Our experience in Sedona over the last four years has been focused in a few key areas; working, hiking, and early retirement planning. Also sprinkled in for fun is visiting with family when they are in town, about 6 months of the year. We realize that it is important to make more connections with neighbors and reach out to form new friendships. This has been difficult to do in a small town of 10,000 where over half of the people are part-time residents, older than we are, and already retired. Dianne and I have discussed how we could go about making new friends, while enjoying a glass of wine and watching the sunset over the red rocks from our balcony.
We have considered the idea of joining a local winery as one method to meet new people and expand on our casual associations we already have. What has held us back was the cost of the membership and wine shipments each quarter. We certainly would have no problem drinking the wine, but it is just much more expensive than what we could buy at the local grocery store. We typically purchase mid-level wines when they are on sale. Dianne is more of the wine connoisseur than I am, however we are both fine with her selecting nice bottles of wine to drink.
Through much deliberation, we made the jump and spent $1,000 on a wine membership. Yikes, did I just actually write that? What a bone headed, anti-frugal, non-early retirement early move to make! No worries, I will definitely explain our reasoning.
We were wine club members in the San Francisco Bay Area
We have shared with our readers through our articles and comments that we relocated from Northern California 4 years ago to Sedona Arizona. We were wine club members of two wineries that created some great blends from the local California grapes. Our wine memberships were free, as long as we signed up and agreed to receive four quarterly shipments. They had excellent wines and we attended many club events.
One example of these events was called the Food Truck Frenzy. The winery would invite about 10 food trucks to pull into the back area of their facility and create a half circle. Seating and tables were set up in the center and live music and entertainment were provided. The food trucks had a variety of delicious foods, my favorite truck being one that had bacon in every item. This setting provided an unobstructed view of downtown San Francisco and the Oakland Bay Bridge. We met many nice people and witnessed numerous sunsets over the water and city skyline. It was beautiful!
Excellent wines from the Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles areas were featured at these events. Our last act of desperation prior to moving to Sedona was buying three cases of various California wines, since we felt they would not be available in our small town in Arizona.
The Arizona grapes and wines are different from California
Once we left California, we visited three local wineries that were within 15 minutes of Sedona. This was during the first few months of moving to our new home. The fond memories of the tasting rooms and events were still fresh in our minds and we wanted to recapture those memories. We craved to have a piece of that California experience in our lives in Sedona.
At that time, the taste and blends of the Arizona wines did not compare to the California wines we enjoyed in the past. We also noticed that the service and selection of wines were not to the same level. Over the next 3 ½ years we would occasionally visit the three wineries in our area trying them again to see if anything had changed.
My question to my 85-year-old neighbor going on age 40:
“Bob, why are you always so happy”?
“Because I stay drunk all the time” – Bob
Actually, his happiness is derived from golfing 5 days a week…. while his wife works 🙂
The good news is we saw a marked improvement of two of the vintners with their wines, tasting rooms, and overall facilities. Also, with more exposure to the Arizona wines, the bouquet, taste, and complexities grew on us. This got us thinking again about becoming members, attempting to recapture some of those experiences we had in the past.
We debated the cost versus happiness factor for joining a winery
Ok, for those reading our articles about a quest to become financially independent and retire early, why are we talking about spending wine on fancy pants wine instead of saving and investing? A recent post about the return on happiness can help explain our thought process.
We want to be active socially and develop more friendships in our community. Our fond memories of meeting and talking with people at the winery reinforced the idea that we should consider this approach again. We went all in and joined the $1,000 level membership of the larger winery in the region. What the heck? We paid $1,000 for a membership and then also have to buy our wine. Have we gone crazy?
We hope not!
Some more details and justification:
- This membership offers free and unlimited tastings for six guests each visit for life! We are going to live a long time and we will get our money’s worth. The tastings are $10 per person to receive six flights. We can work our way through this 7 days a week for lunch and dinner 350 days per year. There would be a quick ROI and ROH (Return on Happiness) on that option. Who says that wine is not just a breakfast drink anymore?
- There are other membership levels that do not have an “initiation fee” available. The membership we selected has only 150 members and is an invitation only club. It has been closed to new members for some time now. Fortunately, Dianne is well connected and we had no issues joining. These openings do not come available often; we decided to jump all in with a $1,000 hit to the budget. (On our first visit we ran into a famous local artist we know who also happens to be in this limited club – bonus!)
- Each time we decide that we like a wine enough to purchase it, we get a 25% discount on the price. If we are there around happy hour, or we can talk them into it, we can also get an additional 5% off.
- We receive special invitations to private events not open to the public. This could be dinners, barrel tastings, seminars, and other events. This is a great way to meet local wine enthusiasts and to make new friends.
- There is a private seating area (to date this area has not been full) available to the members in this club. The private room overlooks the valley and vineyard. Our smugness level continues to increase as we walk past a packed tasting room 4 people deep to our own private chairs or sofa.
- We can justify anything as humans. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. It seems that once we determine that we want to do something, the planets come into alignment and the numbers magically work to prove we are right in our decision. This of course is what happened in this decision making process while we were drinking wine and trying to decide if we should join a club that would enable us to drink more wine. It is weird how that works.
Conclusion and justification of why it is completely logical to spend $1,000 to have the right to buy expensive fine wine
We know the Sedona area will be our home for years due to Dianne’s parents nearby and our love of the area. This wine membership will be used extensively. My guess is that if we really track our tasting visits, it will take only a couple years to breakeven. We have 40 more years at least left on the earth, so that will provide us a great ROH.
It is interesting how many of the folks we have invited to come tasting with us have promptly accepted. No one has declined yet, with plenty of fun had by all. We have met new people and continued to build friendships from what were more casual acquaintances in the past. When we ask people if they want to go for wine tastings at the best winery around, our treat, it is an easy sell.
Finally, the biggest benefit is that we are able to drink some quality wines at a discounted price. We still have some frugal DNA buried in our wine consuming stomachs; however we do appreciate a cost to taste value that is favorable on the budget. I just hope the winery doesn’t decide to kick us out due to the fact they probably will lose money on us. Only time will tell!