California Wine Club Review
Finding a good bottle of wine shouldn't be all that hard, right? There are so many resources available these days that tell you not only which bottle are good and which are bad, but that will direct you precisely where you need to go to buy the wine. The problem, though, is actually getting out and buying those great bottles.
My big issue with wine (and cheese for that matter!) has always been one of being overwhelmed. I know what's out there, but I freeze up any time I actually go to buy wine. I need a little push to help me try new things, and that's why I decided to try my luck with a subscription wine club.
California Wine Club has been really good to me so far, and I think it's a worthwhile purchase. It's definitely meant for a certain type of wine enthusiast, though. If you want to see if you fit that profile, you should take a look at how the service works and what's in each box.
What is It?
The California Wine Club is an internet-based wine club that has the simple mission of helping artisinal wineries share their best vintages with the rest of the world. In practical terms, that means that this club works with smaller wineries to help promote their best products and to give people all over the US a chance to get acquainted with those wines.
Like many wine clubs, it's as much about being adventurous as it is anything else. While you can set some basic boundaries as to what you get when you sign up, you never know precisely what's going to show up. It's not necessarily a way to really broaden your tastes unless you choose for it to do that, but it is always a way for you to try out wines that you might not have selected for yourself.
What's in the Box?
As you might expect, California Wine Club is going to send you bottles of wine with every shipment. To be precise, you're going to get two bottles every time - though those bottles are going to vary by vintage in each box. You're not necessarily going to get the same wineries every time, and even if you do you should expect to get something a bit different than what you got last time.
Generally speaking, you're going to get wines from the same general regions in each box. The International series is probably the biggest exception, as it will bring you wines from regions other than the Pacific. Even the Pacific Northwest box is going to keep you in wines that come from relatively close to California.
If you've ever gotten a club box before, you should be fairly aware that what you get is pretty bare-bones. Don't expect wine glasses or t-shirts here - it's all about the wine. You will, however, get access to great customer service. One of the best features of this club is the fact that there's a wine expert you can call with questions after you get your box.
Perhaps the only downside to what's in the box is how limited each shipment is. You only get two bottles, which is great if you're trying to get wine for home but not quite as much fun when you're trying to taste new vintages. Think of this more as a really good way to build up your collection of wines without having to resort to your usual brands than anything else.
It's probably good to note here that, due to various laws, you can only get this box in the US. Yes, you can get international wines brought in but the domestic wines can't be brought out. It's not going to impact everyone, but it's still good to know.
What Does it Cost?
One of the best parts about this service is that you do get to set some limits on what you spend. If you go with the cheapest option - the Premier Series - you're only going to be spending about $41 per shipment. If you want wines from the Pacific Northwest, the price goes up to $77, while you'll pay a little less for International wines at $71 per shipment.
There are, however, some more expensive options. If you want to try out upper-level wines from the Signature Series, you'll end up spending $134. Those who want to try aged cabernets, on the other hand, will spend around $231. None of these prices include shipping, unfortunately.
The good news is that you're not paying extra to get these wines. The prices match the label price fairly well, and you'll sometimes get a bottle of wine for a bit less through this service than you'd get at the winery. It's a really nice way to expand your tastes without necessarily having to break your budget.
What's The Verdict
California Wine Club is a really great way to take baby steps towards getting more adventurous with your wine choices. It's not going to force you to try anything that's too far out of your taste profile, but it's going to give you a chance to try something new. It's a good compromise for cautious spenders who still want a good experience.
I'd definitely recommend this to any wine lover, but it's probably best for those who want to be slow and steady about assembling a collection of new wines. You can spend as little or as much as you want, but some of the best deals are often the most surprising. Definitely give this club a shot to try something new.