You’ve probably seen ads on social media for monthly wine subscriptions. A carton of handpicked-wine bottles delivered to your door may seem a tempting offer. If only you could be sure that they would actually make it all the way to your table; sure that they’d be well-selected. If only you could be sure you could trust the company behind the box.
Well, there are few wine and spirits stores that are as trusted by the Capitol Hill community as Schneider’s of Capitol Hill (300 Massachusetts Ave. NE), which celebrated their 70th anniversary last year. Schneider’s just launched the Schneider’s Selects wine club that delivers 3 or 6 carefully selected bottles to your door.
“Every month the wines will arrive, and they express the best quality for price and the real terroir of the region,” said Elyse Genderson.
Terrior is Elyse Genderson’s favorite ‘wine word’, a French term covering all the factors that go into what you taste in your glass, including soil, water, cultural and winemaking practices.
Established Business, New Styles
The monthly wine club is a new way of selling for a long-established business. Genderson is Vice President at Schneider’s, and the fourth generation of her family to work in the family business. When her father John and his brother Rick took over the store from their parents in 1949, Scheneider’s sold pints of liquor and single beers. John and Rick turned it into the well-known high-end retailer of wine and spirits it is today.
Genderson’s dark eyes light up as she describes the purpose of the monthly club, which she says is to educate and excite people about wine. Noting the new condo buildings coming up all over the District, Genderson said that a lot of the people moving in are young new professionals like herself, who ‘work all the time, and just don’t have the time to shop’. Others may want to explore fine wines from particular regions but don’t have a way to get it from store-to-door, because they don’t have a vehicle or they don’t have the ability to carry an entire box of bottles. For all of these clients, she said, Schneider’s Selects is an easy way to get amazing wine from the best classic region, all delivered to your door.
The box comes with the stories of each bottle and their producers, well-known to Genderson because Schneider’s is not only a retailer but also an importer of wines. Many of these relationships with producers go back many years. For instance, one of Genderson’s favorite wineries in Ribera del Duero is Felix Callejo wineries. Now also in its fourth generation, the winery is run by three sisters whose brother took over as winemaker.
Schneider’s knows their wineries and their wines. In addition to Elyse Genderson, a trained sommelier as well as VP, they have seven wine experts on staff. They don’t use mathematical formula to choose your wines, preferring to talk to people. Genderson said that she doesn’t think wine lends itself to an algorithm, saying that the kind of quizzes that match people to varieties based on whether they drink their coffee black or with milk miss out on nuance captured in conversation. “That’s the cool thing about us,” she said. “We’re small enough that we have the time and attention to give to each customer, not just a computer.”
That customer service is what sets Schneider’s apart. When you call to offer feedback, it is Genderson herself who will answer inquiries about the wines or the program. The staff speaks daily to customers and can pick the best universally-loved, quality wines as well as point to smaller, less-known producers and include them in a monthly sampler.
“Of course, if someone has feedback, I’m so happy to do a bespoke program for anyone and I be working with them directly to make sure that they get wines that they love,” said Genderson. We’re super-happy to make adjustments based on their taste preferences.”
Even better, she said, come in the store. The experts will take you through their favorite wines and answer any questions you have.
Free DC Shipping
Club membership is $95 a month for 3 bottles, or $175 for 6. Within the District, delivery is free. It’s also done by the in-house Schneider’s staff, who bring each box to your door, co-ordinating with you so your wine can be signed for by an adult.
Schneider’s has always had a major national shipping component to their business, shipping high quality wines across the country, so they have the infrastructure in place to offer shipping outside the District in a stream-lined way. “We monitor it, and if we see there’s a delay or that something happened, we reach out to you right away.”
Though they are an established company, Schneider’s has found multiple new ways to get people as excited about wine as they are. Every month, they host a monthly dinner and wine tasting hosted by the wine producer themselves, with details sent monthly to those on the list. In January, winemaker Greg Brewer of California winery Brewer Clifton hosted the dinner at Rare Steakhouse (1595 I St. NW), presiding over a tasting during which he told stories of the wine and the winery. You can get on the list yourself by visiting cellar.com
Schneider’s of Capitol Hill also has an app available to both ioS and Google users (just search ‘Schneiders of Capitol Hill’, and get $10 off your first wine purchase of $25). Their website, cellar.com, is about to be updated early this year.
You can join Schneider’s Selects wine club online now by visiting cellar.com/clubcellar.aspx. Visit cellar.com to see their full selection of fine wines, spirits and to join their dining club mailing list and to hear about flash sales on rare and end-of-line wines. Download the app for iPhone and Android today, or follow them on social media @schneiderswine
Learn even more about wine from Elyse Genderson by reading her ‘Wine Girl’ column in the Hill Rag.