Wine Clubs: How to Pick One

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Most wineries are considered small businesses. Personally, I like supporting small businesses and I want the ones I love to do well.

When it comes to wineries, one of the best ways to do that is through their wine clubs. Just about every winery has some sort of wine club. Most often, you sign up and the winery picks a few wines for you every month or every quarter and you can go get them or they mail them to you.

No lie, it took me and my husband 9 years to figure out which winery we wanted to have a membership to. We went to a lot of GREAT wineries! A good problem to have, I think. Hopefully, it won’t take you as long. Here are a few tips to help you to evaluate various wine clubs.

  1. Make sure you like at least 90% of their wine. Your wine club picks will come from their tasting menu along with a few that aren’t available to the public. If you only like one or two of a list of say 8 wines, that’s not enough for you to get a membership. Some wineries let you pick whites, reds, sweets, or a mix. The particular winery club we joined does a fantastic job with reds, which accounts for most of their tasting. Their whites are hit or miss. So we picked the “Reds Only” option and have been quite pleased.
  2. Quantity. How much wine can you drink? How often do they ship? If you aren’t drinking that much wine, make sure you have a good place to store it properly. I typically have about 6 or 7 bottles of wine on hand. Various kinds. If I am getting 3 or 4 bottles a month, I need to make sure I’m enjoying at least a few bottles every month.
  3. Pricing. While this is not super expensive, it’s a line item in your budget. It can be right around $100 a month. Are you willing to spend that every month? You benefit the most with a long, sustained membership. Some wineries let you skip months or hold the wine for a specific amount of time. Be sure to ask about that.
  4. Other perks. Besides the wine shipment itself, you get to enjoy other perks. Free tastings, exclusive member events, discounts on food and public events. Wineries are really getting creative with wooing members. They know that you can always take your business elsewhere, so they try to make membership very attractive by rolling out the red carpet.
  5. Ambiance of the winery. Do you want to hang out there? One of your perks might be a members-only area or discounts on food. If you like hanging out there, this can be a great place to entertain friends and family.

I recommend not deciding on a membership until you’re all-the-way sober. I worked at a winery and I can’t tell you how many people I sold wine club memberships to that were a little tipsy right after a 10-wine tasting (with generous pours!). You’ll want to evaluate the winery after you’ve gone home and had some time to think and sober up.

I know people that are members of several wineries. This is my goal. Hell, it took me 9 years to decide on ONE winery, give me time to pick other ones.