I’m pretty sure that whoever came up with the concept of the wine club also invented the time-share.  The feeling of the consumer is roughly the same:  A bit of buyer’s remorse followed by the realization that it’s the gift that keeps giving (and charging).

Sure, you get steep discounts on your wine for signing up on the spot.  But more than likely the fine print will tell you that you’ve just signed up for quarterly shipments of four bottles of wine that average $50/bottle.  Quick math tells me… um… that’s 16 bottles of wine for $800.   Dude.  You just spent $800 on wine!  It’s ok if you *really* like it.  But let’s face it, most of us are Tuesday night drinkers… right?  Oh yeah, I almost forgot – there’s shipping added to the cost too, which is another $30/shipment, so add $120 and you ‘ve almost dropped $1K on your wine.   And you have a minimum 1-year commitment.  Ouch.

With that doomsday scenario laid out, I need to disclose two things:

1.       Not all wine clubs are evil – in fact, a lot of them are pretty good.  And as a club member, the consumer really does receive some extra benefits while at the winery and elsewhere.

2.       I, myself, belong to a few clubs.  Granted, I have also shedded a couple that weren’t terribly favorable in place of a couple that are.

Finding a wine club that’s a good fit for you:

  • Do you like the winery, the staff, and the wine selection? If you answered yes to these questions — and it’s not readily available to you in your local area — it may be a good fit
  • Wine club terms and conditions should be transparent so you know exactly what you’re gonna get (aside from the case of wine you just bought).
  • Is there flexibility with types of shipments that are available?  Some clubs allow members to choose from a few different options, such as reds-only, mix, limited shipments, etc.
  • If the winery is at a location that you can visit fairly often, see if you can avoid the shipping costs by picking up directly.
  • Do the math – can you afford one year of wine plus shipment cost?

The bottom line is you shouldn’t be pressured into joining on the spot.  Take your time to make the right decision and you won’t be disappointed (or surprised).