Best Wine Club Reviews - Wine Turtle
This post was updated on: August 1, 2018

Best Wine Club Reviews

Best Wine Club Reviews

I confess! If during a visit to a winery somebody asked me if I wanted to join their wine club, I would think twice before giving the answer. This fancy name would probably make me think about some kind of secret society of the wine snobs ready to judge me for the simple confusion between a dry wine and a sweet one.

And just as I always do when I’m in doubt, my answer would be a plain “No, thank you!”

I would give that answers as someone who just became interested in wine and who doesn’t have even a pale idea of what a wine club could be. Because, unless you literally hunt the wineries or are a wine connoisseur, you wouldn’t probably have the faintest idea what a wine club is and why you should join one.

So let’s make some light on this subject. Let’s find out more about the wine clubs and see the best wine club reviews to choose the one you want to join.

What Is A Wine Club

To understand what a wine club is, we must take a step back in the past, more precisely in 1972. This is the year when an Armenian pharmacist and owner of a small liquor store in Los Angeles county, Paul Kalemkiarian, created the first “Wine Of The Month Club”.

The idea is of a disarming banality, a simple monthly selection of a white and of a red wine that are proposed to the customers in the store and that can be delivered by post to their homes.

And this is how I started to change my “wine club” vision. Because it is known, the simplest ideas are the most successful ones. In fact, this simple marketing formula invented by Kalemkirian was embraced by many wine producers and liquor stores becoming popular not only in California but in the whole country.

Today, the wine clubs are famous not only in America, but wineries all over the world consider the creation of a wine club a great tool to retain customers, being successfully used for loyalty purposes.

French winery in Aquitaine

In fact, many wineries and wine stores are now offering their visitors a selection of wines that can be delivered to their homes monthly or quarterly. The customers are typically charged on the credit card for the service and the best part is that you will no longer have to worry about going to the store or to the winery to pick up your bottles.

Types Of Wine Clubs

By now, you might have thought that subscribing to a wine club is easy: find a wine you like, subscribe to the wine club and receive your bottles monthly or quarterly. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but choosing a wine club is not so simple.

Before deciding which wine club to join, you must first understand what different types of wine clubs are out there. In fact, the wine clubs can differ based on the range of wines they offer levels of affiliation and other less important characteristics.

There are three major wine club types: subscription, social and free . Let’s have a look at them in detail.

Subscription Wine Clubs

Subscription wine clubs are the most common professional wine clubs. Typically, the wineries hire wine experts to explain the different qualities of the different wine types, they offer several subscription programs and also include a range of benefits, such as:

  • Worldwide shipment
  • Invitations to winery events
  • Food pairing advice
  • Discounts
  • Wine tasting invitations
  • Regular updates about the latest wines and choice recommendations.

Sometimes, these wine clubs even offer travel opportunities to their members, all for a subscription fee and for the purchase of a determined quantity of wine.

Social Wine Clubs

Social wine clubs are not generally open to the wide public, they are more exclusivist solutions for those people who have a genuine interest in wine. The members of a social wine club can get their wine delivered at home, but in most cases, the purpose of this wine clubs is that of gathering funds that will then be spent to purchase wine samples to taste at regular meetings held by the members of the club.

Free Wine Clubs

Another wine club solution designed for the average wine consumers or for those who just became interested in wine and winemaking. The free wine clubs are ideal for those people who don’t want to commit to a subscription but want to pay only for the wine they get.

Free wine clubs offer some wine information services but these are rather limited. Most of the times you will have to pay for wine samples, trips or another type of merchandise.

However, you will still be able to choose the type of wine you want to purchase, the frequency of delivery and you will probably get some guidance about choosing the wine and pairing it with food.

It is easy to understand that most people will choose to join either a subscription or a free wine club. Social wine clubs are generally joined by winemakers or wine experts and by those who want to enrich their knowledge about wine and winemaking.

Wine Club Common Programs

As I said above, most subscription and free wine clubs have different affiliation programs. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the major programs wine clubs offer that should help you decide what is the best program for you.

Continuity Program

These are probably the most popular programs. Typically, the member gives the wine club their credit card number and allows them to automatically withdraw the money for a determined number of bottles that will be delivered with a frequency established upon subscription.

The vast majority of these wine clubs offer various purchase options and the members will be able to choose what type of wine they want to receive, how many bottles or how frequently they want to receive them.

Future Release Program

The future release programs mean the advance purchase of the future wine production, often at promotional prices. Members who subscribe to this type of program usually receive invites to wine tastings when the new wine is launched on the market, but they risk of buying a wine from a less productive year.

