If you’re thinking of gifting a wine club this holiday season, you have your shopping cut out for you. Wine clubs are a dime a dozen, with even NPR Radio in the mix with its “All Tastes Considered” club. Originally, these clubs were created by the wineries themselves as an avenue to develop a frequent buyer’s list and keep the cash flow active throughout the year. I’m certainly guilty of joining a winery’s membership while I stood in their tasting room, several pours into the day. I loved receiving the frequent shipments, getting the vineyard and vintage updates, and being privy to private events. Now, wineries aren’t alone as retail and media are in the wine club game, from the likes of the New York Times to celebrity sommeliers like Brian McClintic’s Viticole Wine Club.
Despite all the choices, I still love the premise of wine clubs—consistent wine shipments or pick-ups, and private events teeming with the camaraderie of like-minded friends. Orange County has several esteemed wine bars and shops that have bespoke membership programs. Here are a few for my 2017 Christmas list (hint, hint Santa):
The Cellar – Club Orange
This cozy San Clemente wine bar, cheese shop, and restaurant has a fantastic wine list, so I’d wholeheartedly want to be a part of “Club Orange.” Members gather quarterly to pick up their hand-selected wines and cheese to take home. Of course, wine and apps are flowing at the pick-up event. Members also receive a 10 percent discount on wine and cheese retail.
The Grant – $50: two bottles of wine, two artisanal cheeses, and one accoutrement.
The Benjamin – $100: five bottles of wine, four cheeses, and two accoutrements.
The Nixon – $120 to $160: two bottles of “Nixon worthy wines” noted as high-end because “life is short,” two cheeses, and two accoutrements.
LCA – LCA Wine Club
This energetic club meets the third Friday of each month from 5 to 7 p.m. at the LCA Wine Shop in Costa Mesa. At this gathering, you’ll be introduced to and taste three choice wines from which you’ll choose two to take home. The cost is $35. In addition, wine club members receive complimentary tastings at the LCA Wine Bar, 10 percent off wine retail, priority pricing, and invites to LCA’s expansive list of wine events throughout the year. lcawine.com/pages/wine-club
Wine Lab – Insiders Club
Wine Lab’s Insiders Club members pick-up their wines in Costa Mesa at the end of each month. You can choose from three club levels: Experimenter, $35 for 2 bottles; Scientist, $60 for 2 premium bottles: or Mad Scientist, $95 for 4 premium bottles. Members also receive a 10 percent discount on wine retail and merchandise, 25 percent discount on wine flights, educational and fun emails, and complimentary entry to fantastic events at Wine Lab. winelab.net/insiders-club/