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Group Wine Buys and Sharing Allocations


dcfoodie
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I'm on a couple car boards, and they always have group buys for expensive car parts where like 20 people get in and buy a high performance muffler or new rims for their car and they get a discount because they're buying in bulk.

Anyway, has anyone brought up the idea of doing that for wine? I know that I normally get a discount for buying wine by the case, but if we organized group buys on this board with groups of of like 20 people or more buying a specific wine would a wine store be willing to give us a bigger discount than the nornal by-the-case discount?

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I'm on a couple car boards, and they always have group buys for expensive car parts where like 20 people get in and buy a high performance muffler or new rims for their car and they get a discount because they're buying in bulk.

Anyway, has anyone brought up the idea of doing that for wine? I know that I normally get a discount for buying wine by the case, but if we organized group buys on this board with groups of of like 20 people or more buying a specific wine would a wine store be willing to give us a bigger discount than the nornal by-the-case discount?

Ask Joe Riley at Ace Beverage. He will tell you what kind of deals he can offer.
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Ideally they are organized here almost the same way that the events are. People could reply in and say yes I want in. Paypal is generally the best payment method. Then all payment is collected in advance and it's just a matter of picking up the product or for people not in the immediate area, shipping.

Perhaps there are legal implications...

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Thank you so much for asking this question. I think this is a fabulous idea, especially for when stores are offering futures for the more expensive wines--if we can get 3 or 4 people to go in on a case then we end up with 2 to 4 wines each (some cases are actually only 6 bottles for the more rare offerings).

I don't know how we should go about organizing this but I'd be willing to help.

Jennifer L.

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The way the group buys work on the other sites is that the deal is offered by the dealer in increments or people, let's say increments of 5 or 10, and the more people we get in the group buy, the bigger the discount. It usually takes a lot of recruiting on the part of the people that get in early to get the price down.

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The way the group buys work on the other sites is that the deal is offered by the dealer in increments or people, let's say increments of 5 or 10, and the more people we get in the group buy, the bigger the discount. It usually takes a lot of recruiting on the part of the people that get in early to get the price down.

Well since you started this thing pick a decent wine and lets get a deal going.

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OK. I choose that Hartenberg Shiraz we had at the fundraiser the other night (Jake, did we have the 2001 or 2003?). Any takers??

Let's get a price per bottle - price for 1 bottle, 6 bottles, 12 bottles etc...or whatever increments and that way we'll know when we've hit a price point. I normally buy cases and might be tempted to this time as well depending on the price.
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OK. I choose that Hartenberg Shiraz we had at the fundraiser the other night (Jake, did we have the 2001 or 2003?). Any takers??

According to the notes we had the 2001. Here is some info for those that did not taste it. Click.

I think he said that it retails for around $30/btl.

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TJ,

I highly recommend working with Joe if you are looking for something special. I had commented on how much I liked the O/S that we had a while back and Joe managed to get me some at an excellent price. Couldn't ask for better service or knowledge. Excellent source if your others don't have what you want.

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I may be interested in the Hartenburg Shiraz depending on price, and probably only 1 bottle, since I haven't tasted it. Definitely interested in the Behrens and Hitchcock Cab. Just checked Macarthur's website (Addy Bassin's) and they don't seem to carry any Behrens and Hithcock.

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Interesting thread. With all due respect to those in the industry who post on this board the best prices in the United States are generally not available in D. C. Even Calvert Woodley, MacArthur, Magruder's and others are not as competitive as some of the New Jersey, New York and California stores these days. The only D. C. store that I've found to compete with internet prices is Paul's and they actually do a very good job of this. But their selection is limited. On a wine that is about $15 or more, factoring in shipping, you can still do better to buy out of town off of the internet. Most places have SIX BOTTLE minimums-it is not necessary to buy a case. Or to have to pool money to buy three, four, six cases or more to get a 15 or 20% discount. You CAN GET 30% off for six bottles!!! Try these websites: http://www.winezap.com/ and punch in the wine you are interested in. There are several thousand stores in the U. S. that subscribe and list their prices. Also, www.wine-searcher.com is similar but includes stores outside the U. S. I have bought from Australia, Italy and Austria and had wine shipped to me here. All much less expensive than any local store. You should not have any hesitation in doing this. Just because you are buying from, say, Sydney is no reason to feel any less secure than buying local. If it is a large, reputable store in Sydney you should not have a problem. (You'd be surprised how many people around the country are buying offshore and having wine shipped here!!!) For what may be the highest volume internet store consider the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ which is a 60,000 square foot store (I've been to it) and generally gives 30% (Yes, I said THIRTY per cent) off on everything.

