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clubbing it!

By Debbie Gioquindo, CTC, CSW, WLS

The Benefits of Joining a Wine Club

M y first experience with a wine club was after a

week of wine tasting in Napa. I don’t want to

date myself, but at the time wine clubs weren’t

that common—but I knew I wanted to join one.

So when I returned from my trip, I signed up for

a wine club in California, and one in the Hudson Valley. As a wine region, the Hudson Valley was in its infancy then so

there weren’t many options. I’m proud to say, though, that fifteen years later I am still a member of that same club!

Nowadays, almost every winery has a wine club or some

variation of one—perhaps it’s called a case club. In any case, membership in a wine club has its benefits besides having

a nice variety of wine delivered right to your door.

Making the Case for a Club

When you are at a winery and tasting wines, it’s very tempting to want to join the wine club because you are enjoying the experience and can get caught up in the moment. A good winery employee will tell you about the wine club offered there and about the member benefits. For instance, your tastings may be complimentary, there may be a percentage discount on your purchases, and you may have access to private parties. Your first instinct is, “sign me up!” But wait, is a wine club for you?

Before signing on that dotted line (with the hand not holding your wine glass), here are a few things to consider:

holding your wine glass), here are a few things to consider: You really like the wine.

You really like the wine. You live quite a distance away and/or the wine isn’t distributed in your state. You won’t be able to pick up a bottle in your local wine shop. Join.

Shipping. Due to complex interstate liquor laws that date back to just after Prohibition, not every winery can ship to every state. Even if your state does allow wine shipments, the winery might not have the special license it needs to do so. Make sure you ask before signing able to pick up a bottle in your local wine shop. Join. How long is

How long is the commitment? With some clubs, you must sign up for a year; you can cancel after a few months with others. Read the fine needs to do so. Make sure you ask before signing up. The cost of joining

The cost of joining a wine club might be reasonable, but remember shipping and tax are usually additional. Shipments are often automatically charged to your credit card on file with the winery, so make sure you have the budget for a recurring charge before committing.cancel after a few months with others. Read the fine print. With some wine clubs you

With some wine clubs you have a choice of red or white wines, but most offer a mixed selection. Not all club selections will please your palate, but that’s okay. You may be pleasantly surprised when you don’t think you’ll like a certain wine, then once you open it, you’re looking to order a case more. Keep an open mind! A winery values your club subscription just as much as you enjoy their wine, so sometimes you may receive a wine in your club shipment that’s produced in a limited quantity, and it may only be available to you as a club member.

Once you join a wine club you will become part of the winery’s family. When you attend special events at the winery for members only, chances are you’ll get to know the owners and winemakers personally. New friendships will be created and your wine experiences will be elevated to the next level. As I said, membership has its benefits!

A look at eight Hudson Valley wine clubs that really deliver:

If you aren’t a wino now, you will be when you join Applewood Winery’s Wino Club! With a quarterly commitment, you will receive two bottles of wine in February, May, August, and November. BENEFITS: 20% off wine purchases, free wine tasting when you visit the tasting room, and discount tickets to their events. Occasionally, Applewood will have special events for their Wino Club members that will include special tastings and limited edition wines.


Whitecliff Vineyard’s wine club

is a one-year commitment of

twice-yearly shipments—one in February and one in August. You can choose either a half case (six bottles) or a full case (12 bottles). The selections you’ll receive can be the winemaker’s selections, or you can choose based on wine availability at the time.

BENEFITS: Receive a 20% discount per case for a full-case member, and 10% on

a half case for the half-case member, complimentary wine

tasting for you and up to three guests when you visit, and 10% off any wines purchased

in the tasting room. Plus,

access to exclusive and limited run wines.

Palaia Vineyards offers a

quarterly wine club, which means you’ll receive one red and one white wine in February, May, August and November. You must commit to the entire year. BENEFITS: 20% discount on the wine, and 25% off your order the day you sign up. On other visits receive 20% off Palaia’s products. Each wine shipment includes a voucher for a complimentary tasting for

four, and you also receive discounted tickets for two to Palaia’s events.

You are automatically eligible to enroll in Robibero Winery’s case club when you purchase a case of wine in the tasting room (at a 10% discount). BENEFITS: Receive a discount card that entitles you to a tiered savings based on the number of bottles purchased. Card is valid for one year. (If you purchase more than three cases of wine during the year you are entitled to 20% off for the entire year.) You will also receive a complimentary tasting for four in their tasting room, 10% off all tickets for winery events, and 10% off tasting room merchandise.


Benmarl Winery’s wine club requires a yearly commitment of four bottles shipped three times a year. You have a choice of red only, white only, or a mixed case. BENEFITS: Complimentary wine tasting, 15% off wine purchases at the winery, invitation to a member’s only Spring Barrel Tasting Gala, and admission for two to their annual Bud Breaking Festival, Sangria Festival, and Harvest Grape Stomping Festival.

Millbrook Vineyards & Winery offers three types of wine clubs: Portfolio Club, Portfolio Plus Club, and Case Club. With the Portfolio Club, you get two wines delivered every other month, with tax and shipping included. The Portfolio Plus Club includes the regular Portfolio Club shipments along with alternate wine selections, such as Vineyard Designates, Reserve Wines, and Limited Production wines. BENEFITS: 15% discount on retail bottle prices, enrollment in the Case Club and their Purchase Credit Account (PCA) Rewards Program.

My advice: Knowing that you can’t sign up for a wine club at every winery you visit, you might want to start by joining one or two of your favorites. Then, after a while, change it up and join a few different ones.

The Case Club requires that you purchase one case of wine annually, either in the
The Case Club requires that
you purchase one case of wine
annually, either in the tasting
room or online.
BENEFITS: Complimentary
wine tasting for members,
discounts on all winery events,
advance notification of wine
releases, exclusive members-
only discounts, enrollment in
their PCA Rewards Program,
and free custom wine labeling.

Managing Contents

Make sure an adult is home to accept your shipments, as wine has to be signed for by someone aged 21 or older. If you’re like me and you weren’t on a first name basis with your UPS or Fedex delivery person, you will be once you sign up for a wine club.

Before you open a bottle, allow the wine to rest for at least

a week or more. Your wine may have “bottle shock” from

bouncing around in the delivery truck, so you’ll need to give

it some time to settle down.

Now, you can finally sit back and enjoy your rewards!

Purchase a case of wine at Hudson-Chatham Winery and you are automatically enrolled in their case club. Membership duration is 12 months and renews with the next case of wine purchased the following year. BENEFITS: Tiered percentage off your wine purchases based on the number of bottles purchased (maximum is 20% off a case), 10% off any winery event tickets, and a compli- mentary wine tasting for you and up to four guests in the tasting room.

Glorie Farm Winery has a case club membership which requires you to purchase one case annually in their tasting room. BENEFITS: A tiered-level discount depending on how many bottles you purchase, and a free standard wine tasting for you and up to five guests. Summer 2015