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Is American Cellars Wine Club a Scam?

American Cellars Wine ClubWe've been getting a lot of questions lately about American Cellars Wine Club and whether it is a scam. We have now reviewed the actual club plus have done some research on the negative reviews we found online. What have we found? Keep reading and we will share all of our research with you.

What is American Cellars Wine Club?

American Cellars Wine Club is the flagship wine club of the brand Vinesse. They have participated in a number of rewards and points clubs (like the Delta Frequent Flier program or the American Airlines program), so their name is fairly well-known across many shoppers. They offer both wine clubs as well as sales of wine by the bottle. Their website says that they are “one of the largest and most respected wine clubs in the country.” The American Cellars Wine Club is one of many clubs offered by Vinesse and is their most affordable club.

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Our Experience with American Cellars Wine Club

American Cellars Wine Club

We were sent a shipment of the wine club to try for ourselves and also tried a number of the other clubs that Vinesse offers. We didn't experience any problems with billing, shipping, etc. In fact, we found it was quite easy to get in touch with people at Vinesse about their clubs. As for the wine itself, the wine in the American Cellars Wine Club breaks down to about $7 per bottle and they market the bottles as being a retail of between $10 and $15. If you want a higher quality of wine, you should try one of their other higher-end clubs such as their Pinot Noir Wine Club.

I received a nice assortment of different wines in my shipment including:

  • 2013 Old School Lane Cellars California Chardonnay
  • 2013 Gracenote Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2014 Vendaval Mendoza, Argentina Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2013 Alerys Utiel-Requena, Spain Bobal Rose
  • 2013 Scoperta Puglia, Italy Aglianico di Puglia

Each bottle came with about a half page of tasting notes that includes the background of the wine, the grape composition, how the wine was aged, when you should drink it, and food pairing suggestions. Scores for their tasting panel ranged from 89 to 92 points.

What Do Shoppers Say about American Cellars Wine Club?

As for the quality of the wine, we have found mixed reviews, but that is often the case when it comes to wine. What one person loves another person will hate. What's more important is whether you personally enjoy the wine. You will only know that if you make a purchase yourself.

As for their business practices, we found 14 complaints on Ripoffreport.com over the course of over 3 years. Most of them revolve around credit card charges for allegedly unauthorized purchases, cancellations that were not processed,  and irregular shipping fees/schedules. This is often the case when people are making purchases through points programs just to get points. They don't read the fine print to understand the actual terms of the offer and then get angry when they are shipped more than they expected.

The Better Business Bureau in Santa Barbara gives them a B+. Their score was lowered because of “Advertising/Sales Issues” and “Problems with Product/Service”. The BBB didn't lower their score considerably given those claims, so they must consider it to be an acceptable number of claims based on the volume of sales and the way that American Cellars Wine Club resolved the claims. How a company resolves claims plays a HUGE part in whether we would recommend them.

We reached out to them for contact information in the event that any of our readers have any problems. For help with memberships and orders, members have had success calling their toll-free customer service at 800-823-5527 from 6 AM to 5 PM Pacific Time, Monday – Friday or via email, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by emailing service@vinesse.com.

Should You Buy From American Cellars Wine Club?

If you are ordering the club just to get the travel points or whatever rewards are being offered, set your expectations accordingly. Just be sure to read all of the fine print on the offer and watch your credit card carefully. The most complaints seem to come from people who purchased this way. I'm never an advocate of buying something to get points unless it was something that I would have bought anyway.

What if you are ordering it because you are truly looking for a great wine club?

We've had great success with their Light and Sweet Wine Club as well as their Sparkling Wine Club. Vinesse offers types of clubs that you will not find anywhere else. Our experience with them for those two clubs has been very positive. In addition, all of our communications with the company have been great.

If you are interested in a wine club for yourself or a as a gift, we invite you to take a look at our Top Red Wine Clubs, Top White Wine Clubs, and Top Mixed Wine Clubs. Most of our reviews include information such as shipping costs, how easy it was to cancel, the quality of the wine, and how the club compares to other clubs.

Have you had any experience with American Cellars Wine Club?

21 Comments
  1. Reply
    Kevin May 10, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I signed up upon getting an email from Vinesse promoting that they were working with American Airlines and would give me 2000 miles after the first month and 3000 miles after the second month.

