California wine clubs
Wine clubs have been around for the past fifty years, and have become an established part of the traditions of California wine. If you’re not familiar with them, think of them like a book-of-the-month club, but with wines instead of books. You buy a certain number of bottles a year, and they are delivered to your door. You get discounts and other benefits, including (with some clubs) information on the wine and the best foods to pair it with. There is (or should be) no cost to join, and you can cancel at any time.
Wine clubs pride themselves on their discernment and their ability to find quality lesser-known wines and bring them to members who might otherwise never taste them. They cater to everyone from the expert to the novice trying to become an expert. Some of the more famous wine clubs include the Gold Medal Wine Club, the International Wine of the Month Club, the Original Wine of the Month Club (as its name implies, the first wine club, founded by Paul Kalemkiarian in 1972), the Plonk Wine Club, Lot 18’s Tasting Room, Club W and Uncorked Ventures. Each of these has slightly different rules, methods and traditions.
Many wine clubs offer more than one series — wines grouped by theme and category. You might be able to choose to receive wines from the Pacific Northwest, aged Cabernets or the most highly rated wines in California. Tours and tastings will give you the opportunity to meet the winemakers and socialize with other wine lovers.
One complaint members sometimes have is of failing to receive their wine and being told that the club is waiting to get it from the winery. This can be avoided by joining a wine club that is itself associated with a particular winery. Wine clubs are like a backstage pass into the pageant that is California’s wine culture.
A wine club worth joining near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, has its own wine club. By agreeing to buy six bottles a year in groups of three, you can get Level I membership with discounts on their wines, tickets to parties and invitations to a complimentary tasting. Agreeing to buy 12 bottles a year, or 24, gets you higher levels of membership with even more benefits. Once you’ve chosen a membership level, buying additional bottles won’t count toward your annual allocation.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Join today.