In one of the more interesting launches in the wine club space in some time, Travel and Leisure has launched a wine club.
Unlike the other major media backed clubs though, they aren’t using the same cast of characters to fulfill cheap, generic wine in nice looking bottles (see my newspaper wine club entry for more). Instead they partnered, smartly, with Vintage Wine Estates.
First, who is Travel and Leisure? Yes, they have a magazine so they come with the requisite email addresses and free advertising platform. They also own a range of hotels and timeshares including RCI which is the largest timeshare trading platform around. So there’s the marketing pitch right?
Second, who is Vintage Wine Estates? Basically, this is a long tale of corporate purchases and more, but this started as Girard Winery in Napa and now is an umbrella organization for 30 brands. Some of the purchases were simply when the founding winemaker wanted to leave: like Qupe. Others were distressed sales like the household name of Cameron Hughes. I continue to receive my daily email from Cameron Hughes and even titled from his own email, despite Cam not being with the winery named after him for quite some time (it went through BK as the debt load overwhelmed sales). Anyway, LOTS of wineries. Some big, some small, some giant. They span the west coast from Santa Barbara on the Central Coast to Washington.
So why is this a wine conglomerate fighting back? Quite simply, Vintage Wine Estates can do exactly what other new age wine clubs do on a monthly basis: ship all kinds of different wine. I’d guess they produce many times the wine that Firstleaf or Winc does. But unlike those two online brands, Vintage Wine Estates has physical wineries you can visit. They can throw free tastings and eventually even stuff like hotel stays at customers because of their partnership with Travel and Leisure.
So I think we can see what’s about to happen here. You know those timeshare sales weekends? Come to Vegas, or Palm Springs or anywhere in Florida and gives us an hour of your time to listen to our pitch. Everybody HATES those right? What about join our wine club and we’ll give you a free 3 night stay at a timeshare of your choice (off season of course!)………it’s coming and they’ll add members quickly. My question is how big the market will be for this. My wine clubs existed in a higher priced tier than others and it was a tough road. But, I’m excited to see a brand attempt to combine wine with a more physical presence instead of just online sales.
This is new and that’s fun.