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Justin Howard-Sneyd starts wine club for Domaine of the Bee estate

Published:  20 August, 2014

Justin Howard-Sneyd MW is following in the footsteps of boss Tony Laithwaite by starting a wine club for sales from his Languedoc estate Domaine of the Bee.

As well as offering preferential pricing to members, they will also receive invitations to Wine Club events, and priority access to special bottlings.

"We know our customers pretty well, and want to ensure that the really loyal people get the best price for our wine," Howard-Sneyd said.  

Justin Howard-SneydDomaine of the Bee launches a wine clubThere are three partners behind the Domaine of the Bee estate: Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, Amanda Howard-Sneyd and Philippe Sacerdot.

Former global wine director for Laithwaite's business Direct Wines and now consultant for the firm, Howard-Sneyd said Tony Laithwaite himself told him about when he founded Chateau la Clariere, and started a wine club to sell directly to customers, some of whom still buy a case 30 years later. "It's about having a connection to a group - we'd love to develop that kind of longterm loyalty."

A 12 bottle case, including delivery, will be £209.99 for members, versus £259.99 for non-members. Customers aren't obliged to buy a full case and can purchase just three bottles.

The estate produces around 4,000 bottles per year - although in 2011 it made 5,600 but only 2,600 in 2012.

Just 600 bottles are available, exclusively to Wine Club members, of Domaine of the Bee's first white wine FIeld of the Bee.

"I don't want this ever to be a very big project, but would look to slowly expand to 7,000 to 8,000 bottles per year over the next 10 years," Howard-Sneyd said.

He said having a wine club "gives confidence" to look for another vineyard if you're already selling your entire capacity.

This year, for the first time, the estate has produced a white wine, Field of the Bee. It has made only 600 bottles of the Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc blend, which will be available exclusively to its wine club members and delivered in September.  

The marketing campaign encourages customers to join the club with Hamlet-style entreaties based around "To bee or not to bee?".

It calls on customers to "take arms against a sea of boring wines, and by opposing, avoid them" by joining the club.