Last Updated: 5/28/2013
Why we recommend Vinesse Wine Clubs
Note: A good portion of the Vinesse wine club customer base signs up for the wine club,
specifically the American Cellars Wine Club,
because they are offered bonus airline or hotel miles by joining the wine club. If this is you and you’re checking out the
wine club before you sign... good for you for doing due diligence before you sign up for something!
For everyone else reading this review these “miles members” frequently join this club just for bonus miles and
haven’t given much thought to what a wine club is or what they should expect from it. We understand that
these customers might feel taken advantage of, but we hardly blame that on Vinesse, we feel much of that
responsibility belongs the airlines and hotels. They partner with Vinesse in order to create a new profit
center for themselves, and they do this by leveraging their existing customer relationships.
If you’ve been reading Rip-Off Report and came to WineClubReviews to learn more about Vinesse wine clubs,
here is a less exhuberantly irritated point of view regarding some of the complaints...
Consumers complained about the quality of the wine.
Quite honestly, we’re baffled by this. At least we were. After months of tasting shipments from
the American Cellars Wine Club shipments, we can safely say the quality is probably not what any experienced wine drinker
would want. Sadly, this reputation sometimes gets applied to all of the Vinesse wine clubs, but happily, many of their wine
clubs are excellent (see below).
We know wine taste is subjective and don’t expect to like all of the wine we drink. Likewise we don’t expect you to
like all of the wine you receive from any wine club out there. This subjectivity is why our wine club ratings focus on
quality and value instead of taste.
Consumers complained about ongoing charges/shipments and didn’t know they were coming.
This one is really hard for us to swallow (seriously). How do you sign up for a wine club and not know you’re
going to get charged for future wine shipments that will be delivered to you? Enough said.
Consumers who complained about irregular shipment schedules
Well, now here’s an interesting topic. While a few Vinesse customers have been vocal about this issue, it’s
actually a logistics problem common to most wine clubs.
Here is an explanation of how you might reasonably
get charged for your second shipment within a day or two of receiving your first shipment and before you have
a chance to back out of that second shipment (common mostly to people who just want their airline miles and
then get out of the program).
Vinesse is doing all they can to address this problem. The information that goes out in the confirmation email after you
sign up for the club contains detailed information about your shipping schedule and when your credit card
will be charged.
Most wine clubs ship out their regular wine club shipments on a particular day of the month. If you sign up
say 14 days or less before ship date, you get the next “regular” shipment and everything turns out well.
If you sign up more than say 14 days before that ship date, you’ll get an initial shipment, and then get
added into the “regular” shipment schedule.
Assume the first shipment goes out within 2 days of placing the order. Now, let’s say you live somewhere
where state regulatory issues require a holding period of 7-10 days before you can receive the wine. There’s
only 2 days left until the next shipment is scheduled to go out, so you’ve probably already been charged...
it’s not a scam, it’s just an unfortunate logistical situation. Not surprisingly, this timing problem is a
big deal to Vinesse and they are actively working to reduce these types of issues.
Consumers who complained about the mysterious annual fee and subsequent handling of
Before you read the rest of this answer, please note that NONE of the wine clubs you purchase from Vinesse
through WineClubReviews.net carry an annual fee.
Alright, we acknowledge this situation is a little sketchy, but we don’t think it qualifies as a scam, as
some past customers have declared. We don’t fully blame Vinesse for the problem, but they definitely could be
more aggressive in finding a better way to handle it. This is a combination of regulatory issues, technical
issues, and customers not reading the Terms & Conditions. Vinesse can’t do anything about the first and third
reasons, but they are falling short in handling the second one.
Regulatory issues - Vinesse is very rigid about their compliance with California state regulations (for good reason).
The California ABC commission prohibits retailers with an alcohol license form giving away free items with the
purchase of alcohol. Many years ago, in order to do an end-run around this, they decided to charge an annual fee
and then provide a voucher for an equal amount of money that you could spend on wine. Seems like a fair way to
treat customers and not be in violation of the free item rule.
Technical issues - This is where Vinesse dropped the ball and still hasn’t quite picked it up (but they are
thinking about it). You can’t use the voucher to pay for your wine club membership online, you’d have to call
customer service. You can use your voucher to pay for additional wine you buy at their online store or via
customer service. A little weak in this day and age, we agree... but you CAN redeem the voucher, thereby nullifying
your annual fee and allowing you to receive free goods from Vinesse.
Customer issues - We HIGHLY encourage anyone signing up for any type of continuity program (whether it’s a health
club membership, a wine club subscription, or a magazine subscription) to read the fine print. It’s there for your
protection and it’s a good idea. If these customers had read the Terms & Conditions when they enrolled, they would
have seen the annual fee and could have elected not to subscribe. Additionally, a printed letter was mailed to each
subscriber (with the voucher in it) explaining the need for the annual fee and the voucher... so the moral of this
story is please, read your mail when it’s from someone who you have a financial relationship with!
And by now (if you’re still reading) you’re probably thinking, “Well you don’t work for Vinesse, but they probably
pay you to say correct these complaints.” And you’d be right, BUT:
We get paid by a lot of wine clubs and don’t have to say nice things about them (they don’t pay us to say nice things,
they pay us to deliver new customers).
We don’t have to include wine clubs on our site just because they’re willing to pay us. We have existing
financial relationships with a couple of wine clubs that we just don’t think it’s worth talking about.
COULD we get paid if we list them on the site? Maybe...
It’s not what motivates us here at WineClubReviews... our goal is to help connect wine drinkers with
the right wine club for themselves or to give as a gift... not just our favorite wine clubs
or the ones that pay us the most because that’s slimy and/or self-serving (we do tend to favor wine clubs
where a high percentage of visitors we refer make a purchase because that seems to mean the wine club
was the right wine club for those visitors).