If you’ve visited a winery lately, or paid any attention at all to the wine industry, you’ve heard of a wine club. There are more and more club options popping up in all areas as well as solely internet based options. So what’s the deal? Are they worth it? What do you get? Aren’t they expensive?
The answers to those questions are all based on preference. Each club is different, though they mostly follow the same idea, and offers something unique for members. Clubs run by the winery itself often include complimentary tastings for you when you visit, invitations to exclusive events and/or access to very limited production wines. With each payment/shipment, clubs offer anywhere from 2 bottles to a half case and sometimes even a full case, though the last option is much harder to find. The frequency of payments/shipments varies by club. Most commonly I’ve seen quarterly clubs but I also know of a number that are monthly or offer the option for you to choose how often you’d like to receive a shipment with options between quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly. Larger clubs and wineries often offer options like all whites, all reds or a combo of both while others simply decide what you’re getting each time based on what they feel is their best wine available at the time.
Currently, I belong to two very different clubs and love them both.
One is through a local Maryland winery which I’ve grown extremely fond of. My fiancé gifted me the membership to Boordy’s Landmark Club for my birthday 2 years ago which originally sparked my interest in wine clubs. The club option I am signed up for includes 3 bottles every quarter. Boordy has three different lines of wine, the Landmark series, the icon series and the just-for-fun series. The Landmark is their ‘nicer’ or higher-end wines which are limited in production so they are the only ones you receive in your club packages. When signing up you can choose whether you will receive 3 or 6 bottles but do not have a red or white option as each package varies and can include any combination of white, red, rose or port. As a member of their Landmark club I am able to visit the winery and receive a complimentary Landmark Series tasting for myself and three friends as often as I like, discounts on wine purchases and the freedom to cancel whenever I want (like that will happen…). Each quarter Boordy hosts a pick-up event for the club which included tastings, small food options (think cheese, bread, soup), a food truck, live music and a unique special event. The special event has ranged from barrel tastings to vertical port tastings paired with chocolates to the chance to taste fresh squeezed chardonnay grapes before they are turned to wine followed by a sample of chardonnay. Each time I’ve learned something about the wine-making process and furthered my exploration of wine. If you cannot attend the event they will hold your wine and the winery or ship it to you.
The other club I’m currently a member of is The California Wine Club which has been around for 25 years now. They have 5 club level options which allow you to explore a variety of wines from small family owned wineries in various locations around the globe. I joined the International Series club because I wanted to opportunity to try wines from around the world that I would not be able to find in any stores around the US. The California wine club allows you to select all white, all red or a mix as wells as shipment frequencies of monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. One thing I love is that I can change my mind at any time, all I have to do is call and request that my shipping frequency or bottle preference be changed and they take care of it right away. When I need to be more budget conscious I get quarterly shipments, when I’ve got extra money in the budget I can switch to bi-monthly shipments. Now, don’t go calling all the time and be ‘that person’ constantly changing your mind but know that if you sign up for an option and realize it’s not what you wanted to expected, they will help get you into the right arrangement. Another thing I love about this club is the information they send along with your shipment. Since it is internet based and you don’t actually get to pick your wine up from the winery, each package includes a printed edition of ‘Uncorked’ which gives you all kinds of information about the winery, the family who owns and runs it, the history and details on what wine you’ve received including tasting notes and food pairings. I’ve only belonged to the International club for about a year and have consistently received wonderful wines from places like Germany, Austria and Australia. Uncorked came in very hand when the labels weren’t in English! If there is ever a bottle that you absolutely hate you can call to let them know and they will replace it for you, how awesome is that? Talk about a guaranteed way to ensure your money is well spent. As a member of any of their club levels, you have access to order any wines they distribute at a discounted rate, though occasionally very limited productions are limited to only members of the club to which the wine was sent. The prices are fabulous and they often run sales, promotions and free shipping options. The only down side is that when ordering bottles you must order a half case (note this is for individual orders NOT for wine club shipments). Overall this is a great club for exploring wines you may not otherwise get your hands on! They even reward you with $100 for referals, so if you think you’d like to join comment below (or email me) with your email and I’ll send you a link!
So that’s the deal. Do some exploring and see what clubs interest you. Check with local wineries, any wineries you visited during a trip and loved or even online! If you gravitate towards wine from a certain region, research wineries in that area and see if they have club options. The possibilities are endless and there is something out there for every wine lover in every price range, you just have to look!