This type of programs present advantages for both the wineries and the customers. The wineries will sell their wine even before they make it and the customers can have the fortune of buying at a discounted price a wine from an excellent production.

One-time Purchase Programs

One-time purchase programs don’t have the purpose to gain loyal customers but rather to increase the short-term sales of a club. The customers are automatically added as members of the wine club when they purchase a determined quantity of wine.

However, you will not have any compulsoriness about future purchases.

Email Program

As technology evolved, many wine clubs decided to benefit from the use of the internet to attract new customers. In fact, email programs are nothing but newsletter subscriptions that will give you the latest news about wine.

You will also have the possibility to purchase your favorite wine from the last wines released or from those offered at discounted prices.

Many clubs use an email program to convince the members to subscribe to a continuity program.

Wine and Cheese Party

Why Join A Wine Club?

If you are a regular wine consumer, meaning that you drink more than three bottles each month, then joining a wine club can prove to be more benefic compared to buying your wine from a store. Here are the most important advantages of joining a wine club

1. You can get discounted wine

Most wine clubs offer special promotions and discounts for the purchase of three or more wine bottles monthly or quarterly. The discount rates usually vary between 20 and 30%, meaning an important saving if you are a regular consumer.

2. Free wine tastings

Free wine tastings are common for the members of a wine club, meaning you will usually get free wine samples at home. Many wineries will also give you free samples if you decide to visit them and, in most cases, if you visit the winery with a friend or two, they will also receive free samples. There is a win-win situation, as wineries can attract a new customer and you can visit with friends without paying a dime. However, free wine clubs usually charge you for the samples.

3. Access to special reserve wines

All wineries store their most exclusive wines that can be either reserve wines or vintage wines and they usually sell them to wine club members only. So, if you want to have access to really special wine bottles, consider joining a wine club.

4. VIP treatment

It is not unusual for wineries to have their own wine bars, but if you ever visited a wine region in full season you might have noticed how crowded those wine bars are. But if you are a member of a wine club there is good news. Most wineries reserve a VIP section for the club members where you will enjoy the immediate full attention.

5. Exclusive winery tours

Most wineries are open for public tours that can be joined by all guests. However, if you decide to join their wine club, you can either get those tours for free or benefit from exclusive tours to winery areas normally closed to the public.

6. Other benefits

In addition to all the advantages reminded above, some wineries also offer free harvest dinners to their club members, free advice on wine choosing and pairing, wine news and more.

How To Join A Wine Club?

If you’re now convinced to join a wine club, your next concern will probably regard the club admission. Joining a wine club is simple in most of the cases and most wineries or stores encourage guests to join their wine club in tasting rooms, wine-related events, advertising campaigns or online.

The best thing to do if you want to join a wine club is to visit the local wineries and taste their wines. If you like them and want to receive it at home, ask if they have a club and how to join it.

Different wine clubs can have different admission requirements and rules, therefore the best way to join a wine club is by contacting them directly.

How To Choose The Right Wine Club?

You will also be able to find the many online wine clubs. These wine clubs usually send you the agreed bottles at regular intervals.

Before deciding which wine club you want to join, let’s find out how to choose the right wine club.

Before subscribing for membership, do your research and compare several wine clubs to find the one that is more suitable for you. Some wine clubs focus on providing their clients with high-quality and often exclusive choices while others focus on maintaining accessible prices.

Another aspect to consider is what you want to achieve with your membership. Wine clubs evolved during the years and many now offer educational or training programs. Many wine clubs will also send you plenty of informative material, such as recipe suggestions, or you could even ask the club for a determined variety of wine or have them choosing your wine based on the information you gave them. There are many services you might benefit from, so make a list of what you want and search those wine clubs that offer the most of them.

If you choose a wine club from another state or country, check if they can legally send you the wine before subscribing. Also, check who will pay for the shipment fees. Most wineries and wine clubs offer discounted prices for the retail price of the wines, but if shipment costs double you might want to think again before subscribing.

You could also consider joining the club of a winery that is located close to you. I mean yeah, you could just go there and buy your wine, but the truth is that many wine club members benefit from living in the proximity of the winery.

If the winery is nearby, you will be able to join the free tours and tastings with more ease. You can also get invited to free dinners and you can even subscribe for membership with more than one local winery, for more versatility regarding the wine varieties you can get at premium prices.

So, to resume everything, decide what you really want to achieve with your membership, do your research, and join the wine club that meets the most of your needs.

