As the name suggests, Traveling Vineyard is a wine network marketing company. The idea is as simple as it comes – members are selling wine. More specifically, they're meant to act as guides, which is why distributors for the company are called Wine Guides.
There are some key advantages and disadvantages of making money selling wine. As Traveling Vineyard points out, wine has a large market with significant sales potential. You’re also promoting a consumable product, which is always ideal.
Wine can also seem overwhelming. People are faced with many different options when they visit local stores. This can be incredibly confusing for beginners and many people have no idea where to start. Even if a person finds a wine that they enjoy, they often don’t know enough to understand why they liked it or how to find other good bottles.
Traveling Vineyard offers this education. The wine parties also strongly promote sales. If attendees do find wines that they enjoy at a party, they’re likely to order them. The wine subscription option may be popular as well, especially for people who like experimenting.
On the negative side, wine is an extremely common product. The selection at grocery stores alone is huge and there are specialized stores out there as well. In contrast, Traveling Vineyard has a narrow selection of wine without much variation in rarity or price.
This means that competition is high. To make matters worse, you cannot ship wine to all parts of the country. The end result is that Traveling Vineyard is very audience-specific. It would be perfect for people who are fascinated by wine and don’t know very much. If that’s your audience then the company is competitive and the products could sell well.
However, if any of your contacts consider themselves wine experts or connoisseurs, Traveling Vineyard may seem too simplistic.
Honestly, this is true for any business. If you want to make money, the product selection must match your audience. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time. Because Traveling Vineyard is an MLM, you’re also focusing on people that you know personally. You may already have an idea about whether the products would work for them or not.
Two Ways To Make Money With Traveling Vineyard
Traveling Vineyard follows the traditional two ways that you can earn with an MLM. The first simply involves promoting the products and earning a commission from any sales.
The other aspect is more complicated. Here, you're aiming to recruit other people to become Wine Guides and build a team underneath you. In this post, I'm taking a detailed look at both of these areas, along with whether it is feasible to make regular income through Traveling Vineyard.
Traveling Vineyard is a direct sales company with a twist – you’re selling wine. This means the products on sale are just wine. There is a decent selection of these on the site, including wines from various different brands. The specific bottles also change over time, with new products being added and old ones being removed.
There are also bundles from time-to-time, based on the current season. As well as the wine, there are some related products on offer, including a decanter aerator, wine glass sleeves, and a bottle tote.
For each wine, the site offers information about what you can expect along with basic facts about where the wine comes from. The overall style makes the company a good way to learn more about wine and to broaden your palate.
Most of the wines on offer fall somewhere between $15 and $20 per bottle. So, you’re not looking at particularly rare or vintage bottles of wine. Some of the products could even be found in local stores and would typically be cheaper there.
Another interesting aspect is Rewined, which is the company’s wine subscription club. This must contain at least four bottles and can include current top sellers, as well as curated selections of wine. Customers have some choice over which types of wine they receive, although the actual bottles are determined by the company.
The subscription then delivers bottles to customers every other month. It’s not a bad way to go and alcohol subscription clubs can be very fun. Wine notes are also provided for each product, allowing customers to learn more as they go.
The price and selection of wine suggest that this company is best suited to casual wine drinkers and people who are just starting to experiment. In fact, the company also uses a system called Sommology that teaches people about wine and food pairing, along with the science behind it.
There is one other key aspect. Traveling Vineyard focuses exclusively on shipping wine to customers. This means that you need to be in a state that allows the wine to be shipped from retail stores. Some states just allow the wine to be shipped from the winery that creates it, not from third-party companies like Traveling Vineyard, while others don’t let wine be shipped at all.
This is something that you need to figure out early on. Traveling Vineyard itself offers surprisingly little information on the topic.
Traveling Vineyard seems to be light with their requirements. They don’t have much specific information but the site states that there are no monthly minimums or penalties for not hitting goals.
This suggests that you don’t have to sell a certain amount of product to stay active, which is good news. Many companies have that type of requirement and it can get frustrating fast. The idea could also mean you don’t have to buy any products yourself each month. But, that’s unclear. You may still have to make monthly purchases.