    The first shipment arrived as promised and I did receive the 2000 miles for the first month. However, they double charged my credit card. When I called them to report this, they said I must have hit submit twice by accident when I signed up for the club. Maybe, but the only problem with this theory is that they only sent me one shipment of wine, not 2 shipments like they say I accidentally signed up for.

    It seemed like they just double charged me hoping I wasn’t checking my credit card statement and hoping I wouldn’t notice.

    They did refund the money for the double charge. Then I received the second month’s shipment. The shipping charge was very high so I decided to cancel my membership since it wasn’t worth paying $130 a month for 6 bottles of mediocre wine.

    They never gave me the 3000 bonus miles for the second month’s shipment of wine even though I received and paid for the wine. I have called several times and even though the representatives were polite and said they would look into it, they refused to give me the 3000 miles as promised for the second month.

    Finally, AA decided to reimburse me the miles from their end since they felt bad that a company they were affiliated with had cheated me.

    Do not order anything from this company as they will try to scam you, not reward you as promised, and send you overpriced and mediocre wine.

  2. Reply
    Leora July 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I have had a great experience with American Cellars Wine Club. They have done what they said they were going to do. I have had 5 shipments of wine and enjoyed all but one bottle of wine.

  3. Reply
    Roger November 23, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Hello, I recently move to Brasil and I would like to continuo purchasing my wine from you guys, what’s the possibilities of delivering here in Brazil?
    Thank you.

    • Reply
      tricia November 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Roger,

      We actually are not the wine club itself. We just review the clubs. You will need to contact them directly for subscription information.

      Tricia

  4. Reply
    Tina Sandoval July 29, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I have been a member on and off for many years due to moving in and out of the country. I have enjoyed every bottle received red or white. I have been disappointed at times when I could not get more of a particular bottle. Customer service is a pleasure. I would recommend this club for the novice as well as the more experienced wine connoisseur.

  5. Reply
    eugene holly October 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I would like to orderer your Special Introductory 6 BOTTLES WINES RED WINES AND THE FREE GIFT 2 BOTTLES OF PINOT NOIRS. for 49 .00$ However I cannot find any email address or phone numbers to do it. Please help me to do it

    Eugene Holly MD

  6. Reply
    Mike June 29, 2016 at 11:57 am

    I experienced a similar problem recently when ordering a gift. The party
    who was the recepient of the gift was sent an additional order without my request & was told he was now a member. I was billed for 2 orders although only 1 was received. The recepient had to call to cancel his so called membership. When I called to speak with a CS rep I was put through a verbal confrotation re the clubs policy of automatic shipment w/o notification to the party who in their opinion is billed for the shipment. I finally was advised to reject the shipment, however when I asked to spreak with a Mgr. was told UNAVAILABLE & would get back to me.

  7. Reply
    Bryan gilles October 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    I received my first shipment and everything was great. Got the wine and a free gift. Now the problem pours in. We get a letter that looks like junk mail from them. Well they operate under 2 different names so opening your mail becomes ever important when you have membership based stuff.

    Now here comes the part that shows how the scam works. The letter says you have to OPT OUT of an extra shipmement for the holidays!!!

    So if you don’t opt out you will be shipped $96 worth of wine on top of your $130 shipment they are already sending you. How can shady practices like this not be considered scamming your customers/victims? Forcing them into a product they aren’t asking for.

  8. Reply
    John October 12, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    I joined received my first two shipments. I was a member of American Cellars and the wine was about what I could get locally for about $3 – $6 a bottle. Almost made it to 2 buck chuck quality.
    After I was notified on a shipment the following month I cancelled. They charged me $30 to cancel. They are NOT my idea of an honest company.

  9. Reply
    Donald hoff April 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I am trying to cancel my account, please get me some assistance!

    • Reply
      Rachel cook June 22, 2018 at 10:16 am

      I want to cancel my subscriptio. Can not reach anyone.

      • Reply
        tricia June 25, 2018 at 10:18 am

        You can cancel your subscription through Customer Service:

        Monday through Friday, 6:00 am – 4:00 pm PST
        800-823-5527

  10. Reply
    Greg Meyer June 12, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    I got a snail mail offer that had the regular club membership for 6 bottles of wine for $49.99. They would throw in two bottles of Pinot Noir… pretty good deal. What made it a great deal was the attached letter that said if I ordered now, I would get a free gift… a table top Opener with stand.

