Wine clubs are a great way to discover new wines from around the world. Here are some local favorites. – The Virginian-Pilot
Interested in discovering wines from underrepresented groups? There’s a wine club membership for that.
Prefer to drink local? There’s a wine club for that.
Is natural wine your jam? There is also a wine club for that.
A wine club membership is a convenient way to discover new, expert-selected wines from around the world. It’s also a great way to expand your palate and hone your tasting skills while learning about the endless world of wine.
I discovered wine in 2006 while working in the Bay Area of California; I could barely tell the difference between a cabernet and a chardonnay, but I knew I wanted to know more.
A friend suggested I consider a wine club membership to sample and learn about interesting wines, and have it delivered to my door each month.
Of course, I couldn’t join just one. Over the course of a few months, I joined several, each focusing on a varietal or region I wanted to learn more about – one focused exclusively on Oregon pinot noir and another offering French red wines, for example .
The arrival of each shipment was like Christmas morning, an exciting and delightful journey through the world of wine.
I’m still joining clubs, and there are more great ones than ever – restaurants, wine shops, wineries, reputable sommeliers and even the media want to organize wine for you.
Most subscriptions allow you to customize delivery frequency (usually monthly or quarterly), number of bottles, and preference (red, white, sparkling, or a mix). They also include invitations to members-only events, discounts, and educational newsletters.
Navigating the maze of wine clubs can be confusing. Here are some of my local favorites:
If you want to explore the world of sustainable, organic or biodynamic producers, turn to natural wine evangelists Erin and Jason Edelman. The pair have helped usher in the region’s embrace of natural wines since opening Grandiflora Wine Garden in late 2020 in the Chelsea neighborhood. They have created one of the most unique clubs in the region, focusing on organic and biodynamic growers from around the world. The club’s most recent selection included two organic wines from the country of Georgia, home to 8,000 years of winemaking history, and a newsletter with information about the region and producers. ($50 per month for two bottles)
Best known for its premium cuts, Pendulum Fine Meats in Ghent now offers a themed monthly wine club, hosted by Whitney Beauter. Each month’s subscription includes four bottles of distinctive wines from around the world ($75 per month). Members also receive a monthly themed newsletter and discounts on wine purchases at Pendulum.
Great Bottles Wine Shop offers a flexible wine club for those wishing to explore a diverse range of wines. Each month, members can select two ($40 per month), four ($80) or six bottles ($115) of reds, whites or a blend. Members can taste new selections, pick up their wines and enjoy light snacks at the boutique on the fourth Thursday of each month.
Started by two U.S. Army veterans, Fox Tail Wine Bar offers three membership levels, ranging from $50 a month for two bottles to $150 for premium selections from popular wine regions around the world. Recent selections have included a Chenin Blanc from South Africa, a sparkling wine from Alsace and an Italian Fiano. Club members also receive discounts on wine purchases and admission to exclusive events.
Started by Leslie Frelow, a Maryland-based wine professional, the Shades of Vino Wine Club features wines from domestic and international producers who are women and people of color. Members can choose three, six or 12 bottles and customize between red and white wines. (Quarterly expeditions start at $74.99.) The summer expedition’s theme is “Off the Beaten Path,” with wines crafted by Tara Gomez, founder of Kitá Wines and a member of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. Members get free shipping on any order of six bottles or more.
Located on the banks of Church Creek, Chatham Vineyards is home to some of the state’s most distinctive wines. Club members receive a case of wine in the year, three wines per quarter. Membership includes special edition wines not available to the public, invitations to members-only events and a 10% discount on Chatham wines purchased in the tasting room, online or at festivals. ($66 per quarterly mailing)
Early Mountain Vineyards Club 1784 offers a diverse lineup of wines from vineyards in central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. The four seasonal shipments (March, June, September and December) feature three bottles selected by Early Mountain winemaker Maya Hood White. Club members can have the wines shipped or take the scenic drive to Madison to attend members-only club events with live music and a taste of the wines from the expedition plus small bites prepared by the chef Tim Moore. ($75 to $110 per term)
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A Southern Virginia gem, the Rosemont 1858 Wine Club allows members to select three, six, or 12 bottles of red, white, or both per quarter. Customers enjoy other benefits such as free tastings during visits to Rosemont, access to new products, a 10% discount on wine purchases and the Rosemont of Virginia newsletter.
Williamsburg Winery offers two clubs featuring wines selected by winemaker Matthew Meyer. Connoisseurs Club membership includes 12 bottles per term ($300); the Discovery Club, six bottles with each shipment ($140 per quarter).
Not looking for monthly or quarterly wine delivery, but want distinctive wines at a deep discount? Tinto Wine & Cheese in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake offers three membership levels ranging from $50 per year – ideal for the wine-to-go consumer – up to $1,000 per year for serious collectors. Members receive a 15% to 25% discount (depending on membership level) on wine purchases and access to tastings and oenology classes.
These are just a few of the wine clubs available locally. Let me know your favorite.
Contact Frank Morgan at [email protected].