To join a wine club or not to join a wine club, that is the question – Mama’s Rubric.

You’re sitting outside at a beautiful vineyard sipping delicious wine, surrounded by vines ripe with juicy grapes. You’ve tasted through all of the wines on the tasting menu and you are then given information on how to be a part of the wine club. Should you join? Let’s be honest, it’s hard to say no when your inhibitions are lowered after tasting wine and you’re feeling relaxed. Something in us just wants to belong. But you might be making a mistake. What to do! Here is the grid, or rubric if you will, of how I make the decision on whether or not to join a wine club.

#1 Do you like EVERY SINGLE wine on the tasting menu? Not most, ALL. I don’t join a wine club unless I like everything they make. Don’t settle. There are hundreds of wineries out there to choose from. Hold off until you find your favorite.

#2 Does the winery allow you to choose your allocation? Most wine clubs ship twice a year and send an email letting you know which wines will be in your shipment. If they let you choose, they will give you a deadline for when you need to let them know what you want. Here’s why this is important. I love Frank Family Vineyards in Napa. Even though they make some of my favorite wines I am no longer a member of their club because they don’t let me choose. I was consistently being sent Pinot Noir which I just don’t care for. You don’t want wine sitting in storage that you don’t want to drink.

#3 Can I afford this wine club? I know, this is a bummer. I’ve been to many wineries where I so wish I could join, but it’s just not in the budget. My husband is very helpful with this 😜 so I don’t get in over my head. When I get the urge to join another club he reminds me that I will have to “unjoin” one of my other clubs. So it’s a constant reevaluating. This is a good exercise because it assures you that you’re in the right clubs. I currently belong to 6 wine clubs. Yep, that’s pushing it, but most of them have good price points. I have one “splurge club” but I’m on the lowest club level they offer, and they only ship 2 bottles at a time. It’s just too good to say no!

4. Never EVER join a wine club on your first visit! I have made this mistake way too many times. Here’s why: Let’s say you decide to take a trip to Napa and want to visit three wineries in a day. (Some people do more, I can now only do 2 in a day.) You get to the 3rd winery and are amazed at how good all the wine is. So you join the club. The wine arrives and you can’t wait to drink it. You take a couple of sips and it tastes terrible! What happened? That, my friends, is what I like to call the “Third Winery of the Day Syndrome.” Your palate is prepped from your previous two winery visits and everything tastes good at the third one. Those of us who are rule followers and people-pleasers are stuck for a year in a club whose wine we don’t even like. Of course it’s not an official contract so you can get out of it if you email them, but that’s not fun. So what should you do instead? Buy a couple of bottles to take home. If you still like it you can always join via email.

I like wine clubs because there is no cost to join, you get a discount from 10-20% on the wines, you get access to wines that are only sold in the tasting room, and you get invited to fun pick-up parties that usually involve food and wine. Many wineries also host special wine pairing dinners and if you belong to the club you get a discount on them. You also get to meet some great people who enjoy the same wine as you do. The down side of joining a wine club is that the shipping can get kind of expensive (unless the winery offers free shipping) and someone over 18 must be home to sign for alcohol. Many people get around this by having their wine shipped to their work. You will have to decide if the pros of joining a wine club outweigh the cons. For me it’s a no-brainer. 🍷

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