God and the Nature of the Wine Club

ephesiansWere a god of the Abrahamic variety to engage in a conversation with me, they would likely want to know, “What gives? Why no submission?”

It turns out any of these Gods hey would indeed have good reason to ask of me this kind of question. My best defense would be, “well, sorry about that, I just have question. But, rest assured, I’ve read your books and do find a great deal in them to recommend. So there’s that.”

When pressed on just what I’ve found to recommend, despite avoiding submission, I’d probably point to Ephesians 5:21, which begins with ” be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”

This biblical passage is understood as a recipe for how husbands and wives ought to relate to one another. It’s controversial to the most reformed Christians as the passage goes on later to suggest that the wife submit to the husband.

However, the very basic idea that we all ought to be subject to one another turns out to be useful advice not only to the non-believer like me, but also to wineries and to the winery’s wine club member. If understood correctly and taken to heart, Ephesians 5:21 can lead to a better relationship overall between winery and their customers—and at its center, that is exactly what a winery and its wine club members possess together: A relationship.

No winery/customer relationship is more intimate than that of the producer and his wine club member.  The wine club member has put their faith and funds in the winery, committing to them, as it were. Meanwhile, there is every expectation by the wine club member that the winery will think first about them and, in essence, commit the winery to the well-being of the wine club member.  There is a partnership here that if forgotten or broken by either party leads to disappointment, anxiousness, and regret. The winery and the wine club member can avoid this by keeping present in mind the idea that they ought to be subject to one another.

For the winery, this must indeed mean first and foremost that the wine club member remain always at the front of the line. The winery has promised an intimate relationship. They’ve promised a return on the member’s investment in time, energy, money and attention. It means knowing them; knowing what they want and like; treating them as the intimate they are when they visit the winery.\; assuring them that they, before all others, are the first to know what changes, events, notoriety or alterations arise at the winery. It means treating them as partners. This is only accomplished if the winery keeps the happiness of the wine club members in mind at every turn.

But there are responsibilities wine club members also possess by virtue of entering into the fold of the club. To put it another way, the customer is not always right. Or, rather, a partnership requires equality.

Anyone who manages a tasting room or a wine club is familiar with the club member that makes demands beyond what they have either earned via membership or deserve. Greater discounts. Non-promised complimentary use of winery facilities. Bringing more than the allotted friends to a club event. Demanding access to more wine than they are entitled. Many club managers will give in to these demands without recognizing that by doing so, they harm the integrity of the entire club as well as the partnership they have established with their other club members. It is important that when a club members attempts to abuse their place in the partnership, they are told “no” and reminded of the terms of the partnership; that if the terms are altered for them, they must be altered for everyone.

“Be Subject To One Another”

While on one level this is a Godly admonition that husbands and wives treat one another with due respect, it is also a recipe for the partnership that is the winery and the wine club member that if followed, will result in loyalty aimed at both parties. It is the foundation of a well run partnership and a well run wine club.

4 Responses

  1. W.R. Vinovskis - June 2, 2013


  2. Stephanie - June 3, 2013

    AH! Someone finally said it! Er, wrote it! The question now is, how can wineries best explain this concept to those entitled customers so that they actually understand? How do we still be polite and customer-centric while getting our point across and sticking to our policies and business models?

  3. W.R. Vinovskis - June 3, 2013

    Here’s the challenge, Stephanie: By joining a wine club you are recognized as someone “special” to the winery. Some wine club members (and you know who they are) thrive on being treated as “special” when they walk in the door. Now, how does one, in a tactful way, say to the cherished club member, “You’re special, just not ‘that’ special.”

  4. Stephanie - June 3, 2013

    It’s not about telling them they are “not ‘that’ special”, but about being able to respectfully convey what is reasonable or unreasonable to accommodate. Club members are special and should be treated as such, even when you occasionally have to dig deep to bring out that extra specialness. And generally speaking, most club members are great and the partnership outlined above truly does exist. What I mean to ask though, is what the winery is supposed to do when they come across a very sour customer. You know them, the members that make a request that the winery just cannot reasonably accommodate, or if there is miscommunication at some point during the relationship and all trust and respect from the customer flies right out the window as if it never existed in the first place. The member accuses the winery of being unemotional, uncaring, or operating with ill intentions, and the winery is left with no option but to acquiesce to the request or to lose the member (or worse, in the current days where “I’m going to ‘Yelp’ you” is now used as a threat). Can a winery – or any business for that matter – really say “no” to its customers in an effort to establish and preserve true partnerships?

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