My First Wine Club (And What IS a Wine Club, Anyways?)

I have some very exciting news: I joined my first wine club! I’ve been looking around at wine clubs for a while now; I can really only afford one wine club, and I wanted it to be at absolutely the right winery. Most wineries, I can use my industry discount, so I wouldn’t be joining for the discounts, which are often slightly lower than the standard industry discounts. Instead, I looked for wineries with clubs that offered extra benefits like member events or exclusive wines. My favorite winery, Rulo, doesn’t have a wine club, and the other wineries I’d be interested in were too expensive.

Then it hit me: I should join Proper Winerys wine club! Why? Because they make less than 500 cases  a year (which is teeny-tiny; for comparison, one of the wineries I work for produces over 50,000 cases a year), and are poised to become The Next Big Thing. We heard about them from Full Pull, which is a company that sends out emails with great wine offers. Paul Zitarelli, the “Owner and Head Scribe) is a great wine writer, and my mom (who is on the mailing list) forwards me a lot of his emails because we both enjoy reading his descriptions of wine. When he sent out this email, my boyfriend and I were intrigued, but we were a little skeptical about buying wine online that we’d never tried before.Proper Winery has its vineyards in the Walla Walla AVA, but don’t operate out of Walla Walla and don’t have a tasting room. Around Christmas, though, my boyfriend surprised me with a couple bottles he’d secretly ordered, and we cracked one open while my parents were visiting for the holidays.

 I think my palate was a little fatigued by all the wine we tasted during the family’s visit, so I feel like I couldn’t give a good description of the wine, but I thought it was great, with the savory qualities that Syrahs from “The Rocks” area south of Walla Walla are becoming famous for. In any case, I could see why it’s been getting glowing reviews, and also why Paul at Full Pull would think that it might quickly become difficult to come by, much like Cayuse and Reynvaan who also make limited quantities of great wines from the same vineyard area.

So we jumped on it and joined the club so that if they do close the mailing list, we will still be able to get their wine. They intend to keep production small, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to cap their wine club at a certain number. I’m very excited to be able to keep an eye on this winery and see what they do in the coming years!

Side note: What exactly is a wine club, anyways?

For those of you unfamiliar with wine clubs, a wine club is a program that nearly every winery has these days. In exchange for discounts, exclusive wines or offers, and club member parties, wine club members usually agree to buy a certain amount of wine a year. Sometimes members can choose which wines they’d like to buy, but it’s frequently up to the winemaker which wines will get sent out in each shipment. It’s a great way for wineries to ensure a certain amount of sales each year, and member get some good discounts and benefits.

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