Looking for a gift for a wine lover on your list? The California Wine Club could be a good option! Or maybe you simply want to sign up for yourself. This article reviews our experience with the club and benefits to joining. Disclosure: We are a California Wine Club affiliate, and would earn a commission if you choose to purchase using a link provided. We chose to promote the club after testing it ourselves.
The California Wine Club was founded in 1990, seeking to connect smaller family wineries with consumers.
I certainly appreciate the focus on smaller wineries, as they often produce high quality wines at a very reasonable price. They tend to put more of their budget into making good when rather than marketing.
Wine Club Levels
The California Wine Club has five levels of membership to choose from, with a lot of flexibility regarding frequency of delivery, number of bottles each shipment, and more. The levels are:
- Premier Series, starting at $40.95, with a pair of bottles from California wine country.
- Signature Series, with prices beginning at $134, brings a selection of upper level California wines.
- International Series brings options from around the world, starting at $71.
- Aged Cabernet Series provides you with aged Napa Cabernets for a starting price of $231.
- Pacific Northwest brings wine from Oregon and Washington state for $77.
I decided to try the Premier Series, which is the Club’s most popular option, along with the Pacific Northwest. I enjoy Washington and Oregon wines — especially Willamette Pinot — so I figured this would be a good option to try along with the basic California offering.
Our membership is set up to alternate between a shipment of Premier one month, and Pacific Northwest the other. I get four bottles with the Premier shipment — two red, two white– in part to get free shipping. I’m a big fan of free shipping!
Overall, we have enjoyed most of the wines that we have sampled. In addition to wines you might typically expect from California wine country, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, you do get to try a good variety of wines.
For instance, our latest Northwest shipment featured an Albariño and a Tempranillo from Washington state producer Palencio. Both of these grapes are typically associated with Spain. But if the 2017 El Viñador Wahluke Slope Tempranillo is any indication, the Spanish grapes do well in Washington! We had the Tempranillo the other night, and I look forward to trying the Albariño.
Some of the other favorites I’ve enjoyed from the California Wine Club include:
- Bargetto Monterey Pinot Grigio
- Lost River Winery Cabernet & Chardonnay (Washington)
- Fulcrum Wines Sierra Foothills Tempranillo
I wanted to test the wine club long enough to get a good sample size of the experience, to determine if I wanted to promote the club here on Cooking Chat. Based on our experience, I think the California Wine Club could make a very good gift for wine lovers on your list. You might also consider gifting it to yourself!
Benefits I see include:
- Variety of quality wines, shipped to your door.
- Access to wines from smaller, family producers. This is especially helpful to anyone that doesn’t have ready access to a local shop that carries such wineries.
- Opportunity to re-order the wines you like at a price significantly lower than the winery retail rate. (I need to take advantage of this more regularly!)
- Education materials that accompany each shipment, in the form of the club’s Uncorked publication. This provides an opportunity to learn more about the wineries included in the month’s shipment.
- Great customer service. I have been very impressed with the responsiveness and helpfulness of the customer service team. Definitely an important consideration if you are considering an ongoing relationship with any company!
As a fairly experience wine consumer and blogger, I’ve been enjoying my California Wine Club membership. But I think the membership is especially well-suited for two groups of people:
- Looking to learn more about different wines? I recall early in my wine journey, wanting to branch out beyond the usual suspects, it could be a bit intimidating to go into a wine shop and pick out an unfamiliar wine. Joining the California Wine Club could be a great way for you or someone on your list to expand the range of wines you enjoy and enhance your knowledge, from the comfort of your home.
- Limited wine shop access: In the Boston area, I have the benefit of having several nearby wineshops with knowledgable staff that carry a diverse selection of wines, including from smaller producers. But I have travelled enough to know there are lots of places in the US where the main place to buy wine is a grocery store or other large liquor store. Yes, you can find wine, but mostly from large producers that are putting their money into marketing more than the vineyard. I would definitely encourage anyone interested in wine without a reliable local quality wine shop to consider membership.
Giving the Club as a Gift
With Christmas just two weeks away as a write this, we are down to the wire for getting those gifts!
You still have time to purchase a California Wine Club membership as a gift. To start out, choose the wine club level that you want to gift, and click to get more information. May you want to go with the basic Premier Series to get them started ($40.95 per each regular two bottle shipment) or maybe the Aged Cabernet Series for that special wine lover on your list.
Select the “Give a Gift” option to start purchasing the Club as a gift. For an extra $14, you can have a special gift announcement sent to you or the recipient, which should arrive in 3 to 4 business days. That way, if you order soon this should arrive by Christmas, with the wines to follow in January.
You can also choose how many shipments you want to give as a gift, anywhere from 1 to 12. This way, you can gift someone wine shipments for the whole year, just one shipment or anywhere in between. The flexibility is really a great part of the California Wine Club.
As I mentioned before, the Club’s customer service is great. So if you are interested in gifting Club membership or getting it for yourself, just hop onto the California Wine Club‘s website to learn more and contact them with any question.