What To Consider Before Joining A Wine Club?

Since now we only talked about reasons to join a wine club. But should you really join one? If the only purpose of joining a wine club is that of getting discounted wine without leaving your house, then you might want to consider these aspects before subscribing.

The most important, wine clubs seem to be bargains, but in most cases, they are definitely not. Even if they seem to sell everything at discounted prices, remember that they have to survive from this business, so you might notice that sometimes the “discounted” wine you ordered costs less at the local liquor store.

Check the wine, compare prices and decide if you can truly benefit from joining a wine club. As mentioned above, consider the shipping fees too.

You should also beware of all that wine offered at cheap prices and that is sold exclusively by only one wine club. Unless the wine club is the wine club of a winery, there is only one reason why you can’t find it elsewhere: it’s poor quality and no one wants it.

You should also check the return policy. Some clubs offer a money-back guarantee, others will compel you to keep the order even if you don’t like it.

Another important thing to check is the policy of keeping the wine samples and other promotional merchandise, especially if you consider joining a free wine club. In fact, getting a sample or promotional material doesn’t mean it’s free.

Check the policy to make sure you won’t be charged for any unreturned merchandise.

Lastly, check the membership rules. See if you can leave the club at any time or if you have to maintain your obligations for a determined period. Check if the membership is automatically renewed or if you have to agree for renewal.

And don’t forget, many wine experts suggest taking wine classes or talking to a sommelier than joining a wine club if you want to improve your knowledge about the wines.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t join a wine club, it just means that you should pick wisely. For this reason, I checked many wine clubs across the country and made a list of the best of them. Below, the best wine club reviews will reveal my top choices.

Best Wine Club Reviews

1. Invino Wine Club

Irvino Wine Club Review

Remember when I said that to me wine clubs resemble Victorian secret societies? Well, Invino is some sort of secret society with a twist.

They are almost unknown, and maybe this is their purpose, to be an exclusivist wine club open to those wine lovers who dig and find the unfindable information. Finding information about this wine club, in fact, is not possible unless you sign up for membership. So I did.

Signing up will not compel you to make a purchase or pay a fee. It will actually give you access to a lot of information about the club, including the membership options such as purchasing frequency, wine quality, and grape or region preference. You can also choose either you want a specific wine or let the club choose for you, and there is even an option to receive sparkling wine.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Invino Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Customizable choices: from prices to wine quality, everything at Invino is customizable. You can get monthly, every other month or quarterly shipment and a larger or smaller number of bottles based on the chosen quality range.
  • Access to private sales and discounts: if you sign up for exclusive wines, then this might be the right wine club for you.
  • Fixed prices: when you choose the delivery frequency you choose the fee that is more appropriate for you. That, combined with the desired quality, will determine how many bottles you will get with each shipment.

Things We Didn't Like

  • While it is true that signing up is completely free, they would probably get more members if they would make pricing and joining information public. They also lack clarity in some aspects.

2. Gold Medal Wine Club

Gold Medal Wine Club Review

This California-focused wine club impresses with its high-quality wine selection that is made of Californian wines as well as of a selection of international wines. Furthermore, they also have two options that allow you to purchase wines from small and independent wineries.

Upon subscription, you will be able to choose the series of the wine, the number of bottles you want to purchase and, for some membership levels, the frequency of the delivery.

You will also be asked if you want to receive a fixed number of bottles then end your membership or opt for an ongoing membership.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Gold Medal Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Interesting wine choice: Gold Medal Wine Club sells the wines of many Californian wineries and independent wine clubs, focusing on promoting the local wine businesses.
  • Not only wine: together with your wine selection you can choose to receive paired snacks too. It is completely up to you to include them in your order or not.
  • Free admission and cancellation: joining and unsubscribing from the club is easy and completely free. If in doubt, you can simply access the convenient online chat and ask all the questions you want.

Things We Didn't Like

  • When it comes to shipping costs, many wine clubs are unclear, but Gold Medal Wine Club is completely mute. This makes me think that there is something fishy about it. On the other hand, the club gives members high expectations which can lead do massive breakdowns.

3. Tasting Room By Lot 18 Wine Club

Tasting Room Lot 18 Wine Club Review

A wine club that focuses on quality and customer satisfaction is the Tasting Room By Lot 18 Wine Club. Members will be asked upon subscription to fill in their tasting profiles and will select the wines to be shipped based on their unique profiles.

They ship the bottles quarterly, and basically each time you will receive 12 bottles selected especially for you.

