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Joining the Club

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Today on my visit to Okanagan Oldies it was all about wine clubs.  Originally I had the mistaken perception that wine clubs were for people that were far more knowledgeable about wine than myself, had lots of money to spend on wine and had a huge cellar in the basement with a tasting room for 10!  I was wrong.

Now a few years later my husband and I are members of a few wine clubs.  For our discussion this morning I tried to break down why some wine clubs may not only provide a savings on your overall wine purchases, but share ‘members only’ experiences including wine tastings, educational sessions with the wine makers and some fun events to spend time with fellow wine fans.

Why join a wine club?

You love their wine and can’t get your hands on it!  This is exactly why I joined the wine club at Synchromesh.  I had fallen in love with their riesling when dining out but had never spotted a bottle at the liquor store and never seemed to make it to their winery in Okanagan Falls before they sold out and closed up for the season.  With many of these smaller wineries it’s harder to get their product as they simply don’t produce as much wine.  For me, I felt jinxed.  I’d finally get a clear day in the calendar and be planning to visit Synchromesh when I would discover CLOSED FOR THE SEASON/SOLD OUT.  Becoming a club member solved this problem and I was thrilled with my case of single vineyard riesling that I purchased and enjoyed every drop.

You love their wine and they are almost your neighbour.  We became wine club members at Quails’ Gate and are big fans of both their wines and the VIP treatment of their club members.  For Quails’ Gate they have 3 shipments of wine per year and you can join for as little as 6 bottles per shipment, so 18 bottles annually.  The bottles are selected for you and come with a little handout explaining each of the wines along with a seasonal recipe from Chef Roger Sleiman in their Old Vines Restaurant.  When it comes time for a shipment, you get your invitation to a pickup party.  This pickup party is to pickup your wine order but it’s always a big show for the members.  Food, tastings of library wines, tasting of the latest release from their cellar, live music, crafts and of course your membership discount- whatever it is, it’s great that they are so close so we never miss a Quails’ Gate members event.  Being a club member at a winery close to home allows you to not only enjoy their wines but also the perks of membership without traveling a distance.

You love their wines but don’t want to make a big commitment.  The Flock club at Red Rooster is simple and almost an ‘introductory’ course in club membership.  They ship you 2 bottles every month for the year.  Each shipment is selected by their talented winemaker Karen Gillis and comes with tasting notes.  In addition as a member you get a discount at the wine shop and a wine paired recipe.

You love wine & cheese.   Upper Bench Winery & Creamery in Penticton have a unique club – Curds & Corks.  Not only do you get quarterly shipments of wine, each shipment also contains 3 pieces of their handcrafted perfectly paired cheese! Their U&Brie and King Cole Blue Cheese are amazing.

Love their wines and you want concert tickets.  Both Mission Hill Estate Winery and CedarCreek Estate Winery have wonderful summer concerts but getting a ticket is mission impossible.  The reason…wine club members get first dibs.  Both wineries offer their club members many benefits but I must admit I covet the priority seating at Mission Hill’s Terrace Restaurant and the private tours that you can book when you have guests come to town.

Love their wines but never get to the tasting room.  Liquidity in Okanagan Falls has recently launched their Equity Tasting Club.  The format of this club is a first in Canada.  As a club member they will send you two tasting packs through the year for you to taste in the comfort of your own home.  You commit to purchasing 18 bottles through the year, but they give you the opportunity to taste before you buy.  All of their wines are delicious so you can’t go wrong and if you do get out of the house, you can also enjoy 10% off in their beautiful bistro (sit on the patio if you can to enjoy the view).  I think this is brilliant!

And finally talk to your friends.  We have friends who are members of wine clubs where we are not members but we are all happy to share cases of wine, make additional purchases at our membership discount and in general grow our wine cellars at our own pace and budget.

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