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Shopping for a good bottle of wine in a wine shop can be absolutely overwhelming. Even people who’ve been choosing wines for years will tell you that walking into a wine store can be a sensory overload-type experience. I’ve found the very best way to choose a good bottle of wine at my local wine shop is to develop a relationship with someone who works there, at the wine store. Over time, as I describe to him or her my taste preferences, and give feedback on what I’ve tried, and liked (as well as what I’ve NOT liked), that together we’ll begin to hit more and more often on varieties and vintners that I will enjoy.
My husband and I were lucky enough to find a “wine guy” who not only hit a home run on the first bottle he recommended to us, (it helped that we share a lot of similar taste preferences) but who also has become a dear friend. Not only is he our “wine sherpa” at the store, he continues to teach us about wine. And I mean REALLY teach us about wine.
As in, last year, with his connections and help, we made our very first wine, out of Sangiovese grapes, from Lodi California! We helped with the crushing, the pressing, the aging, the bottling, and in a few more months, we’ll begin enjoying the “fruits of our labor”, as it were! Talk about an amazing, exciting food adventure! We absolutely LOVED doing it. It has given us so much more of an appreciation for artisanal wine making, because, in effect, I guess we really ARE now artisanal wine makers! (A micro-winery produces less than 10,000 bottles a year. We have certainly made less than that! ) In an upcoming post, I’ll share more about that process.
So when I first heard about the California Wine Club, I wasn’t sure what to think. I really liked the thought of not having to visit the wine store to pick out the wines, but I couldn’t imagine being able to find the kind of wines that I would like, through an online service. So I asked to try the service myself, before I would recommend it to any of my friends. I wanted to be able to give an honest account of my opinion of the service: the drawbacks, as well as the advantages.
The Malbec wine, Cloissonné, that you see pictured in this post was given to me – shipped to me – by The California Wine Club, to enjoy, so that I could try out the service. The links in this post are affiliate links. All opinions are strictly my own.
What I Loved About The California Wine Club:
First off, did you know that 80% of the wine found in wine stores is made by just 3 large wine corporations? No? Me, neither. Because of my own viewpoint on how food tastes best (great ingredients, prepared simply, with as little processed crap as possible), and my own experience in the both the Napa Valley, and in Switzerland, visiting smaller vineyards and tasting their wines, I have such respect for the artisanal aspect of wine making. I fear that big corporations rob us of some of the individuality and craftsmanship that is available in wines that are made in smaller batches, rather than in bulk. I love that the philosophy of Bruce and Pam Boring of The California Wine Club is to seek out small family wineries that handcraft some of California’s most delightful and unique offerings in wine. It’s almost like you have your own personal “wine shop guy” out there searching for you, and then mailing back their finds, without you having to leave your home. Now, that’s cool.
I love that if you don’t love a wine, they will replace it. Really! (They guarantee it!)
I love that they have personal wine consultants, on call, there to assist you with all your questions and needs. I called! They were awesome! Warm and friendly, and they listened carefully to what my own tastes were.
I love that the club benefits not only you and me, as consumers, but the small family wineries who are making wine in such limited amounts that they can’t be found nationwide in stores. So the club functions as a way for these artisans to introduce their wines to a larger audience, and we as consumers benefit in that the club offers the wines at a VERY reasonable price. And if you find a wine you like, you can reorder it, and save 50% off of retail!!!
I love that there are varying price point levels within the club, depending upon your personal taste preferences and budget. The California Wine Club’s Premiere Series is the most popular of all the clubs.
I love that when your wine arrives, they give you a detailed (and I mean DETAILED) full color brochure that tells you about the specific wine that they have shipped to you, including tons of info about the wine maker! It’s so personal!
I think that this would be a great way for someone who would like to expand their own personal knowledge of wine, to use as a means to expand their palate’s horizons. (Likewise, if you have a friend or relative who you know who would like to do this, a membership would be a LOVELY gift at Christmas or for some other special occasion. )
What I Didn’t Love About The California Wine Club:
Denny (my wine guy) is going to get all mopey if we abandon him. 😀
But I’m kind of hoping to make friends with Bruce and Pam, the founders, and take Denny and his wife out there with me and my husband, and we can all sit around and share a glass of lovely, artisanal California wine, together, and debate what we are each tasting and smelling. 🙂 Because that’s one of the great aspects of wine: it’s so fun to taste and savor with other people who appreciate a great wine as well! And maybe I’ll make us a nice plate of hors d’oeuvres, to go with.
The only other downside I can think of is that if you suddenly need a wine for a particular meal, online wine ordering takes a little longer to get what you want. (Assuming you don’t have that bottle of what you need on hand.)
If You’d Like More Details On The California Wine Club:
If you’d like to read more on the California Wine Club, please use my link. The California Wine Club delivers award-winning, limited production wines each month. Maybe you’ll end up finding through them, your own special little wine shop, with your own special wine guy, online.
I saw this on their website, but it’s only good through the end of the day tomorrow, March 31st:
Save up to 65% on handcrafted, award-winning wines priced as low as $7.99. Plus get $1 Shipping on every case and half case. 300+ wines to choose from.
P.S. I also ran into this coupon on their site:
Try Premier Series and get two bottles of bonus wine in your first shipment free with code 2EXTRA from The California Wine Club through 5/31 Added bonus: A $25.00 wine credit to use later.