California Wine Club Review

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This veteran of the Web-based wine world started two decades ago because the proprietors were “frustrated” by the effort it took to find excellent wines at a reasonable price. At the heart of this frustration was the need to wade through dozens of brands and varieties with prices ranging from a paltry $5 to $35 and more, never really knowing what the experience would be.

Putting friends first seems to be the catch-phrase for Bruce and Pam Boring. They present their long-standing business as friends recommending wines to friends. Apparently, this method has been successful, as visitors to the California Wine Club website will quickly learn.

California wine club website.

California wine club website.


It might be best to start your online tour with a visit to the “About Us” page to get a feel for the mellow but professional atmosphere of this club. Featured on this short but informative page is the couple’s desire to uncover great wines from producers of all sizes, including the smaller, family-run wineries that often remain in the shadows of the global wine industry.

The focus is, of course, on wines from the Golden State.

  • Personal visits to wineries,

  • the source of great wine,

  • separate California Wine Club from some of the online clubs.

Rest assured that this individual attention limits the club’s selections to wines that are not “bulk, closeout or private label wines…ever.”


California's Wine Club is different...

While many Web-based clubs and wine suppliers present their company as exclusive, California Wine Club achieves an atmosphere of quiet gentility by insisting on the personal touch. The home page is uncluttered and rather spare, at first glance. However, this focus on quality without glitz is consistent throughout the site!


The club currently offers three distinct memberships

  • Premier Club

  • Signature Series

  • International Selections.



1. Premier Club

Premier club logo

The Premier Wine Club seems to be the most popular. With a $49.95-per-month fee, members can learn about California’s wine industry and its wide variety of wines without breaking the budget.

Membership benefits include two different wines each month along with the company’s “12-page, full color publication” Uncorked. This is as close to a small-scale wine magazine as it gets. The publication includes interviews with industry leaders, as well as “tasting notes, recipes” and other fun items.

Membership Length:"Ongoing Until I Cancel"
Wine Options:1 Red & 1 White
2 Whites (2 of the same)
2 Reds (2 of the same)
Send Shipments:Each Month
Every Other Month
Quarterly


Most of the regular wine aficionados around the globe are familiar with a dozen or so of the recognized names in California wine. While these may occasionally be offered by California Wine Club, members will definitely have access “wine regions not normally represented outside of California's wine community.”

As with most other wine clubs, membership can be cancelled anytime. The smaller, personal nature of this company means that the proprietors work with the wineries directly. The absence of a distributor helps keep the costs down, according to the club’s Web site.



2. Signature Club (upper level club)

Signature club logo

For those who want to sample wines that are a cut above, the Signature Series membership might be a good choice. Wines offered in this group are, according to the Borings, “extraordinary, highly rated and extremely rare wines.

Because of the limited quantity of wines available, we must restrict membership in our Signature Series to just 800 people.”

This sub-category under the California Wine Club banner offers two-bottle, three-bottle and four-bottle memberships that range in price from $150 to $275 on average. The wines provided often carry retail price tags in the $50 to $100 range.

Membership Length:"Ongoing Until I Cancel"
Wine Options:2 Bottles Only
3 Bottles
4 Bottles
Send Shipments:Each Month
Every Other Month
Quarterly


Members can be certain they are receiving wines that garnered ratings of 90 points and above from such reviewers as Wine Spectator, Connoisseurs Guide and Wine Advocate. Wine selections reserved for Signature Series members are generally quite rare.



3. International Club

International club logo

While this industry veteran has retained its California name and focus, the proprietors responded to customer desires by creating an International Selections club.

However, in crossing state lines, the company continued to focus on smaller, family-owned wineries in France, Spain and other countries. The membership fee for the International Club ($65+) is a bit higher than the fee with some other clubs that offer world wines. But California Wine Club concentrates on the best boutique wineries. Members have access to wines that are not available anywhere else in the United States.

Membership Length:"Ongoing Until I Cancel"
Wine Options:Mostly Reds
2 Reds (2 of the same)
Send Shipments:Each Month
Every Other Month
Quarterly




4. Aged Cabernet Series

Aged Cabernet Series

There is one more club category offered – the Aged Cabernet Series, for those who love Cabernet at its best. This seems to be a club closely related to the Signature Series level ($150+) but with a narrow focus.

“As recommended by the Robb Report, our exciting new club features prestigious Napa Valley Cabernets aged 10-15 years.”

Membership Length:"Ongoing Until I Cancel"
Wine Options:2 Reds
Send Shipments:Each Month
Every Other Month
Quarterly






Order your favorite wines at significant discounts

California Wine Club is NOT all about exclusive and limited club memberships, however. As is the case with other established clubs, members have the opportunity to order their favorites by the case, at significant discounts. According to the company’s information, wine ordered in six and 12 bottle increments sometimes come with discounts up to 50 percent!

Visitors to the club site will find a nice menu on the Case Reorder page, with subcategories of Red Varietals, White Varietals, links to each of the sub-category clubs and a detailed search by region. This last menu can take the visitor to more than a dozen distinct regions in California, to a few locations in Washington and Oregon and to several countries outside the United States.

For example, choosing to “visit” Temecula Valley brings up such wine opportunities as Thornton Winery’s Red Rhone Blend and Londer Vineyards Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.

Merlot fans will find excellent choices from Merriam Vineyards and Crane Brothers in addition to several other fine dry reds. Prices range from about $11 to $79 for the more exclusive Pahlmeyer 2005 Merlot.


Summing up

California Wine Club offers a rather smooth member sign-up procedure, which is to be expected from a company that has been a leader in the industry for 20 years.

A link on this page also allows members to provide their own wine ratings, which should be fun for those who enjoy good wines on a consistent basis. Choose the Just Uncorked button at the top of the page to find out what is brand new at the club.

It’s tempting to accept the Borings’ offer and taste the difference at California Wine Club.



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