Wine Club 101

Empire_State_Cellars-20140802-3So you’ve been to a winery or two, or seven.  You’ve tasted a few wines, even found a couple you really like.  You bought a bottle or two.  What’s next?

Let’s really think this through: you had a great time, really enjoyed the experience of tasting a few wines, of seeing the vineyards.  Why would you want to let this become a one-time experience?

Sure, you can come back some time in the future, taste a few more wines, buy another bottle.  There’s another option: Wine Club!

Wine club rules differ for each winery.  Most involve purchasing a case of wine in one year (averaged out that’s just one bottle per month).  For some there is no structure, you buy whichever wines suit you over the course of a year.  You can buy one today and three next month, so long as you make it to a dozen, when the privileges kick in – but more on that later.  Other wineries have specific events when you pick up your wine (pickup parties), and you’re usually getting 3-4 bottles, 3-4 times each year.  The same dozen, often at a discount from what you would have paid for the individual bottles.  The last type of wine club requires you to pay for all your wine in advance.  This is similar to buying futures, as you pick them up at scheduled intervals.

What are the benefit of Wine Club?  Well, to get totally cliché, the first rule of Wine Club is to talk about Wine Club!

You’ll get invited to pickup parties, get discounts on events at that winery, sometimes even get invitations to member-only events.  Most – but not all – pickup parties are the same: there’s some sort of food or nosh and the wines you’re getting in your shipment are being poured, usually by the glass, for you to enjoy.  Some of these parties get pretty elaborate, with multi-course meals cooked on premises by the owners (I’m looking at you Chris).  What they all share is that they are really enjoyable events attended by people who all share a love of the same winery, and the winery is recognizing that love and giving you some love in return.  You can often bring friends to these events, and when you visit the wineries on regular days, membership has it’s privileges.  In addition to discounts on purchases, you may receive a free tasting, not to mention the fact that the staff will get to know you as a member.

Worried that you can’t always get out to these events and won’t be able to attend a pickup party?  Fear not.  Most wineries will ship your wine after a week or two.

Why do the wineries do this?  By joining their wine club, you’ve guaranteed to them that you are a customer and will buy at least a case over the course of a year.  They really appreciate this and will show you the love.

Just one warning, and it will happen: you are going to discover another winery that you like.

Don’t panic, just join a second wine club.  Trust me, that first winery won’t accuse you of being unfaithful, and you’ll now get love from another winery.  This means twice as many winery parties!

But when this happens, you will start to notice a change in yourself.

Here are the symptoms that Wine Club is working:

When you’re invited to a dinner party at a friend’s house, rather than stopping at the liquor store you grab a bottle from your own “collection”.

You start having a glass of wine with dinner, at home, and not just on special occasions.

Friends come over and you open a bottle or two to share as you catch up.

You start to look at wine refrigerators in catalogues.  Trust us – buy one at least twice the size that you think you’ll need!

You realize that the winery experience that you loved so much that has followed you home.  You take it with you to friend’s homes.  When you hand them the bottle as you walk through their door, you mention where you got the bottle, because it represents sharing that experience: it’s special.

One weekend your friends call and ask for the name of that winery you love.  You hear yourself say, “I’ll take you there.”  And you introduce another person to the joys of Wine Club.


Wine Club 101 is the first in the series: Wine Club of the Month.  Our intention is to provide the details of a Wine Club roughly each month.  Mention in Wine Club of The Month is not an endorsement or accolade, it merely represents that we spoke with the wine club manager.

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