Wine Clubs

(l to r) Brian, Bruce and Pam Boring, Jay

So, what exactly is a wine club?  Well, in the case of the California Wine Club, it’s a matter of culling through California wineries to find the best wines at the best prices on the behalf of their membership. 

With 16 years in the business, Bruce and Pam Boring must be doing something right.  Join us as we take an inside look at what a wine club is and is not, and see if there is something there for you.

For More Information:

– California Wine Club:

Sponsor: The Beaches of South Walton:

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Show #115
(35:46 min 16 MB)

15 Responses to “Wine Clubs”

  1. 1 Chad Oct 24th, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    >> Let us know any thoughts you have on this topic (Brian)

    Where was the discussion? This was a product pitch. You guys seemed to have the same feeling and I appreciate the efforts to herd the interview back to something that could be confused as discourse. But still… I hope you got paid for the pitch!

    Bruce’s assertion that the wines they choose match a sophisticated pallete because they are “bone dry” is shallow at best. Just because someone has a preference for jammy fruit bombs doesn’t imply that their pallete is crude. It means that they like jammy fruit bombs. I like Tokay. Guess I’m not a good fit for their service.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 24th, 2006 at 2:47 pm


    I am sorry you feel that we let you down, there are tons of wine clubs out there, we researched them all and wanted to talk to someone we felt who was doing it well.

    I don’t view it as an informercial becuase I felt we asked them some tough questions. I talked about the bad experiences I had with wine clubs in the past and they seemed to have good answers.

    Hey, wine clubs are not for me, I don’t use or need their service, but many do. I did not get paid to interview them, I brought up most of the issues I would have if I was to consider joining one.

    If there are some other questions you would liked answered, post them here. I am sure they will answer them directly.

    Brian Clark

  3. 3 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 24th, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Chad. We do try to cover a wide variety of wine-related subjects – everything from grape to gulp, as it were. Unlike growing grapes or making wine, the subject of wine clubs is inherently more service-oriented, rather than product-oriented. And, I think in that context we are bound to interview people who own their own businesses. I also think, in that regard, it’s fairly natural for these business owners to get excited about what they do or what they sell. Admittedly, this can come across as “pitching” their product – even to us.

    Wine Clubs are a viable piece of the wine sales market, and we wanted to have a closer look. But, we’re not here to do info-mercials, and we make that clear to our guests beforehand. However, enthusiasm being what it is, sometimes the train comes off the track, and when it does, we try to get the conversation back on track as quickly as possible.

    We also try not to get into debates about someone’s subjective impressions of a wine, or what kind of wine is better than another (though we’re not always successful here). So, if our guests want to describe what they like in a bottle of wine, who are we to argue with them. After all, there’s plenty of wine out there for everyone.


  4. 4 Chad Oct 24th, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the feedback on the feedback, guys. I really do appreciate the responses, just as I’m sure you appreciate the constructive criticism. I’ve been listening for a long time and plan to listen for a long time into the future. The experience is made even better with a feedback loop into the program.

    I like Brian’s suggestion. Here’s my questions for Bruce and Pam:

    You mentioned that some majority of your subscribers are transient. So do you have any plans to evolve your wine club into a wine community? How do you take a club to the next level? Any thoughts about interactivity between club members?

    Any plans for a program that focuses on ‘sweet’ wines?

    You assert that you can’t get a bad wine through your service. Because every wine is personally selected through you guys. Frankly, I find this illogical. Can’t we disagree on what is a good wine and what is a ‘bad’ wine? Do you think you might be ostracizing a market of potential subscribers simply because they have different tastes than you do?

    To Eric’s point, “So, if our guests want to describe what they like in a bottle of wine, who are we to argue with them.” Clearly you shouldn’t. Unless your guests assert that their preferences are somehow more legitimate than anothers. Then you should argue, in my humble opinion.

    Thanks for thoughts, guys.

  5. 5 Steve Oct 25th, 2006 at 11:34 am


    How do I order some Pink wine for the cause? I didn’t see it on your web site or on GR.

    Can I buy some without joining a club?

    Thank you!

  6. 6 John T Oct 28th, 2006 at 8:27 am

    While I did get the impression the guests were trying to turn it into a commercial of sorts, it helped to remember that GR’s audience might consist of more than just really serious winegeeks – perhaps there are some neophytes in the audience looking for that type of guidance.
    Just don’t make a habit of it, okay. ; )

    Jay, you actually seemed kind of annoyed at times with your guest’s answers….

    Put on a happy face, okay?

  7. 7 GrapeRadio Bunch Oct 28th, 2006 at 10:17 am

    Thanks John. It is also important to remember that there are more neophytes than wine geeks, by a HUGE margin.

