Posts Tagged ‘Longboard Vineyards’

Part 4 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas” Wine Clubs – A Review of Different Types and Benefits

Are wine clubs a good value? Do they make good gifts? I will explore the various benefits, but in a short answer,  for the wine aficionado there are a number of reasons to consider. These  make an excellent gift for parents, kids over 21, people in far reaches of the country, as a way to expand their horizons, and get them off of ‘plonk’.

There are a variety of types of wine clubs; generally you can categorize them into Three:

  • Wineries Clubs that are Direct to Consumer (DTC)
  • Wine Shop Wine Clubs
  • 3rd Party or Aggregator like Wine Clubs.

Winery Wine Clubs

The most common of wine clubs; these can vary significantly by winery, but have numerous advantages.

  • Club members get discounts. Wine Clubs often have multiple tiers, and the higher the commitment, generally the larger the discount. (This is less of a benefit if you are already receiving Industry discount; although I have one wine club that doesn’t give Industry, a bit irksome, but love the wines.)   If you aren’t Industry, and buy a case or more a year of wine from a winery; consider joining the club if for no other reason  to save money. Wine Clubs like Quivira offer a large discount, on par with Industry, for the First 30 days of a new Wine Club release.
  • Access to Releases for Wine Club Only. Many of my clubs will do very small releases, perhaps 25-50 cases. These wines maybe reserved for Wine Club only and not for sale. Often this is a compelling reason why I join; lesser know varietals like Cinsault, a Rhone red varietal I am fond of; is the only way I can get it from Preston Vineyards.  Similar with Paso Robles Rhone producer Tablas Creek. Even very large producers like Kendall Jackson, who ship hundreds of thousands of cases a year; have wine clubs that offer small, under 20k case a year productions, available only in the tasting room and/or to Club members.
  • For Locals: Wine Clubs offer pickup events with music, food, and of course wine, often free pour. Sometimes these are free, or at very low cost. At a recent Wine Club event at Longboard, for $25  the event offered a band, an awesome pulled catered pork feast, free pour of new releases, and a bottle of Sauv Blanc to take home…find entertainment like this for that kind of money! Plus as a local you get to interact with the winemaker and the hospitality staff. Wine is as much about the experience and artisanship as it is the beverage.
  • For Non-Locals: Many great small wineries can’t find distribution as you go East. Why buy only mass produced wines, or be limited to what your local wine shop has, when 2-4 times a year you can receive a few bottles (or more) from your favorite producer.  If you are having your wine shipped, look at shipping costs and see if a larger membership makes sense.
  • Other benefits. Occasionally something very unique is offered. Rotie Cellars, one of my favorite Walla Walla Rhone producers is offering, until end of year only, Lifetime Pricing.  New members signing on by 12/31/10 get fixed pricing for the duration of their membership. FYI, Rotie Cellars is a highly rated, sought after producer, and the wine club list is nearing full and will close soon to allocation only.

Wine Shop Wine Clubs

No matter if you live in Wine Country, or in Wisconsin, I always encourage finding a good local wine ship to frequent. Here in Wine Country, its generally how we get wine from outside the area. In much of the US, this is your best bet to get small producers you can not find via retail. Mounts Family awesome Malbec or Grenache, or Cartograph Wines Pinot or Gewürztraminer isn’t going to be on your local Safeway, but your local wine shop may have it, or could order it if asked.

My favorite wine shop and wine shop club, is K&L Wines, also known as ‘my dealer.’ Why?

First their selections of wine, especially International, is amazing. They send buyers out all over the world to buy direct, so their prices are great. (Takes the sting out of not getting industry discount!)

Second, you can order quickly online, and WillCall your orders for 2 months. I order a bottle here, a bottle there, and then pick up my few cases when I swing through San Fran. (Other options are Redwood City, and Hollywood, CA.) They will also accumulate and ship; I used K&L regularly when I lived in Denver after I left the Bay area in 2002 .

Third, K&L has a number of wine clubs, but their most unique is the Personal Sommelier Service. You literally create your own wine club, picking price range, wine type, region. You can also pick from their extensive list of buyers, who makes your selections.So for example,  each month I have Mulan Chan-Randal pick for me a Rhone Red blend, from the Rhone Valley of France, for $20-$40. I have additional club picks where I have her select a Gigondas, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Then I have a West Coast Red Rhone club, picking from CA, OR, WA. If I wanted I could make that as specific as Paso Robles, or Sonoma, only. If your selection is too narrow, the system will advise you perhaps you should widen your selection. You can revise any of the many variables each month if you like, or suspend one. You can have your monthly selection shipped, or held for Will Call. Highly Recommend.

3rd Party Wine Clubs

Lastly, there are ‘aggregator’ like wine clubs, like the International Wine of the Month Club, whose Chianti I reviewed recently. California Wine Club is one I belonged to many moons ago when living in Texas. Many lifestyle publications, like Sunset Magazine also have one. These can vary widely in focus and benefits, but typically they source wines from many producers, and include educational material, food pairings, winery information. These can be a great way to get diverse exposure of wines, domestic and International.  If you live in an area where unique, interesting wines are hard to get, this is a great way to get a regular supply of something new and different.

A Gift For Others, Or Yourself

Many wine clubs are available in a giftable, pre-paid fashion. Buy your parents, adult children, or your boss, a 3, 6, or 12 month pre-paid  membership, and let them enjoy your present throughout the year, as well as perhaps broaden their horizons and palate.


The 12 Days of Wine Christmas

Part 1 of the “12 Days of Wine Christmas”: Wine Road Winter Wineland, Redwood Foodbank Raffle.