    I called in and had the order all ready to go when they read back to me would would be sent out, they didin’t include the opener. I called them on it and they said that that was another offer and I needed another member# and code # in order to get that. When I explained that it all came in the same envelope with only the member and code numbers attached, they went on to say there was no table top opener being offered.

    I would say this is a bait and switch… will they do the same with their wine?? Needless to say, I declined their offer. I bet I can do about as well, if not better, at the grocery store, when you consider the club charges $96 for 6 bottles of wine PLUS SHIPPING. That’s got to be around $110 all together, which comes to about $18 per bottle of wine. You can get some pretty nice wine for $18 here in town. Think about it…

    • Reply
      tricia August 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Greg,

      I think the issue is that they run a lot of different promotions in a lot of different places. I just noticed that the current one we have is $41.94 for 6 bottles plus a six-piece wine tote with your third shipment. They seem to switch them up pretty regularly (similar to Wall Street Journal Wine Club and a couple of others that we have reviewed). So I guess it depends which link you are clicking through or which flyer you get. Sorry you didn’t have a good experience but we appreciate you leaving your feedback for others!

  11. Reply
    Joseph October 25, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Shifty to say the least. I ordered the special offer of 6 bottles for $29.99 + 9.99. and they would throw in FREE a table top opener. Today I look at my CC statement and see I was charged $120.00 & change, for what I have yet to receive – That is $20.00 a Fricken bottle if I get 6. Ain’t worth it. How may will I get for that?? Will I get the table top opener? They said it is only for new members and reminded me that I had canceled my member ship some time back. READ the fine print – and it is darn fine print. I am out of this fleecing group and any other wine club,

    • Reply
      tricia October 25, 2017 at 12:52 pm

      I think this is a good caution for any wine club. There is always going to be some kind of fine print about autoshipments or shipping charges or things like that. The one thing I would suggest if you ever want to get another wine club is that there are some where you can prepay for just the number of months that you want. Then at the end of what you have pre-paid, the shipments just stop. It’s the best way to give gifts and a good way to make sure you are not getting autobilled if you miss an email or reminder or renewal notice.

  12. Reply
    Joseph February 21, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Tricia:

    There is more to this it involves money and deception. Let’s call it bait and switch. They claimed I had to pay the extra because I had ordered and received previously and there for I was not entitled to the cheaper price, nor the table top bottle opener. Had they refused my order and returned my money it would be OK. But instead some how added $100.00 to my CC payment. I think that may also qualify as stealing. I wonder how many others got ripped off this way by these husslers. Probably a class action suit waiting for some clever make a name for them selves, lawyer might jump on this.

    Also with my first order I got a table top opener, but it don’t work, in fact can’t get the pieces to fit. Looks impressive tho.

  13. Reply
    Joseph February 21, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    One more thing, If I had canceled my previous membership, I should be a new member this time and entitled to the offer. NO??

  14. Reply
    Sarah March 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Worse than a scam. All six bottles were in very same bottle, with bottle co stamp identical, but each one had different wine labels and so called different wines, cabernet, malbec and alianico, from Argientina, Australia, and Italy. These six wines were all obviously bottled at same place, probably same wine. Worse than scam, illegal as hell!!

  15. Reply
    Joshua April 4, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    YUK YUK YUK. I literally opened ech bottle one after the other, tasted them and dumped them down the drain. I’ve tried a half dozen clubs over the last couple years and have never had a problem. These wines are bottom of the barrel garbage. I wouldn’t even recommend these with crappy pizza. I never knew how bad wine could be. Thanks for nothing but wasted time and money

  16. Reply
    Dalton May 27, 2018 at 11:50 am

    I have received two shipments of wine from American Cellers and have been disappointed in the quality of the wine for the price that they charge. I contacted customer service to request that they not ship me any more wine, they replied that they would move my next shipment to the end of 2018. I stated that I did not want purchase any more of their wine period.
    I will call customer service again and follow up with an email to document my request to cancel my membership to their club due to below average quality wine.

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