Being the devoted oenophile that I am, it’s only natural that I receive e-mails from several different wine merchants all vying for my limited wine dollar budget. In this post I am going to examine the tactics used by three of these marketing mavens and explain why one is my clear favorite. The three wine stores approaches that will be outlined here are: HOPS  N GRAPES, GLASSBORO, NJ, MOORE BROTHERS, PENNSAUKEN, NJ, and THE WINE LIBRARY in SPRINGFIELD, NJ. All three of these stores use a different internet approach to selling wine.

HOPS N GRAPES sends a daily e-mail featuring one wine for the day. You must print out the coupon and present it in store or you can order online for in-store pick-up. Limit on their offers is 12 bottles. There are no further discounts on case purchases. My problem with this marketing strategy is in several areas. First, the wine offered is seldom of much interest to me as I would say maybe 1 in every 20 catches my eye. For instance, Friday’s offering was the 2008 Two Hands, Brilliant Disguise, Moscato, Barossa Valley, Australia. Now Two Hands makes some pretty decent juice in a number of grape varietals but a Moscato is a “bubbly” or dessert=type wine and I very seldom drink them. Secondly, it sells normally for $15.99 and their offer price is $13.98. Virtually all of their offers are for 10 to 15% off and you would expect that type of discount on any case purchase anyway so, all in all, it’s not something that is ever going to appeal to me. Additionally, there were times in the beginning when I would receive the e-mail for that day’s offering late in the evening with no time to get there had I been interested. This problem appears to now be corrected. In fairness, I have been in the store and spoke to employees who were busy filling orders on these daily specials so what do I know?

Gary Vaynerchuk runs a mega-wine operation in North Jersey called The Wine Library. His Wine Library TV has become an internet institution and his online tastings have brought him much fame and great wealth. There is little debate among his fans and critics alike that he has in the past few years displayed the talents of a marketing genius. Let me just say in reference to the internet marketing strategy employed by the folks at The Wine Library, if you are a shut-in who wished they had more e-mails to read on a daily basis, do yourself a favor and subscribe to the internet mailing list for the Wine Library. You will find yourself busy most of the day just trying to keep up with the latest, “spectacular” “better hurry while supplies last”, “you won’t believe what we are offering next” sales pitch. Again, are some of them real values? Yes they are, but the sheer volume and absurdity of their approach with three, four and five “unbelievable deals” a day just wears one out after a while. Having made a couple of 90 minute trips up to their Springfield, NJ location I am actually underwhelmed by their selection. There are a lot of choices, there are a few “hard to find” wines, on occasion, but the vast majority, in my opinion are of the not so well-known variety which leads me to believe that because the buy in such huge volume they work out “special deals” with the wineries or distributors and then market these wines as “unusual savings opportunities.” Again, they are a tremendously successful operation but although I like and admire Gary V, I seldom “bite” on the many opportunities to buy.

The third example I have chosen for this marketing comparison is Moore Brothers in Pennsauken, NJ. This unique wine selling operation has two other locations in Delaware and New York City. They sell wines from small growers (primarily) in France, Italy and Germany. Their stores are maintained at 56 degrees and they go to great lengths to see that the wines they sell are shipped and stored at the proper temperatures. They sell only wine so you have to venture elsewhere for your beer or spirits. Moore Brothers does not deluge your server with daily offers. They send an e-mail approximately once every ten days and that in itself adds a sense of importance to each one.  One of the last ones was simply titled……”a five hour dinner with Xavier Vignon” . There followed a short narrative on Greg Moore’s recent trip to the south of France, his dinner with the wine-maker and closed with this offer ”

Wines like this terrific $14 blend of ripe Syrah, old-vines bush-trained Grenache, and mineral rich Mourvèdre have generated some of the most enthusiastic feedback we ever receive.

And this one could be, dollar for dollar, the wine of the vintage. Everything you expect is here: exotic black fruit, lavender and graphite, fresh white tobacco and herbes de Provence. And then there is the secret to all of Xavier Vignon’s wines: the perfect, mouthfilling seasoning of saline minerality that comes from deeply rooted old vines.

This morning there are twenty-eight cases at Moore Brothers New Jersey.

$14 per bottle on paid orders received before July 27. *
Regular price $16 per bottle. No further case discounts apply in this offer.


Ventoux Xavier Vignon 2007 (reg. $16.00)    $14.00  buy now

I bought a few. This is the type of approach that appeals to me and I discovered a great, inexpensive Cote du Ventoux wine that works exceptionally well with food. It’s more of a soft sell, the urgency is there but it almost feels like “if it sounds good, it’s here for you”. They tell you how many they have and you can decide for yourself how soon you should get there.

So there you have it. Three different approaches to selling wine on the internet. For all I know, each has been very successful for the individual operations. I just wanted to let you know the approach that works best for me. There are scores of totally different approaches. I subscribe to many of them and would have placed orders with several had it been easier to arrange wine shipments to New Jersey (that’s a story for another time)Remember, as with any opinion, your mileage may vary!


  1. Once again I love reading this articles about our store, haha. It helps me realize where I’m succeeding and where I’m falling short.

    The daily emails that we send out have been plagued with problems that I’m sure you’ve seen. I’ve gone through so many server tweaks and script changes and everything to find something that works. I finally succeeding in developing my own timed “chron job” as they call it which has been working.

    As far as the choice of wine, we choose wine that we are the cheapest on and that will sell. Times are tough and it is hard to sell $20 wine these days. We target the $15 and below market, and before we choose a wine for a daily special we search both and Google and we make sure that our daily special price is the lowest price you can get for that wine on the internet. If we can not beat someone’s price, then we do not run that particular wine.

    Unfortunately, as I’m sure you are aware, French wines are having so much trouble selling. I would love to run a lot of these bordeauxs and Cote De Nuits that we have, but they just will not sell and it’s very unfortunate. Moscato sells huge in our area, as does Spanish wine. French wine is a hard sell. It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t build the machine I’m just telling you how I fly it 🙂

    Also your Wine Library critique is correct. All the wines that they run as specials and must have deals, etc, etc are actually distributed by them. We can not get these wines even if we wanted to. It’s a loophole practice that Total Wine has been using. These are all private cellared wines or juice that they slap a label on with the vineyards permission. So the “select vineyard” or “second harvest” or whatever pitch they want to add to the wine is just the same juice, different bottle, different label that they are the only ones that are allowed to sell at whatever discount the vineyard wants to give them.

    The other sneaky practice they use is that they say “INTERNET’S CHEAPEST PRICE $49.99” then you go and look and they are the only ones that have it, so the $25 must have deal looks great next to $50, but imagine if someone paid that $50? This happened recently with the Leeuwin Artist Series that they said “CHEAPEST INTERNET $45.99 ON SALE $25” when the bottle, if we carried it, would sell for $23.99 at regular fair markup. I’ve been studying these guys for a while so I know how they run.

    If you want to know anything else about the internet marketing campaign or have some ideas I’d love to hear it! This is a very new area for wine buyers and we’re just trying to squeeze into our little niche to give customers the best prices we can.

    Thanks again!

  2. ballymote Says:


    Great comments and great insight on the topic. I came very close to comparing the Wine Library to Total Wine and Spirits for the exact reasons you listed.

    Feel free to comment to the post above this one. 🙂

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