Random Musings

Manage Your Mailing Lists – Don’t Let Them Manage You

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If you’re new to the hobby of wine collecting, at some point you’ve probably found yourself signing up for every prominent mailing list available to you. That may be fine for a while, but how do you proceed when the offers start flooding your inbox?

I’ve been buying off mailings list for almost 20 years now (I previously blogged about this in Confessions of a Mailing List Addict), an over the years I’ve gained a little insight into how mailings lists work and how, as a consumer, I can best use them to my advantage. Here are some best practices that might be helpful as you find yourself purchasing from more and more wines via  mailing lists.

  • You don’t need to buy your full allocation. Some wineries will send you a mailer containing a dozen different wines and you might be offered upwards of several cases. Pick and choose what you want. Buy what makes sense. I rarely max out my full allocation from any winery. I would rather place a small order with a number of wineries than find myself with a cellar full of wines from just a few producers.
  • Some wineries will let you skip an allocation. Quilceda Creek does this, in fact they state so in their mailer. If for some reason you can’t purchase, just let the winery know and tell them you hope to keep receiving their mailer. Not many wineries will walk away from your future business.
  • What you buy might become your allocation. Wineries like Kosta Browne and Cayuse use your current purchase to determine your following years allocation. In this case if you don’t buy what you were offered you can expect to get offered less the following year.
  • Look for opportunities to share allocations. If you are still not receiving an allocation from a winery like Carlisle, check out the Commerce Corner of Wineberserkers or the Buying and Selling forum on Wine Spectator. There is always someone willing to share their allocation.
  • Focus on wineries with a variety of wines at fair prices. The latest trophy wine is fun to look at in your cellar. That said, I will always take two cases of Bedrock over a bottle of Harlan given the choice
  • Save some money to buy wines that are not available via mailing lists. The last thing you want is a cellar comprised solely of mailing list wines. Make sure you allocate some of your budget to buy wines from favorite wine regions around the world. For me, it’s primarily Bordeaux and Chateauneuf du Pape.

What other tips would you add to this list?

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5 thoughts on “Manage Your Mailing Lists – Don’t Let Them Manage You

  1. I agree with many of your items. I have found, most wineries’, if you contact them will let you pass on an allocation. One of my biggest complaints, is quantities offered. If you are offering 5wines, why is everything in 3 packs. Also, I have dropped off some because they went from 3 packs to 6 bottles. That’s when Iam out, and will look for the wine in a store.

  2. To the multi-bottle point, I am surprised more wineries do not sell a “sampler” horizontal pack. Even if it is pre-determined with no substitutes, I might be inclined to buy. Following a positive experience tasting or at a restaurant, I have placed my name on mailing lists, and then when I get on three years later and have had no idea which bottles fit my current palate, other than word of mouth.

  3. Good topic Tom. It is definitely easy to go sign-up crazy with all the lists that are now available… I have found that a call or email to the wineries that require minimum purchases will result in them accepting an order lower than their minimum.

    I think your last point is a good one to keep in mind, as shipping charges can add up quickly! Although one may be able to fetch a unique/limited wine off a mailing list that a good wine shop may not be able to acquire, there are some that I have a tough time justifying a purchase from. This is particularly true when it’s easy to acquire the wine locally (and occasionally at a discount). For the locally produced (Washington) wines that are easy to find (e.g. Betz), purchasing from the list and having access to the tasting events is a nice perk!

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