With low barriers to entry and ever-increasing access to interstate shipping, wine subscription clubs have proliferated. Wine Enthusiast examined dozens of clubs, and we offer these 10 picks based on widely different premises.
If you’re a natural wine devotee, there’s a club for that. If you support environmentally responsible producers, there’s a monthly wine subscription for that. If you want to dive deep into a different region each month, or drink only from Oregon or underdog appellations, there are clubs for those passions, too. In no particular order, here are ten to choose from.
1. Cellar 503
Many wine clubs try to cover the global universe of wine. Cellar 503, founded by Carrie Wynkoop, focuses solely on Oregon, though her picks encompass far more than Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Monthly shipments have themes. In May, she showcased women winemakers, while in August, the spotlight was on Umpqua Valley. The two-bottle monthly membership is the most popular option, with rates that range from $45–55 per month. Shipping is $19.99 within the continental U.S., or $49.99 for Alaska and Hawaii. Portlanders can pick up at Sip 503 events for a $5 handling fee.
2. Fatcork Grower Champagne Club
It’s Champagne, so it’s not going to be cheap. But Fatcork is grower-focused, so value is derived from founders Bryan and Abby Maletis’s personal relationships with the small, family producers in their portfolio. Members of Fatcork’s Fantastic Champagne Club benefit from the couple’s Champagne direct-to-consumer import/distribution business based in Seattle. Choose from three membership tiers based on four shipments a year: Classic, $199 per three bottles; Fancy, $249 per four bottles; and Extra Fancy, $349 per six bottles.
3. Feiring Line Wine Society
If you seek a natural wine club, go straight to the prophet. Alice Feiring’s reputation rests on her belief in minimal-intervention winemaking, so she selects limited-edition, rare or hard-to-find bottles. For $75, plus shipping and tax, members receive a monthly shipment of up to four wines, depending “on what I see that I like…and what I think my people need to know about,” says Feiring. For a short-term commitment, try a three- or six-month membership. Recent offers included producers Pedres Blanques and Alessandra Bera.
Have you ever wanted to make a risk-free, wine industry investment? That’s the premise of Nakedwines.com. Members deposit $40 per month in a “piggy bank,” with that money going to support the personal projects of more than 150 winemakers. In turn, those producers create private-label wines that “angel” members can buy at any time with money from their piggy bank. Prices are low, and quality is good to very good. Recent selections included a Riesling from Washington State for $9.99 and an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for $19.99.
5. The Cork Club
Lenn Thompson, founder/ executive editor of The Cork Report, has long championed New York State wines alongside other East Coast and Midwest regions underrepresented on retail shelves. Thompson partnered with Mark Grimaldi of Ithaca’s Cellar d’Or to start a wine club to represent these underdogs. A recent shipment included the excellent yet tiny Fjord Vineyards from the Hudson Valley. Grimaldi also runs a cider club.
6. The Grand Tour
What happens when a master sommelier combines with upscale boutique wine shop? The Grand Tour wine club offers subscribers a deep dive on a region, and expands the reach of Verve wine stores beyond New York City and San Francisco. Thanks to Dustin Wilson, a monthly package sends members on an educational trip. Past topics covered classics like the Loire Valley and Portugal, and off-the-beaten path regions like Greece and Galicia. Four bottles from small producers run for $95, with notes and maps about the appellation. Given the club’s pedigree, that’s a sweet deal.
If there’s a club for natural wines, there should be one for organic producers. Brian McClintic, a master sommelier, filled that niche as he launched Viticole in 2016 on Instagram. He seeks to showcase wineries with a strong environmental ethos and keep wines to $55 per bottle. Partners farm organically or biodynamically, and often fully regeneratively, which the club hopes to make its exclusive focus. Recent shipments included Pax and Matthiasson. There’s a waiting list, as McClintic selects wines in producer cellars up to 18 months prior to release. Fortunately, the wait is only two months or so. There are two membership options, both billed monthly, but the club ships twice a year as full 12-bottle cases.
Winestyr, a direct-to-consumer marketplace, sources small-production American wines to sell online, including through club memberships. Co-founded by Bob Wilson CSW, the startup has a digital focus, though it offers a novel detour from the traditional virtual club model. Winestyr has two private, appointment-only lounges in Chicago where prospective members are feted with wine and snacks while they peruse club options. With a new wave of funding, Winestyr plans to roll out the showroom model to more cities. Club shipments start at $79, with customization options.
9. Wine Access
With curations run by industry experts, Wine Access sources both classics and newcomers at good prices. Club wines ship quarterly, based on a different theme. For September: up-and-coming and top-rated California producers like Wilson Foreigner and Public Radio. Inserts tell the wine’s story and flavor profiles. Six wines run around $150 for red, white or a mixed case.
10. Women-Owned Wineries
Two years ago, Californian Amy Bess Cook launched an innovative website, WOW Sonoma. An acronym for Woman-Owned Wineries, she sought to promote local female winemakers through the creation of a database of their wineries. The natural extension of such a project: a wine club. For each shipment, Bess partners with one female producer, most recently Theopolis Vineyards. Winemakers don’t hail from Sonoma alone, as she’s also featured Washington and Oregon producers. Each shipment has three bottles for $92, with shipping waived for website subscribers.