma, which means that we get to purchase first, but if you don’t purchase after so many months, you lose your spot on the list. That works better for us instead of getting an automatic shipment every quarter or whatever.

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