The 5 Best Wine Clubs to Join

Joining a wine club is a great way for new wine enthusiasts to explore the world of wine in a guided setting while having different bottles hand-picked by experienced wine experts.

They often offer incredible value, and the opportunity to try wines that many people never knew existed. There are a variety of different factors that should be considered before choosing a wine club, and there are a wide variety of options to suit the needs of all wine lovers.

In this article, we will break down what you can expect when joining a wine club as well as explore the best wine clubs to join.

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Choosing the Best Wine Club for You

Choosing the right wine club can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying high quality bottles of wine, along with discounts and even gifts in some cases.

There are many different styles of wine clubs, ranging from groups hosted by local shops to large scale online subscriptions where wines are delivered by mail.

It is important to decide which offers and features are most important to you as a customer before weighing different wine club options, as there are a wide variety of different options that are best suited to different audiences.

Monthly Wine Budget

monthly wine budget

When it comes to choosing a new wine club, the cost is one of the most important factors for many wine enthusiasts. Certain customers are looking to find the best deals possible on new bottles of wine, while others are less concerned about price and more focused on quality.

Fortunately, there are many different wine clubs and monthly wine shipment services on the market today, and there is enough variance in price and business models to serve all different types of wine lovers.

Comparing the prices of different wine clubs and subscriptions can be difficult, as the comparisons are not always “apples to apples.” Different wine clubs use different pricing models and subscription length terms, which can be confusing and make it tough to compare them.

The best way to break down the costs of different wine clubs to compare them with one another is to find the monthly cost of each subscription. It is also helpful to check how many bottles of wine are included with each, and break down the average cost per bottle as well.

California Winery Advisor has assembled a helpful chart that breaks down the costs of many different popular wine clubs on the market today and organized them both by monthly cost and cost per bottle.

Many wine lovers use wine club subscriptions to fill their home cellars or personal wine coolers, thus negating the need to shop for wines locally. In these cases, it is important to think about how much your household spends on wine in an average month, and compare these numbers.

While the prices of some wine clubs may seem high at first glance, it is important to weigh the savings that can be found by planning properly when it comes to wine at dinner. Bringing a bottle of wine from a wine club to restaurants is a great way for wine lovers to save money.

The cost of wine when dining out comes with a significant upcharge that is often 200 to 300 percent that of the retail price. Having a fully stocked wine cooler at home makes it easy to plan ahead when it comes to eating out, and the corking fee at many restaurants is $10 and under.

Some of the most high end wine subscription clubs can cost hundreds of dollars per month, and nearly all of them provide good value on monthly or quarterly curated wines. With more expensive memberships, it is important to look at the price per bottle as well as the wine quality.

More affordable wine clubs can cost as low as $35-$50 per month and are great for casual wine enthusiasts who are looking to broaden their horizons. These lower priced options usually include one or two monthly bottles, which is perfect for casual wine drinkers.

Wine Club Purpose

wine club purpose

There are many different styles of wine clubs that are all designed with different purposes in mind. It is important to determine what you are looking for in a wine club before weighing all the different options, as doing so will make the decision-making process much more simple.

There are certain local wine clubs that are hosted by wine shops and retailers that feature monthly “meet ups” where members pick up their monthly wine allotments while being treated to information about that month’s choices along with wine tastings and snacks.

These locally based wine clubs are great for wine enthusiasts who enjoy social gatherings and talking wine with other like-minded individuals. If considering this style of wine club, it is important to consider where the monthly meet-ups take place, and how far they are from home!

There are other wine clubs that are hosted by local wineries, where members are treated to discounted bottles that are made in house. These options are best for wine lovers who know that they enjoy a certain brand, and are looking for savings on their monthly supply.

These winery-hosted wine clubs also offer members exclusive tasting at “private reserve” bottles and experimental blends that are not offered to the public. This is a great way to explore the entirety of a given wine producer while enjoying monthly meetups with other wine lovers.

Certain online subscriptions are purely dedicated to finding their customers the best possible deals on bottles of wine, and are less focused on the wine’s region or style. Other subscriptions are designed with exploration in mind, and aim to showcase bottles from unique worldly regions.

There are a handful of different wine subscription clubs that allow members to customize their monthly delivery by choosing from a rotating list of seasonally available wines. These are best for wine enthusiasts who are more “choosy” and only enjoy certain styles of wine.

There are also wine subscriptions that are primarily focused on offering members a wide array of different wines to sample at a low monthly price. These services often use “mini bottles,” which give members a few sips of wine as a sampler rather than full sized bottles.

Wine Style or Region

wine style or region

Different wine clubs specialize in different styles of wine, and it is important to select a wine club that predominantly features the types of wines that you enjoy. For fans of a certain producer, it is always worth checking their website to see if they offer any type of delivery subscription service.

Value focused wine club memberships tend to stick with new world wines that are most often produced in the United States. One can expect to find internationally recognizable wine grapes in these subscriptions, including California Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.

Fans of high end European wines from France and Italy should look for more “high end” wine clubs that feature reputable labels from well known regions. While it is not possible to see upcoming wine selections, many clubs will list previous months’ selections.

There are also highly specialized wine clubs that offer a different selection of one specific wine style each month. One of the most popular categories of these specialized wine clubs are Rosé focused wine subscriptions, which send members a different bottle of pink wine each month.

Another popular category of specialized wine club subscriptions features only sparkling wines. Certain sparkling wine clubs focus only on the iconic French region of Champagne, while others offer more variance with different bubbly styles from across the globe.

Discounts, Perks, and Extras

discounts, perks and extras

While discounts and perks may not be the first things many wine enthusiasts think about when comparing different wine clubs, they are extremely important considerations that can make a world of difference in the long run.

