I have always been skeptical of wine clubs. I have always thought that wines that are packaged (and sometimes delivered) that way, just can't stand on their own on a standard retail shelf. They have to be sold by subterfuge in a package deal. But maybe that's just my suspicious nature.
Wine clubs are big, by the way. Some are run by large corporations completely unconnected to the industry. Others are run by wineries, retailers, or affiliated wine license holders. All offer a "deal" on a couple bottles of wine or more. Most of these offer an exclusive angle like scarcity or high critics' numerical scores as a hook to draw public interest.
I have also always suspected that wine clubs were for beginners. After all, the assumption is that if someone else picks out the wines, they will somehow be better than if I pick them out myself. Hopefully if this scenario is accurate, the novice hooks up with the right club and not one that is selling losers or wines that are so generic they have no character or distinction...lest they might offend anyone.
This subject, by the way, comes here today again by way of Lettie Teague who wrote about wine clubs in the January 30th edition of the WSJ. It is also timely for us because we here at V&C are about to try once again to get a wine club started here. This time though, ours would be an original. Ours would be a wine and cheese club. Two bottles of red wine and a half pound of complementary European cheese and I think it'll work. Actually it makes me salivate just thinking about it.
If we get the V&C wine and cheese thing going, that would obviously offer a different motivation to join. After all, the magic in the experience wouldn't be in the wine but rather, the experience of the combination of the two and sometimes that is memorable indeed.
I recently learned of a contract winemaker in California that was trying to start a new project using the "Kickstarter" model. This contractor is an industry veteran with a resume replete with a history of successful chain store labels. Some vertically integrated contractors solicit business from people with a catchy wine label idea and take the ball and run with it by mass producing the wine you want, warehousing it, and even marketing it for you if you have deep enough pockets for such a latch key endeavor. So if the kickstarter contractor mentioned above finds investors who are all of the same mindset wine-wise, that too could be a new wine club model.
Next Friday the 13th of February after 5pm, we will host Allen Rogers of Atlanta Beverage who will pour tastes of Pouilly Fuisse, Oregon Pinot Gris, two from Cahor, France, two from Proemio of Argentina, and Mureda Tempranillo from Spain. Please join us.