Guest Column: Joining the Club
By Tamara Belgard
Today’s wine clubs offer members a great deal more than merely complimentary tastings, seasonal parties and wine discounts. It’s like being a part of the inner circle.
Club members are often made to feel like part of the family (receiving things like holiday cards and gifts), but with so many wine clubs to choose from, it might be hard to determine which family is the right fit for you. And since this is one time where you actually get to choose your family instead of it picking you, that decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. The following list outlines some of the benefits, beyond discounts and shindigs, local wineries are extending members that might trigger an inner desire to join.
Unlike many relationships in life, many wineries actually allow members to select their level of commitment. For instance, Archery Summit, Brooks Wines, R. Stuart, WillaKenzie Estate, Trisaetum, Lemelson, Raptor Ridge, Stoller Family Estate, Colene Clemens and Cana’s Feast Winery all offer different tiers of membership — from as few as two bottles to a case — leaving the decision and control about how much wine to purchase in members’ hands.
Some wineries, like Ponzi Vineyards, Brooks, Bergström and R. Stuart, combine the food and wine experience, helping members build a wine-friendly cookbook with thoughtful and mouthwatering recipes for pairing their wines with food.
Other wineries focus on the wine country experience. Coeur de Terre and Dominio IV, for example, offer discounts on memorable wine country lodging, and the Trisaetum Wine Club entitles members to discounts from their esteemed art gallery.
Places such as White Rose, Penner-Ash, Coeur de Terre and Lenne Estate offer first access to many limited productions wines, while Raptor Ridge goes one step further. Membership in the Raptor Ridge Flight Club guarantees members a vote in their “Democracy Challenge” — even if they talk about it — giving members a choice between three possible premium Pinot blends. The winning blend, called “Flight Club Select,” is exclusive to members. This year, fewer than 50 cases of that wine were produced.
Scott Paul Wines offers a very unique program focusing on providing its members with wine education and adventure. Scott Paul Wines imports Burgundy and Champagne from top-rated “indie” French producers and then offers members a different theme each shipment. Along with the wines, they provide background information, history, maps, geology and tasting notes giving context to what that selection is meant to explore.
If you love Oregon wine and have ever considered joining a wine club, now’s the time for action. You’ll not only enjoy tremendous savings on great wines, you’ll also experience many additional perks. Join the club, and become part of the extended family. It might just become your home away from home and a place you’ll always feel welcome.
Tamara is a freelance writer and blogger who explores the Oregon wine scene from her home in SW Portland. You can read more of her wine adventures at sipwithme.blogspot.com.
Cutline: Wineries offer different incentives for joining a wine club.
Teaser: Winery memberships offer potpourri of surprising perks