How Some Wine Clubs Are Rated Best

Whenever someone reviews the best places to buy wines online, the focus is slanted toward subscription box types. Though my preference is for e-commerce sites that aren’t pushing memberships, they are a major part of this fascinating online world. 

And one name that seems to be at the top of almost every review published is  Formerly known as Club W, it is as an e-commerce website  founded in 2012 by Xander Oxman and Geoff McFarlane because of “a shared belief that wine should be more accessible: simpler to get and easier to enjoy. “ 

Bravo, I’m all for that!

They joined forces with winemaker and sommelier Brian Smith to build a personalized wine club that has quickly grown into Winc—”a California-based winery offering an online membership experience.” 

A winery? That’s unusual.

It started out as a wine of the month club and then took off. I’ve read in Forbes they now sell around 200,000 cases a year. 

They claim their wines are featured at select retailers and restaurants nationwide.

Unable to verify this on  but must be true.

Smith has a license to make wines and though I didn’t know you needed one, let’s go with the fact he has made wines at real wineries and some winc wines are bottled at a licensed winemaking premise in California.

Many of winc’s California wines are from the Central Coast, primarily Santa Barbara and Paso Robles.

Great: these are two of  my favorite regions.

Moving on. “The 150 unique wines we bottle each year range from simple blends to obscure, single vineyard fringe projects that span the globe. We feel an obligation to showcase the best that every region, varietal and style has to offer, at the best value possible.”

 “Best” is certainly an admirable goal in just about every endeavor. 

Shipments are once a month. “If you want to skip a month, it’s no problem.”

Initial wine shipments are based on a palate preference test which has such deep questions as how strong do you like your coffee and how do you feel about salt?  

Winc subscriptions begin at $39 a month for three bottles with flat $9 shipping. But Winc offers free shipping on four or more bottles.

Basic Winc bottles start at $13. There are two subscription levels, Featured and Select. At the Featured level, Winc lists wines under $20. At the Select level, Winc offers bottles between $15 and $55.

Well, so far I’ve stuck with the stated positions found on winc’s website. But then at the bottom of the home page, I noticed this:

 ‘Are you an affiliate looking to run the Winc Affiliate Program? Join now!

This got my attention and eventually helped me understand one reason why winc is so highly rated in reviews of subscription type wine clubs. A reviewer, aka an affiliate, any writer or blogger can enjoy the following perks: 

  • Earn up to $18 commission for every new subscription
  • 10% revenue share on gift card, gift box, and shop purchases
  • Variety of updated creative
  • Special coupons and seasonal promotional opportunities
  • Performance and bonus incentives for our partners
  • Opportunity to try Winc on the house!
  • Dedicated Account Management team

In other words,  positive reviews can lead to money, bonuses, and free wine. That might explain the gushy, wet your pants review of winc in Forbes.

A few influencers or reviewers, sorry, affiliates, will fess up in the beginning, as did this one:

“This article includes affiliate links. That means we will be compensated if this Winc review convinces you it is the right wine club for you.”

Not being an affiliate, I can say that $18 for an average quality Rose offered by winc is not much of a deal. Going over the list of wines. I find the prices to be a little steep for what you get.

 A Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for $31.99, and a Mendocino Carignane also for $31.99 are hardly deals. $47.99 for Santa Rita Syrah is really pushing it.

And with just a little effort, you can certainly find  better prices on Santa Barbara Syrah. That is if you are willing to make an effort.

But other high priced wines like a Grenache from El Dorado are not the usual suspects found on other sites. 

Winc likes to give their wines fancy, made up names like Endgame and Baseline in order to convey exclusivity.  But then again, some are becoming brands like the QTY for Pinot and Grenache. But only available from winc.

One that caught my eye is the 2018 Languedoc Red is named “Cherries & Rainbows” and sells for $22.09. Winc explains it is made by Robert Eden, a winemaker in Minervois I just happen to have met several years ago in Minervois. 

Here’s a problem: a Chateau Maris Minervois from Eden’s own winery is selling on for $15.99. Cheaper, authentic, and probably a better wine. But that Eden is part of the winc program is a good thing.

The higher priced wines do come with some interesting background which is better than the nutty hype and point scores splashed all over other sites.

Against its competition like firstleaf, naked wines, and tastingroom, it is on a par with nakedwines. 

Winc’s choices are a little more unusual, more exciting but its prices are no special deals.

And though it should be clear: I am not an affiliate!!