Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wine Clubs

A simple search of the web uncovers a bewildering array of wine club offers. They basically fall into four major categories – clubs offered by wineries featuring only the products they produce, clubs offered by retailers and specialty wine shops, clubs affiliated with organizations – non-profits, credit card companies, Alumni organizations, etc. – and companies specifically offering only wine clubs for sale.

Which one is best for you depends on a myriad of factors, including quantity shipped in a year, price point, variety, customer service, and quality. The most important of these are quality of the wines and the customer service experience. Let’s look at each category’s pros and cons.

  • Winery clubs. The good news is that you usually know exactly what you are getting. The bad news is that you know exactly what you are getting. With a few exceptions, wineries tend to produce the same wines year after year. The best ones strive for consistency in their products, understanding that yearly fluctuations in climate can impact a wine’s flavor profile. If you join one of these clubs, you will mostly likely get the same wines year after year. However, as someone once said variety is the spice of life – these clubs can get a tad boring after a year or two.
  • Retailers and specialty wine shops. These clubs usually offer the best selections in terms of variety and wine quality. The best ones have wine knowledgeable staff who select the wines based upon what it actually tastes like, not just what they happen to have an overabundance of in their warehouse. One of the key factors in selecting one of these establishments to give your wine dollars to is customer service. Do they have a real person I can talk to if there is a problem with the wine, the shipment, my credit card? Sadly, many do not, which can lead to a very frustrating experience.
  • Affiliate clubs and wine club only businesses. The two of these are lumped together because while you think you may be having your favorite PBS wine expert involved in the wine selection for your affiliate club, the actual selection and fulfillment is usually done by one of many companies who specialize in creating wine clubs for both their own interests as well as affiliate marketing. Quite often, these have wines that are what we call “one offs”, ghost label excess wines purchased and labeled specifically for the lowest price point with little regard to quality and true value – what we at Bounty Hunter call “taste per dollar”.

What makes us different? We have the expertise in selecting only the best wines for our wine clubs, wines that deliver great value at their price point, wines that taste like they should cost much more. We have the variety and affordability in our nine proprietary clubs, so you can get up to 36 different wines to taste in a single year. We have the customer service support that extends from our in-house personal sommeliers (Wine Scouts as we call them) to our fulfillment staff. We stand by our products, and, if you don’t like what you get, we want it back. We tell you the stories behind the wines, introduce you to the people behind the products, the families with terroir and fermentation in their DNA. And, if you want more, we can often satisfy your craving for a few more bottles of that certain wine that woke up your palate.

Not that we are biased, but we are convinced we have “the best damn wine clubs in the business.”

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