Wine Clubs. Maybe you’ve heard about them, but never given it much thought. Or possibly, the term is new to you. What is a wine club? Why do wine clubs exist? And why should you consider joining a wine club at a Napa Valley winery? We’ve got answers!

What is a Wine Club? 

Many, if not most, wineries sell their wines directly to guests right from the winery and tasting room. Usually, after guests have sipped and sampled through a handful of wines, most folks will come away with a favorite or two (or three!). In addition to the convenient option of purchasing wines on the spot, wine clubs offer guests an additional, even more effortless opportunity to take home the wines. So, if you happen to fall in love with a particular Chardonnay or that over-the-top, delicious Cabernet from a particular producer, well, no worries. Join the wine club and these wines can be delivered straight to your front door.

Why Do Wine Clubs Exist?

Joining a wine club is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an opt-in, membership-based program that guarantees a direct shipment of wine to you. Though it hasn’t always been this easy! Napa Valley’s world-class wines have been on radar for wine lovers since the 1970s but, back then, could only be purchased during a visit to a winery and, in some instances, through a wine retailer (which purchased the wine at wholesale from a distributor, if it was available). It wasn’t until a campaign to “Free the Grapes” leading to a Supreme Court Ruling in 2005 that made direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine purchasing and shipping permissible. While a handful states in the U.S. remain excluded from DTC opportunities, residents in most states nationwide may enjoy the benefits of DTC wine purchases.

This opening of wine commerce across state lines has provided wine connoisseurs access to incredible wines without ever having to leave home. Further, it also provides wineries of all sizes, especially family-owned wineries (which comprise approximately 95% of Napa Valley producers), an opportunity to reach wine consumers directly. While a trip to Napa Valley is certainly the most incredible way to explore the many wonderful wines from this region, wine clubs are a nice additional channel to taste, sample, and explore and, of course, to beef-up your wine collection and have some fun doing so. 

What Do You Get with a Membership?

Whether home is in Texas or Virginia or Napa Valley, wine clubs are fun and versatile and, more often than not, customizable! Members may choose not only the number of bottles to receive annually but also the types of wines to receive. For example, if it’s big, giant, knock-out Cabernets that make your heart sing but you only drink those for special occasions, well then, you might opt into a club which ships nothing but Cabernet Sauvignon four times per year. Or, perhaps your motto is “only Pinot Noir, please” – well, that can be done, too. Wine producers love nothing more than to offer their wines to loyal enthusiasts and will gladly package them up for shipping or bundle them into a convenient wine tote for pick-up. You choose what works best for you and being “in the club” has its privileges.

Why Join a Wine Club?

There are plenty of reasons for joining a wine club.

  1. First and foremost, wine clubs provide you with a continual, steady stream of delicious wines, effortlessly delivered directly to your door. So, if you are really keen on collecting, for example, the next four vintages of your favorite Cabernet, a wine club is the thing for you.

  2. If you like having the insider’s connection and love sharing and showing new wines to your friends, then the winery-exclusive wines are reason alone to join a club – wine clubs allow you to be among only a small group of individuals with access to exclusive, hard-to-get wines. How cool are you?

  3. Wine shipments are often accompanied by educational materials containing wine profiles, wine pairing inspiration, or recipes that inspire inventive creativity in the kitchen, further developing your appreciation of the wine. And, some clubs even send small tokens of appreciation to members.

  4. Last but not least, and perhaps the most singularly fun reason to join a wine club…membership makes you feel like a VIP – an insider who receives exclusive privileges and perks. Club membership often includes preferred pricing, rewards programs, gratis sample sips, and, maybe one of the biggest features of all – access to member parties and exclusive events which, depending on the winery, can range from the simple and chill with tacos and Merlot served on a patio, to the ultra-extravagant featuring James Bond-themed costume parties with Champagne and caviar. That’s all part of the fun – finding a wine club that not only suits your wine style, but also suits your penchant for entertainment!

The Best Napa Valley Wine Clubs

Ready to join but not sure where to start? The list of incredible wineries is long and varied but here is a quick reference guide featuring a few notable wineries with unique wine clubs.

  • The Boisset Wine Society (includes wines from Raymond Vineyards, Chateau Buena Vista, JCB Tasting Salon) for consistently luxurious wines, customized shipments, discounts on wine, merchandise, and experiences and last, but not least, epic parties!

  • Palmaz Vineyards for its super high-tech production facility; delicious wines; and the unique facón, a gift to club members and a symbol of the proprietors’ Argentine heritage.

  • Frank Family Vineyards for its range of club levels with customizable quantities – including the “Sampler Club” which is a great introduction to the vast portfolio of reds, whites, and sparkling wines – and great events both at the winery and through virtual events (think Peloton sessions!).

  • Cakebread Cellars for not only shipments of its classic wines with educational materials but also recipes and the complimentary monthly virtual “Fun Friday” wine tastings and members-only “Cooking with Cakebread” virtual culinary classes.

  • Ashes & Diamonds Winery for its distinct style, excellent Cabernets, cool member events, fun tasting experiences, and special rates at premier hotels and unique access to exclusive pools in the Napa Valley and…in Hollywood. Are you going Summer swimming at a swanky spot in the Hollywood Hills??

  • St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery for its focus on sustainability, delicious estate-grown wines, culinary prowess and recipe pairings, and wine dinners that take place across the country.

  • Cliff Lede Vineyards for its rock and roll theme, range of club options, and extensive wine portfolio with members’ priority access and pricing to special events, often with live music! Plus, if you like rock-and-roll memorabilia, members can glimpse art pieces made by prominent rockers, including signed guitars by the likes of Sting and Mark Knopfler, at the on-site mini-museum.

  • Saintsbury for its single-vineyard and single-clone Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays paired with its laid-back and welcoming tasting experiences.

  • Schramsberg for the ability to snag limited releases of its extraordinary sparkling wines as well as elegant Cabernets from sister property, Davies Vineyards, with discounted pricing, visitation perks, and hip winemaker events.

  • Frog’s Leap Winery for its "Fellowship of the Frog" club and its organic, dry-farmed wines, as well as its library collection and small production lot wines in 3, 6, and 12-bottle shipments. Plus, you won’t want to miss the annual PeachFest or Frogtoberfest events and the famous Leap Year party (next up in 2024!).

So, whether you are looking to restock the wine rack at home with wines from a tried-and-true Napa Valley producer or you want to experiment with some under-the-radar blends or you simply just want to sip wine and live life in the VIP lane, a wine club membership is an excellent way to get there! Explore new varietals, enjoy special pricing, and mix and mingle at winery events and parties; whatever perk resonates most with you, there is a wine club in Napa Valley that is sure to suit your style!