There is a small admission fee to pay, but you will receive a beautiful gift for that money that will help the club’s experts determine what wines you really like.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Tasting Room By Lot 18 Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Clear pricing: there is one joining fee plus a fixed price for quarterly shipments of 12-bottle wine boxes and the shipping fees. Added up, your high-quality wine bottles will sum up to less than $15 per bottle, a true bargain.
  • Palette assessment: a simple tasting test and voila, you get the wine you like without further hassle. Don’t worry about varieties, bouquet and more, let the experts decide it for you.
  • Great customer service: either you are a member, a potential member, or just look for wine information, their customer service is professional and effective.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Unfortunately, the club is not clear in which states it is available. Furthermore, receiving 12 bottles of wines every three months can be too much for some. Maybe they could introduce a six-bottle option to attract more customers.

4. Vinesse Wine Club

Vinesse Wine Club Review

Either you have a small or a large budget or you want to choose from a really wide selection of wines, Vinesse could be a great wine club for you.

They have 15 membership levels and you can either choose one of them or mix them up, you will be able to choose the frequency of the deliveries and the composition of the batches along with the quality of the wine.

They propose a wide variety of wines from all the regions of the world, a definitely interesting feature since you will not be limited by the American choices. Vinesse also sends an information sheet that will explain the characteristics of all the wines included in the box.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Vinesse Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Selection of sparkling wines: not many wine clubs include sparkling in their selections, which is rather sad. Sparkling wine is delicious, it pairs with almost everything and it is simply… fancy.
  • Discounts for large quantities: if you choose shipments of larger quantities, the price per bottle will be reduced, a feature that is awesome in my humble opinion.
  • Clear information: you will be able to gather all the necessary information and decide whether you want to join the club or not before subscription.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Unfortunately, Vinesse is not clear about the shipment, more precisely about shipment restrictions. Therefore, it might be difficult to understand if you will be able to receive your bottles or not.

5. Virgin Wine Club

Virgin Wine Club Review

Virgin is one of those companies that literally make everything… including a wine club. While buying your wines from Virgin wine club might seem uninspiring, I suggest to give them a chance.

The club sends 12 bottles of wine quarterly and you can choose between white, red, or a combination of the two. The fee is always fixed and the bottles have an average unitary price.

As Virgin Wine Club doesn’t focus on one variety or region, you will most likely receive wines from all over the world, a great opportunity to enlarge your wine knowledge.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Virgin Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Discounted introduction fee: joining is free and upon subscription, your first order will come at a discounted price.
  • Unique bottles: Virgin Wine Club claims they will not send the same bottle twice, and that’s great news for all wine lovers. Other great news is that you will not have to keep the bottles you don’t like.
  • Tasting notes included: for each wine you receive the wine club includes a tasting note with suggestions regarding pairing the wine with the food and serving requirements.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Virgin Wine Club could be an excellent choice for the newbies, but the wine experts will probably not be able to find high-quality wines or exclusive selections at this club. The club’s strategy to attract new customers is also debatable. In fact, Virgin Wine Club promises 15 bottles for a really low price which prove to be only 12 bottles.

6. Lathwaite’s Wine Club

Lathwaite’s Wine Club Review (formerly Zagat)

If you are a true wine lover that Lathwaite’s should sound familiar, as it’s one of the largest retailers of wine in the world. As some of the wine clubs reviewed above, Lathwaite’s Wine Club send its members 12 bottles of red, white or mixed wines each three months.

Lathwaite’s aims to provide wines to wine experts or anyway to those with at least a minimal knowledge of wines. For this reason, there is no initial selection of taste preference, although the club will use your feedback to cure the future shipments.

Simple and clear when it comes to options, in addition to choosing white, red or mixed wine you will also be able to choose between four season wines or reserve.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Lathwaite Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Transparent fees: joining or leaving the club is free, shipment costs are fixed and the prices are clearly explained. If you want to leave the club, just cancel your subscription before a shipment and that’s it.
  • Competitive prices: a bottle of premium wine costs just under $20 and the shipping fees are fair and clearly explained.
  • Possibility to change the order: the company will send a notice before shipping your wines and you will be able to replace the wines you don’t like with others you might enjoy.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Lathwaite’s sends three bottles of four wines in each box. This might be great if you like the wines, but if you receive one wine that is not your favorite, you’ll have to stick to other two bottles of it. That’s not nice.

7. Plonk Wine Club

Plonk Wine Club Review

If you want to learn as much as you can about wine and winemaking, Plonk Wine Club might be the right option for you.

The wine sells small batches of artisanal, sustainably grown wines from all over the world, and when it says all over the world it means it.