There is also a replicated website from the company, which is how you make sales. The site is free for the first three months. After that, you pay $15.95 per month.
In some ways, that’s not a lot of money. But, it’s still an ongoing cost that you have to cover. There’s also no reason it needs to be that high. Many other companies charge $10 a month or nothing at all. If you truly had your own site, the monthly costs normally average out to much less than that.
It's also worth noting that Traveling Vineyard just states that there are no minimums to remain as a distributor. There may still be sales minimums if you want to build a team.
The Party Approach
Like many companies, Traveling Vineyard operates through parties. In this case, they’re called tastings, for obvious reasons. The events are held at the house of a host. This host typically provides snacks for the event and the participants consist mostly of their friends and family.
Each new host will have their own social circle, including some different friends and family members. This gives the distributor access to a larger group of people, which increases the chance of sales.
Parties like this are incredibly common and people often get sick of them fast. But, with Traveling Vineyard people get something out of the experience, even if they don’t buy anything. This can increase the popularity of the events. The style also makes it easy to find people who are willing to host.
This all sounds amazing and is exactly how Traveling Vineyard markets their events.
Of course, someone has to pay for all the wine that is being tasted – and that’s the distributor. For each party, you have to bring the five wines that are being tasted, along with glassware and anything else that is needed. You might be able to use the same bottles at more than one event if they’re close enough together. Even so, the costs would add up fast.
If your parties are successful and you consistently make sales, then the wine you provide is basically a business expense. It may decrease your profit margin a little but having wine to taste is a key factor in making sales.
In fact, you can get free tasting sets for hitting sales targets in your events. This lowers your costs and means more income.
On the other hand, if you make a few sales at a party, it might end up costing money rather than making you anything. This is a serious problem with parties, especially once you have held multiple ones for the same audience. Parties are also time-consuming to organize and host, which is another reason for being wary.
This doesn’t mean that Traveling Vineyard is horrible. It just means you have to weigh up the risks and rewards carefully.
Is Traveling Vineyard A Good Business Opportunity?
For the right audience, the product selection could work well. So, what about making money?
As always, the main method is earning a commission from sales. This starts off at 15%, which is low for an MLM. It’s not uncommon to see rates of 25% or 30% right from the beginning. This rate does increase as you make sales.
Most people would probably end up the first two tiers, especially as the wine isn’t particularly expensive per bottle. Still, the commission is good enough if you’re making regular sales.
For Traveling Vineyard, your sales are made by submitting orders. This means you don’t need to buy bottles and then resell them. That mechanism is my personal favorite. Having to resell just adds on complexity and expenses that you don’t need.
There is also a team element. However, Traveling Vineyard doesn’t offer many specifics about this. They do say that you can earn more from building a team and from the success of your team members. But, there is little information about how this income is earned and what you have to do.
The company is probably right – the idea can ‘add up to serious money’. That’s the case for most MLMs. There is a catch though (isn’t there always?).
Regardless of the exact model, team building is tricky. You need to be able to recruit people into the company and then make sure that they can make sales and recruit as well. In the long-term, you’re normally aiming for a team that has at least 20 people of different generations, probably more.
The larger your team is, the more potential there is for income.
However, success isn’t just about size. You normally need to progress through ranks in the company and have your team members do the same. Each rank will require you to hit various targets, such as personal sales goals and team sales goals. If you do all this and get a decent way through, the income potential is high.
In practice, many people struggle to even recruit a few people. If nothing else, it takes time and effort to build a team and an income stream. You might have what it takes but many people in your social circle may not.
The company does mention that they offer training on wine tasting and also on team building and recruitment. This should make it easier to be successful – although there’s no way to know how good the training is.
Lack Of Transparency
Traveling Vineyard does have a program that looks appealing and they do an amazing job on their website as well. But, the lack of information is a problem.
At one point they had an online compensation plan, which is where some of the earlier screenshots in this review came from. However, the compensation plan isn't online anymore, so there are even fewer details to be found.
The idea is that you talk to a distributor and get the information that way. The company will even put you in touch with one. From experience, this is a bad pattern. Many MLM distributors don’t fully understand the company that they’re in and they’re also biased.