All of my suggestions are ONLY if you know what you want. If you are tasting, want suggestions, want personal service then please go to the local stores, in particular those who post on here. But if you are serious and know exactly what you want with the only issue price and having it safely shipped quickyl to you then read the first paragraph.

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Interesting thread.  With all due respect to those in the industry who post on this board the best prices in the United States are generally not available in D. C.  Even Calvert Woodley, MacArthur, Magruder's and others are not as competitive as some of the New Jersey, New York and California stores these days.  The only D. C. store that I've found to compete with internet prices is Paul's and they actually do a very good job of this.  But their selection is limited. 

Correct. And, in fact, most NY stores can't even compare with NJ, which has the lowest retail price I've seen in the Northeast. Nevertheless, it's all moot. Going back to what Barbara said, DR members just need to hop in the car and head over to Ace Beverage and talk to Joe Riley. Tell him what you like. Red. White. Rose. Sparking. Flavor. Body. Hemisphere. Region. Put together a mix and match case. I'm telling you. Odds are mighty good that Joe will be your go-to wine man.

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For what may be the highest volume internet store consider the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ which is a 60,000 square foot store (I've been to it) and generally gives 30% (Yes, I said THIRTY per cent) off on everything.

Community group purchasing might include internet ordering by those most geographically blessed among us.

The Wine Library site will be in today's WSJ wine column - interestingly it's also enthusiastic about web wine shopping. The full article includes an additional eight specialty web sites. Has anyone ordered from sites other than Wine Library?

TASTINGS By DOROTHY J. GAITER AND JOHN BRECHER

A Fine Year For Web Wine

Following major legal changes, online wine sales are flourishing. Our columnists on pitfalls, ordering strategies and their favorite sites.

April 28, 2006

<SNIP>

Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Interesting thread.  With all due respect to those in the industry who post on this board the best prices in the United States are generally not available in D. C.  Even Calvert Woodley, MacArthur, Magruder's and others are not as competitive as some of the New Jersey, New York and California stores these days.  The only D. C. store that I've found to compete with internet prices is Paul's and they actually do a very good job of this.  But their selection is limited.  On a wine that is about $15 or more, factoring in shipping, you can still do better to buy out of town off of the internet.  Most places have SIX BOTTLE minimums-it is not necessary to buy a case.  Or to have to pool money to buy three, four, six cases or more to get a 15 or 20% discount.  You CAN GET 30% off for six bottles!!!  Try these websites:  http://www.winezap.com/ and punch in the wine you are interested in.  There are several thousand stores in the U. S. that subscribe and list their prices.  Also, www.wine-searcher.com is similar but includes stores outside the U. S.  I have bought from Australia, Italy and Austria and had wine shipped to me here.  All much less expensive than any local store.  You should not have any hesitation in doing this.  Just because you are buying from, say, Sydney is no reason to feel any less secure than buying local.  If it is a large, reputable store in Sydney you should not have a problem.  (You'd be surprised how many people around the country are buying offshore and having wine shipped here!!!)  For what may be the highest volume internet store consider the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ which is a 60,000 square foot store (I've been to it) and generally gives 30% (Yes, I said THIRTY per cent) off on everything.

All of my suggestions are ONLY if you know what you want.  If you are tasting, want suggestions, want personal service then please go to the local stores, in particular those who post on here.  But if you are serious and know exactly what you want with the only issue price and having it safely shipped quickyl to you then read the first paragraph.

But remember, there is a limit on the amount of wine that it is legal to ship into DC. While it is mainly ignored, it isn't always.

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I've ordered from Sparrow Wines in Hoboken, NJ and Woodland Hills in Southern, CA multiple times without problems. I've also ordered from a half dozen or more once or twice but prefer East Coast locations where I feel comofrtable with Fed Ex Ground transportation. Conversely if I lived in CA I would feel more comfortable with West Coast locations. I've physically been in many of the out of town stores I've bought from including the Wine Library and Sparrow (which has two small locations). Often I've found that my Wine Library orders arrive THE NEXT DAY!

I should note that I will not buy off of the Internet from early June to early September because of heat and my fear of problems with the wine arriving in good condition. Of course I also remember when Costco received most of their first growth 2000 Bordeaux in July and this came to them by truck, too. Still, I feel that I could return wine to a local store while doing this with the Internet could generate problems.