Part 2: “12 Days of Wine Christmas” – Gadget Review of the VinniBag

Part 3 of “The 12 Wine Days of Christmas” – The Wine Check (no, its not money!)

Sonoma Valentine’s Weekend Events

Its  been another one of those busy weeks, a whirlwind business tour through Texas, fleeing snow in Dallas, and writing/collaborating on so many wine events and education, in the wee spare hours. This weekly events post is normally due Thursday, will try to get back to that format.

There is no shortage of wineries and venues offering Wine pairings and fun events, especially paired with chocolates. I could write 5 page blog post, but will stick to some select highlights. Check the calendar for full details. (Note each title is a web link to their Facebook event.)

Valentine’s Zinfandel at Longboard Vineyards:

Longboard & Love Go Together like Zin & Chocolate!

I recently re-connected with Longboard for a drop in tasting, and was glad I did! This weekend,  Come achieve liftoff with the first taste of Ballistic Zin! (I tried it, its great!)  To celebrate Valentine’s Day Longboard is  offering scrumptious snacks specially choosen to pair with three of our wines, including our 2008 Zinfandel—a brand new release!

February 11-14, 2010, 11am — 6pm,  $ 10 per person for paired flight, The Tasting Lounge, 5 Fitch Street, Healdsburg. For more info, or to RSVP, call 707-433-3473. Their complete line-up of award-winning wines will be available for tasting.

Mounts Family Winery –  Valentine Wine Lover’s Weekend

I can’t wait to reconnect with one of my fave small wineries in Dry Creek.

Fall in love with Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from Mounts Family Winery. Indulge with wine & chocolate in a charming & rustic setting atop the hills of our family-owned estate winery in Dry Creek Valley. Delectable chocolate delights will be paired with their wines.

Cost is $5 per person, complimentary for wine club members. Wine lover special discounts and wine & chocolate pairings are sure to make this a Valentine’s Weekend to remember. Open from 11:00 – 5:00 on Saturday & Sunday (February 13th & 14th).

Not What Everyone Else Is Doing Valentine’s Weekend at Michel Schlumberger

Leave it to Jim Morris to head down his own path!

Wine and Chocolates, Wine and Aphrodisiacs, Bubbles and Bath, Bacon and Frosting….we have heard it all and we decided to have a bit more fun with the Valentine’s weekend.  Never one to follow the crowd, we are pairing up this weekend with one of the the finest cookietiers in the land, Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg, who just won the Best Retail Bakery in the United States in Modern Baking Magazine.

With any of their tours and tastings this weekend, can also enjoy amazing cookies paired with their delightful wines.  These tastings will be hosted by everyone’s favorite tasting room people, Samantha, Frank, Lisa, and Julia.

Zin City Valentine’s Weekend at BellaZin City Valentine’s Weekend at Bella

Head on out to the end of West Dry Creek Road next weekend for Bella Vineyards’ “Zin City” Valentine’s celebration. Las Vegas, in all its romantic, kitschy glory comes to the Bella cave!   “Double down” on the 2009 Late Harvest dessert zinfandel paired with dark chocolate cupcakes and, for those who dare to “elope”, they will be offering faux wedding ceremonies officiated by none other than Elvis himself. Walk the cave “casino” and taste other new release zinfandels and syrahs and then check back in with Elvis as he sings one of his classics.

It’s a perfect chance to get “hitched” or “re-hitched” and, for those who book a “wedding,” top hats, rings and veils will be provided.  We’ll all be dressed in Vegas-themed regalia, pink confetti will fly and we’ll serve mini-chocolate cupcakes from Velvet Crumb along with and an exciting lineup of highly anticipated 2008 new-release wines.

It all goes down Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th from 11AM to 4:30PM. Tickets are $10 per person and complimentary for wine club members and up to four guests.  “Weddings” can be arranged by calling 707.473.9171.

Graton Ridge Cellars – Sweetheart’s Chocolate, Cheese & Wine Event

Join Graton Ridge for their Annual Valentine’s Day “Sweetheart’s Chocolate, Cheese & Wine” event, Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14, 2010 from 10am to 4:30pm each day – Open House Style! Taste our delicious wines paired with fine chocolate and local artisan cheeses – all complimentary. Featuring the latest release of our A+ Apple Dessert Wine! TREAT YOUR SWEETHEART!

Graton Ridge Cellars, 3561 Gravenstein Hwy. N, Sebastopol, CA

Amista Vineyards Wine Dinner, at A Divine Affair

Vicky and Mike, owners of Amista have  become  friends thanks to social networking (in addition to me being a patron), and who doesn’t like the bubbly personality and great food of Kahleen Nowak, owner of A Divine Affair. Amongst the great wines Amista is pairing, is their new, very limited sparkling Syrah rose, that I raved about during Winter Wineland. This event is sold out, but I can’t help but tempt you with the menu!

  • (Bubbles) Amista Sparkling Syrah – Caviar tart ~ reconstructed caviar service. Blue cheese custard, port soaked figs, anise
  • Amista 2007 Chardonnay – Loves Greens, Bermuda Triangle goat cheese candied pistachios, pomegranate vinaigrette
  • Amista 2004 Syrah – Pan roasted duck breast, truffle creamed potatoes, foie gras melted leeks, Amista Ilusión port demi glace
  • Amista Ilusión Port – Perfectly paired chocolate canella mousse


Don’t miss A Divine Affairs other Pairing dinners, with wineries from Sonoma, ranging from Anaba, Mounts, and more.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Weekend, I can’t think of a better place, or people, than to spend it with! Cheers!

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