Exclusive/small production winery mailing lists

Well executed mailing lists provide benefits to consumer and winery alike.  Most wineries don't do it well.  They are usually the ones were the same wine can be found at the local supermarket retailer at a lower price.  However, some wineries do it really well.  Usually, this is because they provide their wines at good discounts to reward customers for purchasing directly.  Alternatively, they provide access to hard to find or small production wines.  Well, in my view, they need to at least do one or more of these things to make it worthwhile.

I'd like to build this article out to identify Australia's best mailing lists for the wine consumer.  If you have additions or comments, let me know.  Here's a start.

1. Rockford, Barossa Valley

Rockford's mailing list is famous, and has been a stunning success for both winery and consumer. It is divided between "stonewallers" and non-stonewallers.  Stonewallers have the opportunity to purchase Rockford's Basket Press shiraz and their sparkling black shiraz at substantially discounted prices and to dine at their winery in the Barossa Valley,  Non stonewallers mailing list have access to Rockford's other releases.  Stonewaller eligibility depends on purchasing loyalty over time.  If you would like to join, give them a call.

2. Wendouree, Clare Valley

Wendouree in the Clare Valley is one of Australia's great producers and has a particularly lo-fi approach.  There is no website.  There is no cellar door.   There's a sign post off the road.  That's it.  Once on the mailing list, an arcane allocation system is in use.  An order form will arrive (by post) with no marking, then based on past purchases, a red crayon mark, a black crayon mark and then initials.  The so-called crayons determine access rather than price.  Loyal customers willingly jump all of these hurdles because the pricing offered to mailing list customers is substantially discounted, and the wines are not otherwise easily found.  If you would like to join this list, you can write them a letter.

3. Mount Mary, Yarra Valley

Access to Mount Mary's mailing list is via their website.  As a mailing list member, you have access to all of their wines, at a slight discount to retail.  There is a "Members' Table" subcategory, which provides certain further limited benefits such as access to members only tasting events.  Mount Mary's newsletter remains an interesting read, providing vintage colour that serves as a reference point.

Note: This article was updated in 2018.
Wine Thoughts
January 16, 2011


Hurricane (Not) said…
Re. Rockford, you don't get on their mailing list until you order something (at least that was what I was told when I asked) and at some point your purchases are going to be enough to have you upgraded to Stonewaller status. I suspect there may be a waiting list and some sort of pecking order involved (i.e. your position on the waiting list is determined by how much you buy rather than when you started)....
Janine said…
With regards to Rockford, it took me 3 years of buying a dozen each year to be upgraded to Stonewaller status. This was 4years ago. I have been to the winery several times since and am even flying down this year for the Black Magnum golf competition. The Stonewaller experience at the winery is fantastic. Rockford can be a bit funny at the cellar door, but as soon as you identify yourself as a SW you get taken to another room and the tasting is a he'll of a lot better.
Anonymous said…
Clonakilla have indeed started a separate mailing list a la Rockofrd, called "insiders". I havent really discerned how it works, but have had no trouble getting the small amounts of Shiraz Viognier and other special bits over the last year or so,
Thank you all - great comments.
Anonymous said…
Stonewallers dont get heavily discounted prices just a better place to try the wines and an earlier chance to purchase them over cellar door buyers. I went for a Stonewallers a year or so ago, unreal experience to say the least. I buy every year my entitlement of Basket Press and Black Shiraz.
Anonymous said…
sorry that was meant to be Stonewallers lunch above.
Anonymous said…

A couple of others to add to your list:

Yarra Yering: has just established a "closed" mailing list (with medallion / member number etc). However, I suspect if you like the wines, and contact them, you will soon be added.

Head wines: I know you may not know this tiny producer, but his wines are brilliant, and sell out very fast. Mailing list gives you access to the new releases.

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