For example, certain wine clubs that are hosted by local retailers will offer an in-store discount on all purchases for wine club members. These savings can add up over time, especially when purchasing in large quantities for parties or large gatherings.

Discounts for wine club members are also often offered by local wineries who host their own clubs, as well as thoughtful perks like free snacks or appetizers when on premises. Many wineries with tasting rooms also offer free and informative monthly tastings to members.

Tobin James is a Californian wine producer that hosts one of the longest running and most popular wine club subscriptions in the state. This subscription is particularly well known for including high quality extras with their wine shipments, including luxury goods.

Extras that are included with wine subscriptions can vary from small snacks to larger items like high quality blankets and stemware. Some of the extras included in subscriptions are of significant value, and many of the items are great candidates for “regifting.”

Some other thoughtful extras that are often included are craft selections of smoked meats, cheeses, crackers, and olives which are hand selected to pair with the monthly wine selection. These thoughtful extras can add to the enjoyment of the monthly bottle selection significantly.

Introductory Offers and Incentives

introductory offers and incentives

Some of the least talked about factors when selecting a wine club that can make huge differences when it comes to savings and overall cost are introductory offers and incentives. These are usually either offered as one time deals or a discount on the monthly price.

Wine clubs that are in the business of expansion need to establish themselves by gathering a large crowd of members to subscribe. When wine clubs are trying to attract new members, they will often offer introductory deals to new members that can lead to significant savings.

In today’s competitive market, there are more wine club subscription companies than ever fighting for the same pool of customers. It is always best practice to take a few weeks before committing to any wine club to survey the landscape and check out the current offers.

Another program that many large scale wine clubs have employed is a referral program, where current members are awarded a discount or credit for inviting a friend to sign up. Oftentimes, these programs also extend a credit to the new customer as well.

One of the most popular referral programs on the market is the “Give $50, Get $50 Referral Program” offered by Martha Stewart Wine. These types of programs are great for both parties, as everyone enjoys a bit of savings along with their monthly wines.

Another popular incentive program that is employed by many different wine clubs is the “first month free” program, or something similar. It is often possible to receive multiple months of  a given wine club for free, as many services are eager to get you “in the door.”

Some of the best signup incentive programs for customers to take advantage of are deals or discounts that are apple to the monthly rate. It is often possible to “lock in” this introductory rate for the entirety of the wine subscription, leading to massive savings over time.

Top 5 Best Wine Clubs to Join Today

1. Vinebox – Widest Selection of Options

vinebox
Image: Wendy Forbes

Pros

  • Unique system that delivers small tubes of wine instead of bottles
  • Allows members to try smaller quantities of a wider selection of wines
  • Many different membership options for a variety of different palates
  • Ability to choose wine style, including red or white and dry or sweet
  • Hand curated selections from all over the world
  • Unique seasonal tasting boxes, including a wine advent calendar

Cons

  • Small bottles are not large enough for sharing with friends
  • No ability to hand select wines each month
  • No referral program or incentives besides free shipping
  • Small wine tubes can take a bit of getting used to

2. Winc Inc. – Best Value Subscription

winc inc.

Pros

  • Many different plans are moderately priced at as low as $30 per month
  • Online quiz allows the service to select the best wines for each individual
  • Members rate each monthly selection and choices change accordingly
  • No long term commitment and ability to take a break any given month
  • Specific vegan wine subscriptions are offered
  • Ability to choose wine styles and varietals

Cons

  • No ability to customize the monthly delivery
  • Value-driven wines are not always of the highest quality
  • Many selections are from lesser-known wine regions
  • No referral system or included gifts or extras

3. Firstleaf – Best Customizable Option

firstleaf
Image: First Leaf

Pros

  • Ability to preview and customize wine selections before they are shipped
  • Unique quiz system works to pair members with the best wines possible
  • Each bottle of wine is rated to increase monthly suggestion accuracy
  • Easy to use interface that is sleek and well designed
  • Each wine is broken down by characteristics like body, sweetness, and acidity
  • Great overall balance of value and wine choice

Cons

  • Six bottle shipments are too much for some wine enthusiasts
  • No gifts or extras included with monthly shipment
  • No referral program or large incentives for new member signup

4. SommSelect – Best For Wine Education

sommselect
Image: Somm Select

Pros

  • Artisanal wines that are hand selected by qualified wine professionals
  • Very educational service that works to broaden the horizons of members
  • Four different membership options for different types of wine lovers
  • High quality wines from both respected producers and small labels
  • Selections tend to be from some of the most solid wine regions on earth
  • Large selection of well renowned French and Italian wine selections

Cons

  • More expensive than many other services on the market
  • No ability to customize monthly options or change selections
  • No wine quiz, reviews, or personalization for palate preferences

5. Primal Wine Club – Best For Natural Wines

primal wine club
Image: Primal Wine

Pros

  • One of the largest online selections of natural wines
  • Nearly all wines are also biodynamic
  • Different membership options for white, red, and mixed wine boxes
  • Free shipping for members from the company’s bottle shop
  • Ability to cancel any time with no long term contracts
  • Selection of many artisanal wines that can not be found anywhere else

Cons

  • No option to customize or change the monthly selections
  • Some of the monthly offerings can be a bit obscure
  • One of the pricier options considering the value of included wines

Final Thoughts

There are a wide selection of different companies on the market today that offer high quality wine club subscriptions. While each service has its own unique features and benefits, Vinebox is the most interesting wine club on the market today that is suitable for the vast majority of customers.

Vinebox allows adventurous wine lovers to sample a wide array of different hand-picked selections from around the world at a fantastic value. The small tube-like bottles that this one-of-a-kind wine club uses allows them to offer members tastes of many different types of wine in an economical package that also saves on shipping and reduces environmental impact.