Next time you are debating about whether or not to join wine clubs, consider the amount of access you’ll receive with a wine club membership.
Wine Clubs Equal Exclusive Access
Having just attended the Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting weekends, I was reminded how many perks are offered to wine club members. One of my fellow tasters asked me if I belonged to any wine clubs and why. After answering that question, I decided it was time to share my thoughts on belonging to wine clubs.
Access to Wines
If wine clubs are all about access, and wineries are all about wine, then it is logical that joining a wine club provides you with access to limited-production wines. If a winery’s case production is too low to make every wine available to their entire mailing list or everyone who walks into their tasting room, a newly released wine might only go to wine club members. This is the number one reason to join to a wine club—access to the wines you love.
Some wineries produce wines exclusively for their club members. Other wineries might give the wine club first dibs on a new release, and if there is any wine remaining after the club members have gotten their fill, then the wine might be released to the general public, or poured in a tasting room. But, is that a risk you are willing to take for a wine you really love?
If you adore a particular wine, and access to it is limited, joining the club is the logical step to take.
Access to People and Events
Belonging to a wine club puts you in the inner circle, and you might find yourself tasting with the winemaker, owner, or the owner’s family members. This might happen in a tasting room setting, at a wine club event or pick-up party, at a winemaker dinner in the cellar, or on a wine club cruise!
This access also allows you more information about the wines you enjoy. Wineries have a lot of information about their vineyard practices, cellar methods, and the nuances of the wine in the bottle. Although some of this information might be on their website or wine fact sheets, the subtleties of a wine are generally only shared one-on-one in conversation.
As mentioned above, the access to a winery’s winemaker, owner, family members, or staff happens at events. Most wineries offer several exclusive wine-club-only events. Examples are:
- A Saturday wine club pick-up party, where you can tastes the wines in the current shipment, plus other current releases.
- A wine club only event the Friday night before one of the major Wine Road events—Winter Wineland, Barrel Tasting, or Wine & Food Affair—giving you access without dealing with large crowds.
- Wine club luncheons or dinners held in the cellar, in a vineyard, or the winery’s picnic grounds.
- Vineyard tours
- Grape stomps
- Seminars on how to prune grapevines or blend a wine.
Some wineries host extra special activities for club members like going to a professional ball game, having a cruise on San Francisco Bay, taking a river cruise down the Rhine, or a cruise that explores the coastline of Alaska.
During large public events, many wineries will have a separate section for club members only, again allowing members access to additional wines without being among the crowd.
Select Your Own Shipments
If you don’t like the traditional wine club model where the winery selects the wines in your club shipments, there is a solution for that. Many wineries now offer a “select your own shipment” option. Sometimes, a “select your own wines” club has a larger commitment to the number of bottles or cases you are sent annually. But, if you love the wines, receiving more of it should be an incentive to sign up for the club.
Access At Your Doorstep
If you like having wine on hand, but are too busy to go shopping, don’t know what to buy, or can’t find what you want in your local wine shop, then joining wine clubs is the ideal solution. Again, it is just logical to have the winery automatically ship you the wines you already love to drink, and you don’t have to think about running out of the wines you enjoy. You just have to sign up for the wine club, and then drink your favorite wines without the hassle of shopping or keeping your cellar stocked.
Access to Special Pricing
Along with all these other perks, most wineries offer discounts on club shipments and additional wine purchases. The range of discounts varies from winery to winery, and also the club option you select. If you select a club option where you get four bottles three times a year, you might get less of a discount than if you select the option where you get 12 bottles (one case) twice a year. Periodically, club member might also be offered complimentary shipping, which is the perfect time to stock up.
Everyone Knows Your Name
Like Norm on Cheers, we all like to be acknowledged when we walk into a room. Belonging to a wine club means you belong to a family or tribe, and the winery owner and staff want to treat you as a member of their wine family. When you visit a tasting room, it is like going back home to a family who wants to see you again.
The next time you find a wine you love, think about joining the producing winery’s wine club. You will be delighted by more than just access to the wines you enjoy.