California wine country is one of our favorite U.S. destinations. Alan and I especially enjoy exploring small, family-run wineries where the owners share their enthusiasm and passion for wine making with visitors. And did I mention the fun of sampling handcrafted wines while listening to stories of how the winery came to be?
When The California Wine Club invited us to try their membership for a month, it was like taking a quick trip to California wine country. Since 1990, Bruce and Pam Boring have been handpicking artisan wines to introduce to members. Our month’s shipment included Victor Vineyards 2011 California Pinot Noir and Victor Vineyards 2012 Lodi Lawson Ranch Chardonnay — part of the Premier Series at The California Wine Club.
The wines were accompanied by the Uncorked Newsletter where we read about Robert Lawson and his family, owners of Victor Vineyards in Lodi, California. The newsletter also included information on each wine including awards, aromas and palate, appelation, final blend, how long to hold it and meal pairings. We also learned how many cases were produced, the retail price and the price for reordering from The California Wine Club, which is at a substantial discount.
For instance, our favorite — Victor Vineyards 2011 California Pinot Noir — retails for $21 but can be reordered through the club at $11.99. Yes, we’ll be reordering this one.
Alan and I also learned that 80% of wine sold in stores is produced by three large wine corporations. That’s because artisan wines are produced in limited quantities making it impractical to sell in local wine shops or grocery stores. According to Bruce and Pam Boring, “Small production, artisan wineries can handcraft wines in ways that are just not possible at large corporate wineries. It makes a difference you can taste in every glass.”
When visiting wineries, we find it hard to make a decision right on the spot, especially with several wineries to visit during a trip. And a variety of wines appeal to us rather than belonging to just one winery’s club. That’s where the beauty of The California Wine Club comes in. At $35 per month for the Premiere Series, we’ll receive two bottles a month (one red, one white) from a small winery that’s been vetted by the Borings, with the option of purchasing more of the wines we like at a discounted price.
What we like about The California Wine Club:
- No membership fee.
- 100% guarantee if we don’t like the wine — money back or new bottle.
- Variety of wines and price points. There are 4 levels in the wine club.
- Members can choose all red or all white rather than a mix of wines.
- Traveling? Request a hold on shipments until you return home.
- Cancel at anytime.
- Reorder winesby the half case (6) or case (12). Mixing and matching is allowed.
The club offers 4 levels of membership:
California Wine Premier Club: two bottles of award-winning wine from small California wineries. Price $39.95 plus shipping (monthly).
The Signature Series: two bottles of upper level California boutique wines, mostly reds, with 90+ ratings. Price $124 plus shipping (monthly).
International Series: two bottles of handcrafted wines from around the world, mostly reds. Price $71 plus shipping (monthly)
The Aged Cabernet Series: two bottles of finely aged Napa Valley Cabernets. Recommended by the Robb Report. Price $207 plus shipping (monthly)
Pacific Northwest: two bottles (one white, one red) handselected from small award-winning wineries in Oregon and Washington. Price $77 plus shipping (monthly)
Alan and I have been looking to join a wine club for a long time. We think we’ve finally found one that works for us.
Do you subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet newsletter? In September’s edition, The California Wine Club is offering 15% off anything on their site (good for memberships, cases and re-orders). Interested? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Disclosure: The California Wine Club provided a month’s membership for our review. We liked the wines, and the club’s policies, enough to join on our own dime.