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How Wine Clubs Have Changed Over The Years

by Mark Aselstine

Over the years, there have been a number of changes to how wine clubs are sold as well as how they function. Some of those changes have occurred because of law changes, others have been brought on by forces completely outside of the wine industry itself.

Change #1: Shipping Time Frames

A decade ago, it wasn't unusual to sign up for a wine club, only to not see a shipment for at least a month. For a winery direct wine club, it could be multiple months before their next quarterly shipment. Amazon started pressuring all businesses by offering 2 day Prime shipping and now Amazon offers same day delivery for some parts of the country. The concept of waiting to ship until the end of the month is long gone. It's hard to think of shipping happening more quickly as a negative for anyone.

Change #2: Cheaper Wine Being Sold Online

A couple of years ago, the only wine available for purchase online (with a few exceptions) was quite expensive. Anything under $20 was still sold in person. A few things have helped to make the $13-$17 price point possible all of the sudden. First, yes, shipping is cheaper per bottle and wine clubs are selling wine often by the case and not in 2 bottle packs any longer, or at least as much. Secondly, a few fulfillment houses have sprung up in places that aren't Northern California. We all know it's cheaper to ship wine by the pallet and having some of your wine sitting in the Midwest and the east coast means you've cut that shipping costs. Additionally, many online wine clubs have a better understanding that even if you take a loss on a customers first shipment, the lifetime value of that same customer can be quite high.

Change #3: Everyone is a Winery

About a decade ago, many of us thought that retailers would be soon treated like wineries and be shipping to every state. For a couple of years, we were right. Then a series of SCOTUS decisions allowed states to treat wineries and retailers separately. The result? Everyone had to become a winery so they could legally get to 51/50 whereas a retailer can legally get to 14/51. Big difference right?

I hope you've enjoyed my 3 ways that wine clubs have changed over the years. There are more of course, but sitting here in 2022, these seem to be the most obvious.

About the Author

Mark Aselstine - Mark owned and operated an online wine club for about a decade, before SCOTUS decided it didn't like his business model. He now covers the industry from a true insiders perspective.

Visit Mark Aselstine's Website