If you’re here looking for your daily wine review, it will be up in the morning. We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a PSA about wine clubs.

Let’s talk about wine clubs and service to your customers.  I like to consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of wine clubs.  I currently belong to 8 wine clubs and over the years I’ve belonged to ones at around 20 different wineries. I can tell you exactly what made me leave each of the clubs I no longer belong to, and most of it can be attributed to service.  At this point, I thought I had seen it all, but I was wrong. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

First, and fundamentally, I believe that all wineries with clubs need to understand a few things. One, your club members are generally your most loyal client base.  Second, those club members are likely to be ambassadors for your brand as they think you are worthy of their wine dollars on a regular basis.  Finally, there are hundreds upon hundreds of winery wine clubs out there and your members will leave if you don’t treat them well.

Now let’s talk about today’s economy.  To sum it up quickly, it sucks.  And if you haven’t realized that, your head is in the sand.   It’s no different for your wine club members.  Your attrition rate for your wine club may already be up and if it isn’t up yet, consider yourself lucky.  I believe wineries should be doing everything in their power to retain their wine club customers through this rough patch so your base will still exist when the economy picks up again.

Today I received this email from a wine club I have belonged to for years:

“Important news about your wine club shipments:

As one of our members who receives two shipments of juicy (redacted) reds each year, we’re happy to tell you that you’ll be receiving nine of our released wines in your future shipments. In the coming April release, some of the bottles we’re including are the highly acclaimed (redacted), rated 95 points last year by (redacted), our delectable (redacted), the much-anticipated and very limited (redacted), our single-vineyard (redacted) and the old-world inspired (redacted).

Watch for our email coming the week of March 16 that will list all bottles and their quantities as well as give you a chance to fill up the whole case with no extra shipping.”

The email was titled “Important News About Your April Wine Club Shipment.”  The news, so I’ll make the problem patently obvious to you, is that currently shipments contain 6 bottles twice a year.  Without any other options given, and no opt out other than to cancel, this wine club has made the unilateral decision to increase the wine club purchase by a full 50% per year.  Let’s do the math here. At this particular winery, the bottles average $30 a bottle. Adding 3 bottles to each shipment increases my cost $180 a year in just wine, not to mention the extra shipping, but thanks by the way for allowing me to add 3 MORE bottles to this to make it a full case at the same shipping cost. (Which really isn’t any savings to me…and is why I buy wine in 6 pack or case increments as they are the most efficient way to ship across the country. Additionally, it costs the same to ship me 9 bottles as it does to ship me 12, so this is literally NO savings.)

This is not the time to increase costs for your customers.  Now is the time to help them save money.  And keep them happy so they’ll stick with you.  This email should have been titled “How to lose customers in 10 minutes or less.”  My favorite part is the first sentence where the club attempts to make it seem like they are doing ME a favor by selling me this extra wine automatically.  Excuse my while I go check out the flying pig I think I just saw.


Very Cool Label

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for Wines of Chile.

I’m not usually one who is intrigued by wine labels.  But this one is seriously pretty cool looking. I hope you can tell from my photo, but the label actually looks like a painting and it’s textured. It caught my attention.  I chose the 2004 Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon to drink the other night (I’m getting through that case of Chilean wines, I’ve only got 4 left….!).  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $42. I saw somewhere that it scored in the 90s from Parker, so I would venture to guess that accounts for the price point…

On the nose I found pomegrante, strawberry, jam, herbs, earth, a little eucalyptus/mint in the Vick’s variety, slight funk, and some other sweet fruit.  In the mouth I got flavors of strawberry, red currants, spice, herbs, and cherry.  I think I did this wine a diservice by drinking it alone.  It probably should have been served with a nice marbled steak.