Can a wine club be exclusive, limited to a few hundred members, hosts private special events, make great wines and be non-snobby?
I added that last point because the ATTITUDE you encounter in some wineries is a real turn-off, at least to me. (Are you listening, Napa Valley?)
Some people may think being made to feel uncomfortable and being talked down to by some twit on a script is part of the wine club deal. And attending over-subscribed winery events with boring speeches is the trade-off for buying expensive wines.
A good club, we can all agree, offers something more than high-priced, hard to find wines. The personal service should be attentive and the events should be more than tasting wines and listening to a sales pitch.
But membership should also be a positive experience, as in fun and a rewarding experience, as in learning.
The educational element is all too often non-existent in wine clubs today.
Drinking wine is easy; thinking about it as in expanding your knowledge, well, that’s a different thing.
So, if you share my interest in a wine club that has it all, except the attitude, look no further.
The answer is a new winery named Clarice, located in Sonoma County.
This is the new venture of a seasoned pro, Adam Lee, who founded Siduri Wines in the early 1990s and came to know every unusual Pinot Noir vineyard from Oregon to Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey. And Santa Barbara. And San Luis Obispo. Well, you get the idea.
I was among his many fans who enjoyed Siduri Pinot Noirs because each was a lesson in its place of origin. Yes, they were great studies in “terroir.” Still are.
I also liked the Syrahs made under the Novy label. Make that: loved them.
Having sold Siduri in 2015 to Jackson Family, Adam has been working on a new brand and a unique wine club concept.
The concept has 3 key elements: fine wines for members only, educational discussions, and community.
It is limited to 625 members, and the wines are offered only to members.
Here’s the deal:
“As part of the Clarice Wine Community, members will enjoy two exclusive parties a year, one focusing on the Clarice Pinot Noirs and the other spotlighting a fellow winemaker and their wines, during which members will learn about their viticulture and winemaking, taste their wines, and receive special discounts. Finally, members will receive a case of Clarice Pinot Noir as part of their membership.”
Membership fee is $964.00 a year. But is it payable in six monthly installments.
The case will be available each October. The first vintage was 2017.
Granted, plunking down $160 a month is a big commitment, and once you begin, well, you are in.
The add-on to me is the personal touch in the educational programs. Members will learn about many facets of winemaking such as oak barrels, how they are made and what they add to wine.
Better to let Adam explain the educational aspect:
“From vineyard management and barrel making, to winery accounting and wine distribution — and so much more — you’ll learn from and interact with the true leaders of wine. In addition, you’ll gain access to a growing library of wine-related articles, written by a who’s who of industry experts.”
So, you will earn what the “MT” designation on an oak barel means.
Also, Clarice will offer private social media forums to handle members’ questions or concerns about wine and restaurants, or in Adam’s words:
“Wondering which restaurants have the best wine lists? Need help deciding what to add to your cellar? Join our private social media groups to share knowledge and recommendations.”
To me, that says they are willing to put a ton of effort into making members happy and a part of the family or community. The number of members is limited by the amount of wine produced each year.