Wine Clubs & Why To Consider Them

Wine clubs are still a very popular occurrence, it is a way for wine club members to enjoy and experience new wines in the comfort of their homes. Wineries often have wine clubs too that are a bit different because their wine club membership gives exclusive discounts or access to particular vintages, and similar. Let us discover more about the wonderful world of wine clubs and some history.

About the Wine Market…

There has been a lot of talk about wine tariffs, basically, 2019 ended with a fear of the US implementing 100% tariffs on certain European goods, among those are cheese and wine. Therefore, 2020 and the new decade got off to a bit of an uncertain start with discussions and petitions, until Macron and Trump seemed to have reached a temporary truce. Therefore, Italy manages to remain outside the higher tariffs, at least for now.

Wine exports or wine imports depending on the point of view, are not the only way to sell wine. Another important way is the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) sales that have been an important way for wineries in the US to increase their sales. During the last few decades, DTC has become more and more fundamental for a winery to sell its wines. In Italy, this has taken off in a more exponential way during the last few years but it is still fairly limited to certain more well-known wine areas. (See more in our article 3 Reason to Visit a Boutique Winery in Tuscany)

A crucial part of DTC is focused at the wineries with welcoming people in the tasting rooms and to give visitors a personal tasting experience. These experiences that lead to sales and faithful customers have a limit though, it takes a lot of work and effort and you can only welcome a certain number of visitors in a day. In fact, Paul Mabray, CEO of Emetry, says that the coming decade will be all about learning how to take the DTC online, analyze and use data to “drive consumer relationships”, and in that way aiming for growth. (See At 2019 Close, Wine Marketing—Past And Future—Is Tied To Social Media, by Thomas Pellecchia in Forbes.)

Traditional wine marketing is becoming heavier to manage for success and, instead, there will certainly be a need, not only in Italy but, generally, for wineries to learn to invest in marketing that caters to the consumers, their needs, interests, and hanging out where the consumers and fans are. There will be a need to understand your audience and their values in life as to be a successful brand people need to know, like, and trust you. Social media is in this context an important tool to reach your audience and have conversations with them to learn more about them.

An Overview of Wine Club Companies

If we return to wine sales, wine clubs are an important channel to sell and buy wine both in the US and in Europe. To buy wine by a monthly or annual subscription to a wine club is a model that has been around since the 1970s, but surely it has become more and more popular during the last decade.

Wine clubs can be a good way to experience new wines that are delivered directly to your doorstep without having to drive to a wine shop. They can work in different ways, generally, you get a monthly delivery by either ordering based on a selection according to the subscription fee or getting a mixed box with a bottle of wine. There are many different plans depending on each wine club.

In the US, Winc seems to be an appreciated wine club with an easy interface allowing you to choose your monthly selection of wines. Naked Wines is a company in the UK where the monthly subscription fee goes to support independent winemakers all over the world. Then on top of that, you order the wine from these smaller producers. Many of the wine merchants in the UK, such as Berry Bros & Brudd and The Wine Society, seem to have a wine club added to their online e-commerce platform where subscriptions vary from being monthly to quarterly or yearly. (See The best wine subscriptions by Lulu Chang in Business Insider and 8 of the Best Wine Subscription Services in the UK in The Drinks Business for more on that.)

Talking specifically about Italian wines, Jackson & Seddon is a small importer with e-commerce owned by Rob Seddon from the UK that has also a wine club attached to it. He is focusing on Italian organic wine from smaller producers mainly in Tuscany though he is including wines from other regions too.

Learn more about your customer

It is fun to be part of a wine club and most of them today have quizzes and questions they ask you to understand your taste and better being able to suggest wines that suit your palate. It is a way to work the algorithm in your favor. For the wine club member, it can be a great way to broaden your wine knowledge and earn discounts and gifts. as well as to learn more about the various wines from your favorite winery.

Wine clubs in Italy like Montemaggio can land you a Chianti Classico like this one

Wineries with Wine Clubs

Wine clubs are not limited to being wine merchants online with e-commerce platforms but, in fact, many wineries also in Italy today have their own wine clubs. In the US, it has been a phenomenon for some decades linked to the tasting room experience as a way to keep the customers coming back to buy wine from them.

A winery can in its wine club offer

  • A discount on their wines
  • First access to new vintages or new wine labels
  • Invitations to special tasting events
  • Have a fixed number of wine boxes with special vintages sent out per year to its members
  • Have different membership levels to subscribe to
  • …and much more

If we look closer at the model with different membership tiers or levels, this means that a customer generally can choose between levels such as bronze, silver, gold, or even platinum. Some wineries name their different levels after other wine terms such as Grand Cru, Premier Cru, etc. As a member, you often pay a monthly fee to get special wines from that specific winery.

This is an excellent way to nurture your most valued customers and to find new customers who want to learn more in-depth about winery collections and vintages.

Did you know that when you sign up to the exclusive Il Millecento wine club of Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino, you also get an invitation once a year to come to the winery for a visit and a tasting? This includes a visit to their wine club room that looks more like a gentlemen club than a tasting room. The membership fee is, of course, very steep.

Montemaggio’s Wine Club

As a way to offer a more exclusive experience for our treasured wine friends and customers, we have started a Wine Club here at Fattoria di Montemaggio, more like a subscription. However, in the future, there will be different membership levels to choose from. Thus, you can select the option that is best for you.

Be sure you are on our mailing list so you get the news about our wine club.

Stay tuned to get on board this amazing new wine adventure!

Written by Katarina Andersson.

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