Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reserva Wine Club - A New Wine Club for Canada

Today Canada's major loyalty program, Aeroplan, announced a new wine club called the Reserva Wine Club. Exclusive to Aeroplan members, those who join will have "access" (i.e. you are "allowed" to purchase) to a specially selected mixed case of six bottles every two months. These wines will be chosen by an expert tasting panel and will not be available in Canadian stores otherwise. Members will also receive Tidings Magazine, get a joining bonus, and earn miles on their purchases.

At first glance I thought Opimian, The Wine Society of Canada (Canada's only wine club) might be dismayed at this turn of events. But the inclusion of Tidings Magazine and the logistics for picking up the wine reek of Opimian involvement...?

Regardless, the question comes to mind: Why join the Reserva Wine Club when you can join Opimian? The Opimian Select program offers mixed cases pre-selected for you, and you can order from their regular catalogue as well (I will discuss Opimian in greater detail at a future date, but this write-up may help). It would seem that the key differences are that the annual membership fee for Reserva is slightly lower and you collect Aeroplan miles on your purchases. Beyond that, it is impossible to say who has the better wines - both seem to have equally obscure providers.

So the wine club concept is coming to Canada in a splashier way vs. the rather low-key promotion of the Opimian Society. I have to think the growing interest in wine and the Aeroplan demographic will make Reserva a hit, but I am not sure how a mixed case of cheap wine sits with this blogger. From my perspective, if you are looking to randomly try pre-selected wines in this price range, this could be a way to get you out of your zone - and collect Aeroplan miles to boot. But for me, I don't need the help with the miles or getting out of my zone so I think I'll pass (for now...).

PS - for my friends outside of Canada a wine club not a novel concept, but because of various regulations up here (and a rather small domestic industry) the wine club concept remains an oddity. I'm hoping we see more of it.

9 comments:

Erin said...

I'd be much more likely to go the Opimian route, based on what I've read about Reserva. Opimian's wines are more interesting to me and it weirds me out that Reserva is an Aeroplan dependent. I barely trust Air Canada to serve me a edible meal, never mind picking out wine for me. Ick.

By the by, just found out I'm headed to Montreal in a couple months...food, drink and jazz recommendations would be awesome if you have the time.

Joe said...

Hi Erin - I am actually an Opimian member, but I use it rather infrequently so you probably don't see to many of their wines. To their credit, it sounds like Reserva has picked up some good advisors to create this club. I will follow up with some food, drink and jazz recommendations!

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe: I am a previous area representative for the Opimian Society (New Brunswick). It is a volunteer job, but I met a lot of people through it. It is a really good wine club, and a way to meet some very nice people. I strongly recommend it.

I now live in Venice/Sarasota Florida, and there are a lot of different wine venues, but mostly Californian wines. I think there is a big opportunity for a great wine club here, featuring European and other countries wines.

Best Regards,
Barb

Joe said...

Hi Barb, thanks for your comments. I have been an Opimian for a few years and I enjoy being a member. I was always jealous of how many wine clubs the U.S. has, but as you say they are all focused on California. You are probably right - a good worldwide club should be a hit in the U.S. Thanks for visiting!

Patrick said...

After joining Reserva when it was first offered, I tried to visit the web site today to see when my first shipment would be available and I see only;

We are very sorry to inform you that
Reserva Wine Club is no longer available.

If you have any questions, please contact reserva@aeroplan.com.


Clicking on the e-mail link doesn't even work!! Air canada comes through again!!!! (sarcasm)

Joe said...

Hi Patrick. That's weird, I thought it would be a success (I got a lot of hits)! Sorry to hear that - I was hoping someone would give me some feedback. We need more wine clubs in Canada, but I think the Government screws it up...

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
My bet is that the liquor boards crushed this wine club, perhaps because the LCBO issues Air Miles for wine purchases and Aeroplan would be in direct competition, and we all know monopolies and competition don't mix.

Julie

Joe said...

Hi Julie, you are probably right, but it doesn't explain why the Opimians still exist!

Joe said...

Hi Erin - it has been a very long time - you still looking for Montreal recommendations, or did I miss this? My apologies if I did...