How to start a wine club!

Now I've promised to write a bit about how to start an office wine club, and now that my fears of being arrested for bootlegging have subsided (though I recall stories that my great grandfather engaged in a bit of this trade during the waning days of prohibition, so maybe that's where I get it).

The first step is to determine if there is demand for a club in your office.  If you are the only wine drinker, you can start a club for yourself, but some people might consider that a "problem."  If there are a few folks interested, then you need to figure out if this is something that the boss would approve of, or if you need to keep it in the basement with a secret code word.  If those conditions are met, then your ready to begin the hard part, picking wine!

The way we do it, is that I manage the selections and logistics, however everyone understands that if I am selecting, they will only get red wines.  I open it up for whites or others, provided someone gives me a solid idea and the commit to buying all the wine (since I certainly won't drink it), and in a year and a half, no one has taken me up on the chance to sugges a white!  In your club, you may rotate selections, assign one person, or whatever other method works for you.  I'll warn you though, unless you have someone who at least has a rudimentary understanding of wine and can identify 3 or more solid sources (internet or otherwise), you could run into trouble.  I use my local wine merchants along with Wines Till Sold Out,,, Esquin Wine Merchants in Seattle, and even my favorite winery, L'Ecole No. 41.  I wouldn't say it's a full time job or anything, but several times a week I am looking at potential future selections and when I make a choice I buy them and store them ahead of time for the club (right now I have about a 7 month supply).

Once you have a leader or leaders, then you're ready to start!  We typically have one selection a month, though occasionally we have bonus wines due to exceptional bargains I may run into.  On the first of the month, like today in fact, I send out an e-mail to the club members describing the wine for the month along with the price, and then it's first come, first served.  We have about 16 regular members, but more often than not, only 10-12 will buy a bottle in any given month.  So I only order a case and then round the total price to the nearest dollar (I don't have a cash register in my office).  It's also a good idea to put a sheet by the wine so if your out of the office, people can check their name and whether or not they paid (there are deadbeats in every office! LOL), and it helps to keep track of inventory, after all, If I bought a case of wine, I want to drink every bottle unless they belong to a paying member!   

Overall, this is a fun way to interact with coworkers and enjoy a glass or two of good wine throughout the year!