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We have had excellent luck with The Carolina Wine Company. They often have access to new releases of previously sold out vintages. We've been pleased with both the price and the service thus far. They seem to have a better than average selection of hard to find wines.

www.carolinawine.com

(Please excuse the fact that I didn't include a hyperlink -- I am a total novice at this whole thing. Wait -- I believe I am on to something here...)

Carolina Wine

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We have had excellent luck with The Carolina Wine Company.  They often have access to new releases of previously sold out vintages.  We've been pleased with both the price and the service thus far.  They seem to have a better than average selection of hard to find wines.

www.carolinawine.com

(Please excuse the fact that I didn't include a hyperlink -- I am a total novice at this whole thing.  Wait -- I believe I am on to something here...)

[/url]carolinawine.biz/index.asp?CartId={8DF64842-210A-4264-B55FEVEREST-4628BE586FFD}]Carolina Wine[/url]

You're close but the correct URL is: Carolina Wine Website
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TJ,

I highly recommend working with Joe if you are looking for something special.  I had commented on how much I liked the O/S that we had a while back and Joe managed to get me some at an excellent price.  Couldn't ask for better service or knowledge.  Excellent source if your others don't have what you want.

Thanks, deedub... O/S?? Wha?

I've ordered from only Stirling Fine Wines in NJ myself and even then I only went there in person. But, I do generally believe that some of the best prices on wine in the country are in NJ. I have heard very good things about Wine Library as well as K&L, too. WineZap and Wine Searcher are also very useful tools (though not perfect). Googling a wine you like also sometimes turns up retailers that carry the particular wine you're looking for, too.

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Anybody else wondering where Joe Riley IS?  I would think that he would have made his presence known by now. :)

Good heavens - I haven't had so many people looking for me since I crawled under the house on Easter Sunday when I was 5 :angry: (Come to think of it, I'm not certain that anyone was looking for me then...)

Okay! I'm happy to oblige all and sundry here with a special DR.com discount on all of these wines that Jake is offering. It's late and I'm home, so I don't have the costs in front of me, but I'm more than willing to accomodate everyone here that I can.

Please feel free to drop me an email at Joe@AceBevDC.com with the wines you are interested in and your screen name (so I can recognize who you are) and I'll respond as quickly as I can.

We're slammed this time of year with weddings and other events, and one of my co-workers is out for three weeks so I'm a tad more harried than usual, but I enjoy being able to help folks find what they are looking for and provide a reasonable price that will be gentle on your collective wallets.

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OK. I choose that Hartenberg Shiraz we had at the fundraiser the other night (Jake, did we have the 2001 or 2003?). Any takers??

As a total lightweight, not to mention wine novice, I would be interested in having the opportunity to buy a wine that others think highly of, as long as the cost is within my budget. And I do like Shiraz, so that would be a good start for me!
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We have had excellent luck with The Carolina Wine Company.  They often have access to new releases of previously sold out vintages.  We've been pleased with both the price and the service thus far.  They seem to have a better than average selection of hard to find wines.

www.carolinawine.com

(Please excuse the fact that I didn't include a hyperlink -- I am a total novice at this whole thing.  Wait -- I believe I am on to something here...)

Carolina Wine

Carolina Wine Company owner Crish Peel (yes, it's Crish, not Cris) is a prince of a fellow and they are absolutely the best wine shop in the south. First-rate selections, outstanding breadth and depth of selection.

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Interesting thread.  With all due respect to those in the industry who post on this board the best prices in the United States are generally not available in D. C.  Even Calvert Woodley, MacArthur, Magruder's and others are not as competitive as some of the New Jersey, New York and California stores these days.  The only D. C. store that I've found to compete with internet prices is Paul's and they actually do a very good job of this.  But their selection is limited.  On a wine that is about $15 or more, factoring in shipping, you can still do better to buy out of town off of the internet.  Most places have SIX BOTTLE minimums-it is not necessary to buy a case.  Or to have to pool money to buy three, four, six cases or more to get a 15 or 20% discount.  You CAN GET 30% off for six bottles!!!  Try these websites:  http://www.winezap.com/ and punch in the wine you are interested in.  There are several thousand stores in the U. S. that subscribe and list their prices.  Also, www.wine-searcher.com is similar but includes stores outside the U. S.  I have bought from Australia, Italy and Austria and had wine shipped to me here.  All much less expensive than any local store.  You should not have any hesitation in doing this.  Just because you are buying from, say, Sydney is no reason to feel any less secure than buying local.  If it is a large, reputable store in Sydney you should not have a problem.  (You'd be surprised how many people around the country are buying offshore and having wine shipped here!!!)  For what may be the highest volume internet store consider the Wine Library in Springfield, NJ which is a 60,000 square foot store (I've been to it) and generally gives 30% (Yes, I said THIRTY per cent) off on everything.

