As I've mentioned in a previous post, one of my favorite hobbies is to go wine tasting, and expose visiting friends to wines they don't have access to back home. My friends are always shocked when I tell them that I belong to several wine clubs. I don't know why, but there seems to be this intimidating mystique about a wine club. So, I'm going to give you six reasons to join a wine club and hopefully shed some insight on to why it's a really good idea! I'm currently a member of 10 wine clubs, and have cycled in and out of a few more. Some clubs have variations in their offerings, so these statements are generalizations based on my experiences listening to wine club membership pitches and actually being a member.
#1: Joining a wine club typically doesn't cost anything! A lot of people I talk to think that joining a wine club means that you'll have to pay some hefty membership fee. That's not true at all! When you join a wine club, all you're doing is committing to a certain amount of shipments per year, at a discounted price. The discount is usually between 10-25%, and I'd say the average is 15-20%. Most clubs ship quarterly and there will be 2/3 bottles per shipment. Some wine clubs even offer free shipping. Many wineries have different tiers of membership when you can increase the amount of bottles you get in your shipment (some offer 6 or 12 bottles twice a year and typically there's a shipping break if you go this high), but typically you're going to get 2/3 bottles 4 times per year.
#2: Discounts on wine purchases not included in your shipment Drank all the wine in your shipment and have a hankering for some more? Most clubs give you discounts on their wine year round. I recently found out that one club that I'm a part of doesn't do this, so I cancelled promptly. That's a bit pompous if you ask me.
#3: You get access to wine that your local mega mart can't offer you Most of the better wine you can get isn't sold in your typical big box retailer. Wineries will sometimes make one varietal that they distribute and then keep single vineyard, top notch wine for sale at the winery only. At this point in my life, Pinot Noir is my favorite wine to drink, and I especially like the California style of Pinot Noir. My absolute favorite producer of Pinot Noir is Saintsbury. In 2011, Saintsbury produced close to 6,700 cases of their Carneros Pinot Noir. It's fine Pinot that's priced well and distributed across the country. The stuff you really want to try is their single vineyard Pinots, and those are typically only sold at the winery. My favorite Pinot is the Saintsbury Brown Ranch Pinot Noir. Only 683 cases of this wine are produced. You probably wouldn't have a chance to taste this juice if you weren't a wine club member.
#4: Free tastings and special events Most wine clubs will offer free tastings to wine club members and their guests. It's a bit tough to take advantage of this benefit if you don't live near the winery, but it's definitely a nice perk if you find yourself in the area of the winery often.
#5: Pick up parties and special events This is another one that's kind of tough if you don't live near your favorite wineries, but many wineries will have "pick up parties" when it's time to release a shipment. These parties are always so much fun. You get to meet other members, sometimes try some vintage wines and enjoy snacks from local eateries.
#6: Access to vintage and library wines When you're a wine club member, you're supporting the winery and their wine making initiative. Good wine clubs are super appreciative of their members. I love when I pop into one of the places where I'm a member and they surprise me with an older reserve, or some big bold Napa cab from many years past.
Have you ever joined a wine club? What's your experience?
About the Author: Larry is a friend of House Party. Larry currently resides in the East Bay region of California. He enjoys all things wine related, and spends a lot of his free time in Napa and Sonoma learning about wine. Larry is also a Mixed Martial Arts enthusiast. He enjoys practicing, watching, analyzing and commentating on all things MMA. Larry also enjoys cooking, fine dining, entertaining and hanging out with Maximus, his Jack Russell Terrier.