opportunity knocking

Friday, October 07, 2011

I will struggle manfully not to begin this blog with a retelling of the old joke about the piano tuner named Opporknockity (well, briefly, he would only tune the same piano once because... you get the drift).

Anyway, I am sensing an opportunity for those who have found themselves shut out of certain wine club memberships, or are perhaps a bit unhappy with their limited allocations. A brief window of time may afford some entry for those persistent enough to act.

Why do I say this? Because we are on the tail end of a time of unprecedented wine industry growth in Washington state. With the increase in boutique wineries came an interest in obtaining very limited bottlings of their most desirable wines. With the downturn in the economy and other factors limiting sales, more and more small wineries turned to direct sales (via tasting rooms and wine clubs) to generate profits. And so there were more and more wine clubs to choose from, and competition grew tougher.

Inventories stacked up. Prices dropped. Wine clubs and online retailers with flash sales have put out a non-stop barrage of “amazing” offers. All of this is going to end, and soon. The tsunami of juice is receding. The current vintage will be short, as was last year’s. But at the moment, the impact of the dismal economy on discretionary spending is still very much apparent. People are struggling to maintain their places on even the most desirable mailing lists.

I had a call this week from a friend who could no longer take his full allocation of a certain amphibian-based winery and wanted to know if I had an interest in purchasing a case or two. The point here is – take another shot at any winery with a closed mailing list. You might score. If you are on a list, ask for a better allocation. You might get it. And if you think that you have plenty of time to get on a not-yet-closed list, think again. I do believe that opportunity knocks but once.

An offer crossed my in-box this morning that bears special mention. I quote:

“Walla Walla Vintners announced this week that after 15 years they have decided to launch their first wine club. Winery founders Myles Anderson and Gordy Venneri said they had shied away from a wine club in the past, concerned it would seem like a marketing ploy to push wine sales. ‘It was our customers who got us to change our minds,’ said Venneri. ‘We were constantly being asked if we had a wine club and also what were our personal favorite wines.’

“This club is a response to those requests. It will be called the Walla Walla Vintners Select Wine Club. It will differ from clubs that only send out new releases. Every shipment will be a mix of old and new wines, carefully selected that are currently drinking especially well. The winery’s three winemakers (Anderson, Venneri and William vonMetzger) will choose the wines and provide notes on each one. Members will also receive some of the winery’s very limited library wines. In order to assure club members receive the best wines membership is being limited to the first 150 people who join.”

I have been privileged to attend WWV’s annual varietal retrospective tastings for the past few years, and I can assure you that they have one of the very finest wine libraries in Walla Walla, if not the state. The opportunity to taste perfectly aged wines directly from the winery cellars is not to be missed. And though I have not seen actual pricing, I have often noted that the winery’s offerings are always among this state’s best values in terms of QPR.

For full details (and to sign up) you may visit the Walla Walla Vintners Select Wine Club website. In addition to library wines, club members will receive first offerings of new releases (including the upcoming estate wines) and invitations to member-only events.

I have full confidence that the 150 members of this new club will count themselves among the luckiest wine enthusiasts in the state.


Woody said...

I saw this come through and joined the list INSTANTLY!!! cant wait! I love Gordy and Miles wine!!!

PaulG said...

Further details on timing and pricing have just come to my attention. Again I quote: "Members can select to receive 6 or 12 bottles twice a year (in the fall and spring when temperatures are best for shipping). Shipping will be free for members and they will have first offering of all upcoming releases, including the first-ever Walla Walla Vintners Estate wines. Club members will occasionally be offered special prices on select wines and be invited to exclusive, club member-only events. Depending on the wines selected, we anticipate the cost per shipment for the 6-bottle selection will range from $170 to $290 and the 12-bottle selection from $340 to $580, not including taxes. We will not charge your credit card until we ship your wine. To sign up for our first shipment in April 2012 go to our website or call the winery. Members may change or cancel their membership at anytime."

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