Orange Coast Magazine

Want to Learn More About Wine? Join a Club

Many years ago I joined Le Grand Crew, an Orange County wine club. It was a monthly gathering of 20 enthusiasts who fawned over wine. I joined as a novice, participated in the club for more than 20 years, and tasted practically every great wine made in the world. It was a wonderful educational experience, and it introduced me to many life-long friends.

If you have a burgeoning or serious interest in wine, I suggest either joining or forming a club to further your knowledge. A friend of mine recently told me of his new couples group that meets regularly. They choose a theme, every couple brings a bottle, and the wines are tasted blind to determine a favorite. At the end of the tasting, one wine is chosen as “special,” and attendees try to guess (blind) which one it is.

I also recently heard of Orange County Wine Elite, a unique club that’s seeking new members. The group meets every Saturday at a Huntington Beach or Newport Beach restaurant, for a blind tasting of wines from around the world. Weekly themes vary, and attendees pay the retail cost of the wines (purchased from local wine stores, sometimes at a discount), plus their own food expense. Arrangements are made with restaurants to waive corkage fees. OC Wine Elite specializes in mostly high-end wines, and the tastings always feature a sommelier-guided discussion on grapes, regions, and producers.

Check out the OC Wine Elite program and register at

Other Orange County wine clubs include the Orange County Wine Society (, and Wine Group of Orange County ( My club, Le Grand Crew, is still active, although I am no longer a member. Contact Steve Dember at for information.

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