Decisions, Decisions

Upon perusing our credit card statement, it came to Matt’s attention that we spend a good chunk of our income on wine. Since we are planning to buy a house, we really need to get our spending in check. The bulk of what we spend on wine comes through our club shipments. And while I love all of them for different reasons, even I will admit that shipping wine across the United States direct to my door is not very cost effective. Most of the wines themselves are priced reasonably enough, it’s the shipping costs that are killing the cost effectiveness. When a $50 shipment of wine costs $84 because of shipping, we’ve got an issue. Additionally, we went a little nuts when we discovered the idea of wine clubs and got in over our heads. I think the best solution is for us to keep the ones we love the most and stock up by reordering the club shipment wines if we like them at a discount and with the splitting the shipping cost option that some often offer (Matt said I need to cut immediately). In alphabetical order, here are our clubs:

De la Montanya
Hop Kiln
Nelson Family

If we kept them all, we end up with around 127 bottles shipped to our house per year with approximately 42 shipments. And really, it’s the shipping costs that are killing us. Each shipment has an average of around $30 in shipping costs. So we’re talking around $1300 a year just in shipping costs. $1300 is a lot of wine that we could buy. Some of these are going to be easier to cut than others because I can find some of them in the stores here (not many though) which I didn’t realize when we joined since I didn’t move to this area until after we came home from California. I need to pick between 4-6 to cut. Anyone have any suggestions, if you are at all familiar with any of these? Or in other words, make my decision easier!

8 Responses

  1. Interesting problem. I had a similar one recently. Now I only subscribe to wine clubs where I a) believe in the mission of the winery and b) find they produce a consistently yummy, interesting range of wines. Looking over your list I would immediately say to keep Quivira and Roshambo. That may tell you more about my wine preferences than yours, though. In general, I try to support smaller wineries that I have a hard time finding in stores.

  2. I would try to stay on the wine club lists that are closed to the public because they are full. If that’s all of these wineries, then that’s a bit tougher…*) But surely at least a few of these wine clubs have plenty of space and VA distribution (like Ferrari-Carano?). So yeah, I’d decide which ones I would regret leaving because I can’t get the wine and I can’t rejoin the list since it’s full already.

  3. My first read of your blog and really think you should cut way back on the clubs, b/c as you note, that $1300 in shipping can buy 2 or 3 cases of fine wine. I’d definitely dump Marimar, F-C, Fritz, Hanna and Alderbrook. Another thought is to use Wine-Searcher to search all of these vintners and see who stocks what locally. Finally, branch out, track down some Sourthern Rhone which has great values from 2004 just coming on the market. Good luck. Tim

  4. Interesting that you bring up this topic. I just started working with a promising wine e-commerce startup that is looking to solve this exact problem.

    Its a configurable wine club that gives you a queue (a la Netflix) and you decide how many bottles you get and how often and from which winery. As the Queue empties you just add to it with more wines.

    Best part? Pay $4.95 per month in membership and any order over $35 is FREE SHIPPING. Buy 100 bottles at once? FREE SHIPPING. Buy 2 $18 bottles? FREE SHIPPING.

    I joined this company’s management team because I buy wine all the time online, I’ve been trying to figure out how to solve this EXACT problem for a looooonngg time, and I believe when this site builds out its going to be HUGE!!!

    (BTW: the $4.95 membership is for a limited time – WineQ is in Beta form right now)

  5. Wow – you should quit ALL of them and join The Twisted Few! We discount the wine club wines to the case price, and we don’t charge $30 for shipping – our current rate to VA is $14.

    I apologize for the shameless plug (sort of 🙂 but any winery that is charging you $30 to ship two or three bottles is either making money off the shipping or is using the wrong shipping company. Making money off of your best customers like that is not right in my book.

    The WineQ suggestion is a good one, by the way….

  6. Off the top of my head, I’d leave Ferrari Carano, as it is widely available in my area. That may not be the case for you, however.

    I recently changed one of my wine clubs to a twice a year shipment. I get the same amount of wine as quarterly, but less frequently. Shipping costs the same (most places charge the same to ship 6 bottles as they do for 203).

    Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the input everyone! Keep it coming, Matt wants my decision by this weekend so we can take care of the cancelling before next month’s shipments come.
    Joel, I will definitely look into that, it might be a much better option for us long term, especially with the free shipping costs!

    El Jefe, it sounds like you guys really look out for your customers. I like that. I’ve always been fairly certain that some of our clubs are making money on us, especially when I see the great variation in shipping costs from place to place despite the fact that they are all coming from the exact same area of the country. I hope to catch up with you guys on your DC trip…I definitely want to check out your wines!

    Annoymous, I really like the idea
    of combining shipments. I will have to check with our clubs that remain and see if they will do that for us. It would certainly save us some shipping $!

  8. I would say keep Roshambo, Quivira, ALderbrook and Ferrari – Carano. I agree with huevos that F.C. is widely distributed but a lot of what they send in their club is not, and is really good wine.

    SEe ya later.

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