So this is the first in a series of entries I’ll have about the Stag’s Leap Wine Club.
Stag’s Leap Wine Club is going to be an especially interesting case here at Wine Club Reviews for a few reasons, but mostly because it’s a well established physical winery, which is attempting to sell their wine clubs online, something normal wineries have struggled with to the point of quitting over the years. Today I’ll focus on the benefits they’re selling and how they’re able to have a different set of benefits than the virtual wineries I’ve been spending most of my time writing about, then looking at pricing and how that might effect the number of members they could realistically find online. Lastly, I’ll take a look at the company which now owns Stag’s Leap and how success here, might open the door to many, many other physical wineries entering the space in quick succession.
Here’s the Stag’s Leap Wine Club benefit matrix:
I think the most interesting part of a physical winery entering the wine club space in earnest, is that when you look at the benefit chart, half of what they’re selling as benefits aren’t available to their digital only competitors.
Complimentary tastings for Stag’s Leap Wine Club members: This is standard winery fare, but in the online wine club space you’ll never, ever be able to see a free bottle of wine. Why? Simply put, it’s illegal to give someone free wine. You can do promotional samples (see my FTC Disclosure) but a winery with a physical tasting room can also offer free, educational tastings. With most of these in Napa Valley now running $20 a pop, if you’re there even twice a year, this can be a more significant benefit than it appears at first blush.
Private Experiences: I mean, if I’m a Stag’s Leap Wine Club member…..how could I not want to have a glass of wine with my wife while we play a game of bocce?
Events: Here’s the big question. The first two selling points, free tastings and private experiences are very much targeted to those either local to the Bay Area, or who travel to Northern California wine country consistently. I found when running my own wine club though, that my members were much more geographically diverse than I expected them to be. As an example, for years I had more wine club members in Nashville than I did in San Francisco. So, can the Stag’s Leap Wine Club bring their physical winery directly to enough cities across the country to make these free tastings and other benefits available and worthwhile? Their ownership might have a better chance than others, but if this just ends up a LA, SF and LA thing….it won’t work.
One last note on the Stag’s Leap Wine Club benefits matrix: that shipping charge. $15 is about what you pay to ship 2 bottles across the country, so yeah, at the case level, you’re getting a very real discount from the $50 or so it is costing the winery….but most wine clubs offer free shipping. This is one of the questions that the Stag’s Leap Wine Club will have to answer, do they know exactly who they’re competing against?