    Where is the line between infomercial and legitimate content? The line is not always easy to see. I know what our mindset is, but its not always easy to see when you are in the chair with a microphone in front of you.

    In my mind, wine clubs are a good tool for the beginner. I do not know how we could have made this show in a way that did not seem too commercial.

    BTW, they left a few bottles of wine for us to try, and so far, I liked them.

    John, you have been around me enough times to know that I am not the type that gets annoyed without being provoked.

    How is this? 🙂

  8. 8 Bruce Oct 30th, 2006 at 11:52 am

    I orginally thought when we started CWC that most of our customers would be novices or people who just wanted to learn about wine. But, the fact is that 85% of our 200,000 yearly shipments go to very experienced wine drinkers…upper level excutives and business owners who have no time to chase down & trust CWC to help them make selections. These are people who drink wine everyday and really know what they like.


  9. 9 Bruce Oct 30th, 2006 at 11:55 am

    Hey Steve…we will not be featuring Peggy’s wine until next year….but I will get a phone number for you so you can contact them directly. This whole Breast Cancer thing has been a very moving experience for us…and a very worthy cause.


  10. 10 Bruce Oct 30th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Steve…here is the Peggy Fleming’s winery phone number…(408) 358-4949. The “Victories” white Zin is quite good…very dry with overtones of Strawberries.


  11. 11 Gene Oct 31st, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    My wife and I listened to your CA Wine Club podcast last week and enjoyed it. Commerical or not, it was very informative and caught our interest. We’ve been members of Story Book Mountain’s wine club for over a year and have been very happy with the wines that they selected. However, we have been generally suspicious of the open clubs where we don’t know what’s coming next.

    I immediately checked your web site that evening but got a little confused by the prices. I know we heard $33 per month which, although you never explicitly said it, appeared to cover two bottles of wine. However your site shows $44.95 per month for two bottles. The three for two offer doesn’t quite make the math work out either. How about a little decanting here to make everything clearer?

    Are shipping fees included in your price? We typically pay $2 to $3 per bottle (on a case) to receive shipments here on the east coast.

    One last comment. We had no idea that Peggy Fleming has been making wines! We’ve been a serious skating family for 30 years and I even have her autograph somewhere. Thanks for the lead.

  12. 12 Steve Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:36 am

    I understand the Borings enthusiasm and it was a bit like a pitch on occasion. I would have liked to hear less about their specific wine club and more about the wine club industry in general. For example, does a wine club have some influence on the wine makers/growers? What are the economics of a wine club from your point of view? Or where the wine club industry is going in general?

    I am in a wine club myself (not CWC, sorry Bruce…) and I found it interesting to hear the story from the other side. I like the idea that there is someone else out there looking for interesting wines that I can’t find locally in Hawaii. The club has also introduced me to areas that I would never have tried on my own, and while I haven’t fallen in love with everything, it has broadened my experience.

    BTW, the beaches of Hawaii are pretty good too. 🙂

  13. 13 Rick Vamos Nov 7th, 2006 at 9:47 am

    I loved this show. I’ve seen their club advertised, and actually have given as a gift on one or two occassions, but it was great to hear from the actual people. While it certainly was somewhat of a product pitch, it was a very valuable show.

  14. 14 Natalie Nov 20th, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    My husband and I enjoyed the show. We listen to
    grape Radio in the car on our many Road Trips! It is nice to hear and learn about different topics on wine, winemaking and wine marketing. We live in PA so our “Wine Club” choices are very limited. We did belong to one for a while and it was like Christmas each month when that package arrived. Thank you for providing the opportunity to enjoy so many great podcasts! It is easy to see why you were voted the best. Please keep up the good work. Road trips would not be the same without you.

  15. 15 Mark M. Jan 14th, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I am a new listener and this was one of the first episodes i downloaded and definitely one of my all time favs.

    However certain things left me cranky. 1-I work full time at a small, indecent wine shop in New York City. Of course, I am learning more and more about wine, but I do not and can not consider myself a beginner or a newbie. I belong to a wine club. Indeed after listening to this episode and doing some research I switched from my current club to CWC. Why would someone who works at a wine shop, join a club like this? because you get to try and experience wines that frankly are just not going to be even the most well-stocked stores and shops. To that end this episode would have been FAR more helpful if the questions focused more on tough questions and less on the “inexperience” of someone who might join a club.

    2-Similarly, I was shocked that you allowed the quests to assert that sweeter palates are less refined or lesser than drier ones. There are superior and complex wines at all levels of sweetness and lack thereof, just like there are inferior and sub par wines at all levels of sweetness and lack thereof. And you are well aware of this. so there is no need to insult those who dont share your tastes or have a sweet tooth (or palate).

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