Our preliminary review of the Firstleaf Wine Club
Please note: We haven’t tried any wine from Firstleaf yet.
An overview of the wine club
Summary: Firstleaf is a six-bottle monthly wine subscription with an introductory offer of $19.95 for three bottles. Regular six-bottle shipments are $79 + $9.95 shipping.
What we like: We're always big fans of try-before-you-buy, so we support their effort to introduce you to their wines at just $15 + $4.95 for shipping. A reminder, when you accept this offer you are enrolling in an automatic wine delivery service and your credit will continue to be charged the full monthly cost until you cancel.
Could be better: They're not truthful about some of their claims. Most notably they actively claim they are the first and only wine club customized to you. Both of these statements are patently false. WINC Wine Club, TastingRoom.com, Bright Cellars Wine Club, and inClub by invino are all as customized or even more customized than Firstleaf. All of these wine clubs were allowing totally custom shipments before Firstleaf was launched in February, 2016. We really wish they'd stop making false claims — it damages their credibility.
Deals & Offers from Firstleaf Wine Club
We will review Firstleaf wine club in our regular, in-depth way in the next few months, but in the mean time, here is a link to their introductory offer of 3 wines for $5 each plus $4.95 shipping and handling.
The wines offered change every week (and probably change based on how you answer the wine preferences quiz you fill out before you order). You can choose between mixed red and white wine, red wine only, or white wine only. Given the different offers we see in our email inbox each week, we're guessing they haven't selected their best three wines to send out in the introductory offer, but rather are drawing from their regular pool of wines. This is a better predictor of whether or not you'll like the wine subscription.
Some quick background on the company
There is a company called Global Wine Cellars which was the private-label fulfillment partner for several newspaper and magazine wine clubs (and a couple of fancy restaurants, too). Global Wine Cellars isn’t doing wine clubs anymore, so their partners all had to find a new way to capitalize on their wine-loving audiences.
Enter Firstleaf, a wine club brand created by Time Inc. in partnership with a wine technology company (Penrose Hill) to leverage the trust their subscribers have in their brands directly into wine sales. Their marketing also talks about their service being “a new way to buy your favorite wine” but we think that’s misleading, there isn’t anything new happening here. Most of the press they get is from their 26 partners/subsidiaries and it feels advertorial even though it’s not labeled as such.
That said, some very big names in the wine club industry have attached themselves to this well-funded wine tech company: the founder of Lot18, a former CEO of Direct Wines (Laithwaites, WSJwine, Virgin Wines, etc.), and Gary Vaynerchuk (WineLibrary.com and Cinderella Wines).