To make things more fun, Plonk Wine Club proposes two joining options, varietal specific that will allow you to get the same type of wine over and over again or curated, an option ideated for those who are not afraid to try new varieties.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Plonk Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Shipment customization option: you can choose between two, four or twelve bottles that will be delivered to your home every month. The price changes based on the quantity.
  • Free shipping: that’s probably the best part. You pay only for the wine, the club will take care of all the rest.
  • Environmentally-conscious: a wine club that selects sustainably produced wines is definitely a wine club to consider.

Things We Didn't Like

  • There is no list of states where the wine is available and they are also shipping repeat bottles. Now, I do understand that shipping sustainably produced wine is not simple, but what if you simply hate that wine?

8. California Wine Club

California Wine Club Review Subscription

When it comes to joining a family-owned wine club, most of the wine lovers and experts will agree instantly. And California Wine Club is one of those clubs. With a history of over 25 years in the field, California Wine Club not only ships quality wine to its members, but it also supports the small, family-owned wineries.

What I really like about this club is that they ship two bottles of wine, one red and one white, to its members only after the founders of the club and the selected members visited the vineyard and tasted the wine. That’s quite a novelty.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of California Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Information sheet in each shipment: with the wines, you will get information about the wines, the winery, and other interesting information.
  • Signature Series membership: if you want more than two bottles, use this option to sign up for regular shipments of two, three or four bottles.
  • Traveling possibilities: each month, selected members are invited to a tour of a winery or at a wine tasting, for a small extra fee on the shipment.

Things We Didn't Like

  • The club sends an extra box of wines at random times. That wouldn’t be a problem, but the fact that they don’t advise about it is not nice. Being a small business, they also have a terrible customer service as they are hard to reach.

9. Uncorked Ventures Wine Club

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club Review

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club is one of those wine clubs that fall in the “secret society”, snob clubs. But is that type of club with a twist, because it actually focuses on bringing to light all there is to know about the West Coast wines.

They give excellent membership benefits, including access to reserve wines and special wines that wineries wouldn’t normally sell to non-visitors and they also offer plenty of choices when it comes to subscription options.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Uncorked Ventures Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Joining options: you can choose if you want to receive the wines monthly, every other month or quarterly.
  • An easy way of getting exclusive wine: just imagine how you would feel about bragging in front your wine lover friends with a bottle of wine they will never be able to get.
  • Informative material: with the wine, you will also get a lot of educational material, including variety descriptions, climate requirements, winemaker details and much more.

Things We Didn't Like

  • There is no solid information available about the owners of this club. There is no stated wine education or experience, two things you would expect in someone who is shipping you exclusive wines.

10. Club W Wine Club

Club W Wine Club Review

Club W wine club is one of the most advertised wine clubs on the social channels. They use a simple system to decide what wines they should send to the members, asking a few simple questions with no apparent connection to the wines.

In this way, Club W makes those members who are not really familiar with wines feel comfortable.

There is even an option to change the wines you will receive and, probably the top characteristic, Club W only sells wine produced exclusively for the club and that cannot be found elsewhere.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Club W Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Excellent prices: all the wines proposed by this wine club cost less than $20. Added to a fixed, cheap, shipping rate, this could be a winning formula.
  • Informative material: with each wine in the box (three wines per box) comes a cardboard with a recipe printed on it. Good pairing suggestion.

Things We Didn't Like

  • I don’t know how much to trust a wine club that only proposes unknown wines at low prices. In most cases, this happens when wine clubs purchase at extremely low prices wine batches that no one wants because they are rubbish. Is this the case of Club W? Who can tell?

11. Wine Of The Month Wine Club

Wine of the Month Club Review

Remember the story I told you at the beginning of this article? That about the first wine club in the world? Well, this is it! If you want to become a member of the oldest wine club in the world and receive two bottles of great wine each month, hit subscribe!

There are no admission or cancellation fees, shipment fees are average and you will be able to brag in front of your friends with the wine received from the original Wine Of The Month.

Click Here to Read Our Extensive Review of Wine Of The Month Wine Club

Things We Liked

  • Historical wine club: as they implemented the wine club idea, it is easy to understand why any wine lover would want to be a member.
  • Wide choices: they have quite a few wines, including wines from all over the world. You just have to choose your favorite package to receive the wines of your choice.
  • 6 bottles option: if two is just too little, you can order six bottles of wine with each shipment.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Figuring out where they ship and how much the shipment costs is not easy. But that’s their only negative point.

About the Author

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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