What Type of Wine Club Are You? California Wine Club

This is the first in a series that I’ll call, what type of wine club are you? In this series, I’ll have a look at a number of popular online wine clubs and how they’re permitted to see how that might effect the amount of investment they need, as well as, how that helps to determine the type of wines that they can ship. This was one of the most surprising aspects to me about the wine club business, there’s actually quite a few different choices.

So, up first is California Wine Club. If you’re ready to move on already, have a look at my California Wine Club review where I look into the wines they have actually shipped as well as, shipping time frames, shipping charges, offer some coupon codes and more.

Ok, as you might expect, they are California based and California’s Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) offers a robust search function on their website. Here’s the current slate of permits for California Wine Club:

California Wine Club permitting

California Wine Club is currently permitted as a 9/17/20. In the California, here’s what those mean, this is how we started being permitted, so I have some appreciation for this setup:

Type 9 License: Allows California Wine Club to import wine (and beer!) from out of state.

Type 17 License: Allows California Wine Club to sell wine as a wholesaler. To put that in more plain terms, they are allowed to buy wine from a winery and then sell it to another business that sells directly to consumers, like a restaurant or a wine shop.

Type 20 License: Allows California Wine Club to sell to consumers off site. Basically this is what makes ordering on their website legal. So you can’t walk into the office and buy a bottle of wine to take elsewhere. But, you can order on the website.

So how does being a 9/17/20 license holder effect what type of wines you can receive from California Wine Club? In a lot of ways, this is the industry standard setup. It means you’ll see them continuing to advertise wineries that they’re working with. You can find wines as part of their wine club that are also part of other retail businesses, like grocery stores and other wine shops.

Do winemakers like this setup? Kinda. Here’s how that conversation generally goes…..The big question that ALWAYS comes up, is how much are you going to discount my wine? When you do discount it, because we know you’re going to at some point, will you tell me? Are you going to advertise that discount? You’re not going to seriously put it on Wine Searcher are you? But really, when do you discount my wine and how many people are going to find out about it?

The final verdict: California Wine Club is an Online Retailer. Basically this is the classic setup, which has the lowest bar to entry. Many of these folks won’t even carry the type 9 license in California.