All of my suggestions are ONLY if you know what you want.  If you are tasting, want suggestions, want personal service then please go to the local stores, in particular those who post on here.  But if you are serious and know exactly what you want with the only issue price and having it safely shipped quickyl to you then read the first paragraph.

And yet, Internet wine ordering is still a trade-off.

What if your wine arrives with a broken bottle? What if your wine is corked? (we take back corked bottles, no questions asked, by the way). What if the shipper leaves your wine on a nice, sunny front porch where it sits in the sun for hours, or it just sits in a nice, hot UPS/FedEx truck for hours upon end? Come to think of it, alcohol shipping usually always requires an adult signature for delivery - what if you're not home? Ship to the office you say? Many companies have strict prohibitions against possession of alcohol on the premises by employees, no ifs ands or buts. The federal government workers here certainly know what I'm talking about in that regard.

What if you decide that, after trying one of the 6 bottles of a wine you just had shipped to you, that you don't really like it as much as you thought that you would, or had remembered that you did?

All I'm saying is, that there is a trade-off between "Crazy Eddie"-style LOW, LOW, LOW PRICES and service and assurance.

I recently went to the Nationals team store at RFK and was looking at a jacket which was something like $139. A guy mentioned to me that I could get it for a whole lot less on the MLB.com website. I thanked him for looking out for me, but I'd prefer to actually try a jacket on and make certain that it fits rather than risk buying it online and then discovering that it was too tight or too loose, or that there was something wrong with it. The peace of mind would be worth the extra $20 or so to me.

It all comes down to personal preference and comfort level, but with wine I believe the risks are much greater for ordering online.

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And yet, Internet wine ordering is still a trade-off.

What if your wine arrives with a broken bottle?  What if your wine is corked? (we take back corked bottles, no questions asked, by the way).  What if the shipper leaves your wine on a nice, sunny front porch where it sits in the sun for hours, or it just sits in a nice, hot UPS/FedEx truck for hours upon end?  Come to think of it, alcohol shipping usually always requires an adult signature for delivery - what if you're not home?  Ship to the office you say?  Many companies have strict prohibitions against possession of alcohol on the premises by employees, no ifs ands or buts.  The federal government workers here certainly know what I'm talking about in that regard.

What if you decide that, after trying one of the 6 bottles of a wine you just had shipped to you, that you don't really like it as much as you thought that you would, or had remembered that you did?

All I'm saying is, that there is a trade-off between "Crazy Eddie"-style LOW, LOW, LOW PRICES and service and assurance.

I recently went to the Nationals team store at RFK and was looking at a jacket which was something like $139.  A guy mentioned to me that I could get it for a whole lot less on the MLB.com website.  I thanked him for looking out for me, but I'd prefer to actually try a jacket on and make certain that it fits rather than risk buying it online and then discovering that it was too tight or too loose, or that there was something wrong with it.  The peace of mind would be worth the extra $20 or so to me. 

It all comes down to personal preference and comfort level, but with wine I believe the risks are much greater for ordering online.

The Wall Street Journal article notes that:

"On the whole our experience has been positive. We've ordered hundreds of cases without incidents (we order as regular customers without identifying ourselves as wine writers.")

They also note that "online sales are just part of a broader transformation in the way Americans buy wine."

I believe that there is a distinct market for online wine sales just as there is for Costco (who must really be taking a hit from this!). Still, the majority of people will continue to buy from yourself and others on this board. But I believe that just as the internet has seriously damaged the circulation of newspapers and other print media so will traditional wine merchants lose what may be a significant overall portion of their market share.

I strongly disagree with you: it is not a tradeoff as you suggest.

Much of your argument is irrelevant since how is wine shipped to YOU? What is the difference between sitting in a truck on a highway in July coming from New Jersey to a D. C. store or to a Virginia address? There is just as great of a chance of it spoiling for one as it is for another. I also note that wine that I buy at a winery in Italy and carry home actually tastes a bit better than a similar bottle purchased from a store here. It probably spent several weeks on a boat coming here along with countless hours/days on a dock waiting to be unloaded. Some of these internet sites wait until they fill up a complete palette and then order directly from overseas.

