I recently received an email from a winery in the Midwest asking for my opinion on capping wine club memberships. This winery has an enviable problem: many times they run out of wine in the tasting room before their next year’s wines are ready for release because the wine goes to wine club members.
If, for any reason, the winery is not in a position to increase production or the owners choose not to, capping the wine club is a good move. Though telling people that they will be put on a waiting list until a spot in the wine club becomes available often times makes people more determined to become a wine club member. Oh, that we should all have these problems…
Before you put a cap on the club make sure you have put into place the new processes and procedures to go forward successfully. Here are a couple of ideas:
Redo your wine club brochure explaining your new way of handling the club.
• Explain why you have capped the club and instituted a waiting list.
• Talk about the waiting list and what people can expect.
Take advantage of the opportunity to create a loyal following from people on the waiting list.
• Stay in contact with waiting list members two or three times each year, to maintain their interest in being in the club.
• If you have wine available, offer the waiting list a chance to buy a bottle or two.
For those of you just starting a wine club, before you start the club, figure out how many members you can accommodate – given the limitation of your production, time and staff. Put a cap on the club from the beginning and let visitors know that the club is capped.
Be prepared for success, so that when you are successful you are already equipped to handle it.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will all have to face this “problem” sooner or later!
A tip of the glass from me to you,