Yesterday, I was interviewed on what we call custom clubs or user choice clubs. Basically, the style of the Fidelitas Wine Club, where we are encouraging our members to select the wines that will go into their allocations. Once I got off the call, I sat back and thought about why this is such a unique model and how it truly does benefit our members.
Touting the benefits of custom clubs is nothing new on this blog. We wrote about it just last November and again back in 2018 when we brought our third Club with the most members over to this Club style. My apologies if it is getting redundant. We are JUST THAT EXCITED about giving our members the option to select their own allocations. Top reasons we love selling wine via Custom Club:
Our members get what they want.
We used to have members we would hand-customize their shipments because they didn’t want the Merlot (which is crazy because Charlie’s Merlots are out of this world) or even Cabernet (which might be even crazier). We’ll always release a variety of wines that are available to customize with so members can still get a variety, but only with the wines they really like.
The selections go beyond just varietals, though. I recently realized that this gives people the power to buy wines how they want to drink them. If you like to drink your wines sooner than later, and love a sampling of different things, grab one bottle of each new release. If you have an awesome cellar, go all in on your favorite one for your allocation and then round up to a case with a few more plus some daily drinkers for variety. Charlie and I both love to check in with one wine year after year just to see how it’s maturing in the bottle.
We also realize that what a lot of people want is to not make any choices at all, and we can totally do that. You know you like the wines, and we are more than happy to build an allocation for you.
We can design wines with the Club in mind.
This is one of my favorite things about Fidelitas. Many wineries may be scared of selling via Custom Club because it doesn’t fit with the wines that they are already making. However, we are making wines that we know our members are going to love, no matter the amount of cases produced, and allow these small lots to be sold via Club allocations because it is first come, first served. Once those 48 cases of Clone 191 are gone, they are gone but the members who really wanted them made sure to get them!
I’ve talked about this many times over the years. Charlie, like pretty much any winemaker I’ve ever met, is a sort of mad scientist. And he looooves making wines. Like, wants to make little tiny lots of everything and has an amazing knack for knowing what people are going to want in three years. This is how we end up with 48, 96, 142, 244 case lots. Allowing members to put these tiny production wines in their Club allocations guarantees that Charlie gets to make those amazing wines and members don’t necessarily have to buy above and beyond their allocation to enjoy them (although, as stated above, you should get more because once they are gone, they’re gone).
Further, “Club-exclusive” is a common thing to see at wineries. However, I realized that it is so much more than that at Fidelitas. One of part of my job is to work with Charlie and design how our releases will look up to 3 years in advance. Already, we are talking about which wines we want to make from grapes that will be harvested this upcoming fall. That means, we are having discussions about how much fruit to buy 5 months from now to make a wine that won’t be released until 3 years from now. We are looking at spreadsheets, and forecasts, and weather patterns, just to determine what wines we’ll make for just our Club members. This isn’t an after the fact decision. The wines available in your Club selections are truly chosen by Charlie 3+ years before you will take it home. Over the course of those 3 years, Charlie is ensuring that wine in your allocation is “one of the best we’ve ever made” (one of our favorite Charlie-isms).
Custom Clubs allow us to interact with our members in all new ways.
This is kind of a unique topic that I’ve been exploring. However, in 2019 we sold 75% of all wine to members and roughly 14 products never made it beyond the Club to even the tasting rooms. So – if a wine isn’t being poured in the tasting room, how do we know if people will like it?
Running Custom clubs for a few years now means that our team has really gotten to know our Club: their likes and dislikes, and how much they are wanting to take in each offering. Skye spends hours a day on the phone chatting with members to hear how past vintages are tasting now and helping them to select the wines that they’ll be taking home. In the tasting rooms, Team Fidelitas is sitting down with members to chat through each release to ensure that members are securing the want, and then diligently getting those orders fulfilled and sent home weeks later. It’s a little different than the traditional tasting room model, but gives our members a much more personal experience.
I can’t wait to release these new wines and will be spending next week on Red Mountain making sure that the exact right selections are making their way to their forever home. Enjoy them once they arrive!