Having said all this I have not, to date, bought wine off of the internet in the summer. I've also been concerned about a lot of wine that I've bought from stores which was shipped in the summer. Note that many bottles of the 2000 vintage of bordeaux were shipped and delivered in June and July. Wine from Australia and New Zealand is literally being shipped from one season to another, passing through what must potentially be significant changes of temperature.

I've never returned a bottle to a store for any reason. But I must note that for years I've driven from Reston to C/W or MacArthur or other stores to buy. If I had to return a bottle to an online store it would take me less time that driving from Reston to D. C. and back.

The shipper is not going to leave any bottle of wine on any porch; he'll take it back to the warehouse because as you noted it must be signed for.

There is a difference between buying clothing where fit is essential and buying wine when you know exactly what you want. I also find that I tend to trust Parker's and the Wine Spectator's opinions as much as any local operator. I've had misses with both just as I've also had variation from one bottle to another of the same wine.

I have friends who will always continue to buy from a store where they know and trust the operator. I have other friends who now buy at least 50% of their wine off of the internet. It is this last group where stores like KL and the Wine Library have had so much penetration.

Having said this there is one market where online buying should not have impact on: wine that costs $10 or less per bottle. This is because of the usual $2 per bottle shipping charge. But the higher the cost of the bottle the greater the motivation to buy volume off of the internet.

Frankly, you and others are fighting for your lives right now because of the internet. More and more wineries will also because it will become absolutely essential that this kind of "Wal Marting" of wine distribution can put a lot of them out of business. Unfortunately it is going to happen, too. And, no, this is NOT good. Just as big box stores have killed so many "mom and pop's" and national chains have run local operators in many industries out of business, so will this happen with wine.

But again, I note, that you can take advantage of this and start you own online following. It is just as easy for you to start an online operation shipping out of D. C. as it is for shipping out of Springfield, NJ or Redwood City, CA. I think I would take your same knowledge and expertise and go after the internet. There's a lot of room for someone like yourself. But in a year or two there may no longer be.

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I included the wine web shopping info from WSJ upthread because some members of this community live where the grapes roam relatively free (compared to Maryland & DC). I hope we can spin the wine shopping via local purveyor v. the internet posts into a separate thread.

Back on topic: I’m interested in splitting a case of a wine Joe Riley recommended here and I subsequently bought at Ace Beverage - Altos Las Hormigas Malbec. “Ant Hill” complements beef and someone who shared this wine with us in January remembered (!) and pointed out that it's ranked # 42 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 Scoring Wines 2005 list. Wine Spectator lists it for $24 / bottle. Joe sounds a bit slammed (busy at work), but I’d like to approach him/Ace for this buy.

Anyone game?

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Back on topic: I’m interest in splitting a case of a wine Joe Riley recommended here and I subsequently bought at Ace Beverage - Altos Las Hormigas Malbec.  “Ant Hill” complements beef and someone who shared this wine with us in January remembered (!) and pointed out that it's ranked # 42 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 Scoring Wines 2005 list. Wine Spectator lists it for $24 / bottle. Joe sounds a bit slammed  (busy at work), but I’d like to approach him/Ace for this buy.

Anyone game?

Interestingly, I bought the Las Hormigas on Joe's recommendation, and it was good, but the bottom line is that I prefer the Alamos Malbec more. Since we are talking VERY cheap wine, this might be an opportunity to do a "Compare and Contrast."
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As far as the safety of ordering online vs. at a local store -- I think much of it depends upon the reputation and integrity of the retailer. I have yet to have any problem with wine we have ordered online (or had shipped directly from a vineyard). Our experience isn't as vast as some -- probably five hundred or so bottles purchased and/or shipped that way. I know it can happen; thus far, we've been lucky. Usually the big retailers will hold purchases and ship during the cooler months. Many use specialty packing and shipping services for more control. We always ship to our office address so that there is no chance of the sitting outside for any length of time at our end.

On the other hand, I have had at least half a dozen "corked" bottles from a certain "speciality" wine purveyor in the McArthur Blvd. corridor. In fairness, most of these bottles were purchased during or right after a large renovation project on their premises. Nonetheless, that's a lot of spoiled bottles. Did they all get spoiled at that location? I doubt it. Interestingly, the wines have included inexpensive and very expensive bottles. And, in the defense of the wine store -- I still do business there. Their consultants have helped me pair wines with many a menu. They are good about taking returns -- I am just not that good about bothering to take the "corked" bottles back. I don't catalog and save all my wine receipts, and I remove the price tags before serving the wine. Therefore, returning the wine isn't as simple as if I was bringing it back to Target where they can pull up my receipt using my credit card number. Speaking of that -- when will Target start selling wine...

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