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Join the Club: Wine Clubs

Aug 17, 2007
One of the best ways to get access to great, and sometimes less accessible, wines is to join a wine club. These clubs are free to join and can result in you enjoying a greater variety of wines. Whether retailer operated, or direct through the winery, wine clubs will enhance your wine drinking pleasure.

The first consideration for most consumers is price. Just know that there are a range of wine clubs to meet most consumer tastes and budgets. Being in a wine club does not necessitate spending big money. As an example K&L Wine Merchants in San Francisco has a wine club that will ship you 2 bottles of wine per month for $17.95. For that price you have the advantage of knowledgeable experts picking out wines that they feel represent excellent value.

At the other end of the range is Vintners Collective in Napa. Their wine club, the Collectors Club, ships 8 bottles of wine 5 times per year for $290 per shipment. This wine club specializes in smaller production wineries (generally under 1200 cases per year) with whom they have excellent relationships. The result is wine from vintners that you will likely not see on the shelf of your local wine retailer.

Another consideration is whether to go with a winery direct club vs. a retailer. Ideally, budgets permitting, we recommend both clubs that are owned and operated by the winery and clubs that are run by retailers. We like the idea of getting a preferred spot on one of our favorite wineries distribution lists in addition to the variety that the retail club offers. As an example, take a look at Justin Vineyards and Winery. This Central Coast maker of excellent red and white wine has a few different wine clubs. They offer a choice of red only or white only or mixed cases and will give you access to wines that disappear quite quickly. As an example we recently received a shipment containing one of our favorites, Justin Justification. This wine was sold out even prior to the wine shipment. So in this case only wine club members had an opportunity to receive this great wine which was available only in limited supply.

In the case of a retailer wine club, we like the idea of knowledgeable experts selecting great wines that have excellent value. Most times these are wines that would never appear on our radar no matter how much we read to keep up. Retail wine clubs often have connections with wineries that provide exceptional values. As in example K&L Wines recently offered a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from a well respected Napa producer for under $35. This same wine at the winery was $100. We like the idea of being able to buy an outstanding vintage, 1997, from an outstanding vintner at a most fair price. The case outlined here would not be possible outside of the wine club.

Before committing to a wine club make sure you understand the frequency of the shipments and the length of the membership. Some clubs welcome your membership on an annual basis and will ship four times per year. Other clubs will accommodate monthly membership, frequently with a minimum number of months. Choose the club that best fits both your budget and your consumption. If you have limited storage space and your frequency of delivery is too high from too many clubs, well you may have a great problem!

Additional perks of wine clubs often include: free shipping (depending on the state), discounts on retail purchases and/or future wine purchases, first access to newly released wine, admission to special events reserved for wine club patrons, complementary wine tasting, and discounts at local hotels, inns or restaurants.

Wine clubs present beginners and collectors access to great wines, selected by professionals, at a host of price points that will only enhance your wine experience.
About the Author
R. Adam Shore writes about California Wines from a consumer point of view. A collector of California Cabernet and a resident of the Golden State he has assembled hand selected articles about wine. They are cellared at California Wine Articles
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