It’s an exciting time for American wine, with more high-quality, interesting bottles available than ever before — not only from older, established regions, but from those newer to the wine scene like Texas and Michigan. But, depending on where you live, it’s not always easy to find these wines.
Regionally focused wine clubs are working to change that. By curating wines from specific areas, these multi-winery clubs give curious wine lovers across the country access to bottles that may not be stocked on their local shelves. During a time of limited travel and tourism, specialty clubs help drinkers discover new producers from established and emerging regions with customized shipments delivered directly to their doorsteps. They also provide a great opportunity to support local wineries and small businesses as they continue to endure the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, wildfires, and more.
Here are seven of the most intriguing regional American wine clubs.
In 2014, Carrie Wynkoop founded this subscription wine club to connect wine lovers with smaller Oregon wineries. Named for one of the area codes that serve northwestern Oregon, Cellar 503 features wines from small producers throughout the state’s 19 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), such as Leah Jørgensen Cellars, Troon Vineyard, Teutonic Wine Company, and Craft Wine Co.
Wynkoop handpicks the wines included in each shipment, which are themed around a region, season, grape variety, winemaking style, or an aspect of Oregon wine culture. Options include a red, white, or mixed wine club, and monthly costs are $45-$55 for two bottles or $90-$110 for four, plus shipping. See past shipments here.
Each month, the Cork Report founder and East Coast wine advocate Lenn Thompson curates a shipment of wines (and occasionally ciders) from regions outside California, Oregon, and Washington. Selections have included bottles from the Finger Lakes, Long Island, Maryland, Virginia, and Michigan.
“These aren’t bin ends or mass-produced, factory wine garbage,” says Thompson. “These are real wines, made by real people … the wines that I’m drinking myself and most excited about.” Partnering with the Cellar D’Or in Ithaca, Thompson picks two wines each month that never exceed $60 total (before shipping). See past shipments here.
When the Virginia Wine of the Month Club started in 1988, there were only 34 wineries in Virginia. Now, there are more than 250. As the name suggests, the monthly shipments highlight one wine each month that showcases the diversity of Virginia winemaking. Featured wineries have included Barboursville Vineyards, Chatham Vineyards, Effingham Manor, and Horton Vineyards.
Subscription options start at $25 plus tax for a single bottle, and expand to two-bottle ($40), three-bottle ($50), and four-bottle ($63-$66) shipments — and beyond. Members also get a free subscription to the Virginia Wine Journal.
Amie Nemec, founder of Perspective Cellars in Fredericksburg, Texas, selects a unique batch of wines that compares Texas bottlings to similar wines from other regions. Each shipment includes one Texas wine, one Old World wine, and one New World wine. The quarterly clubs include a Cab of the Month option and the Flight Club, which highlights a specific varietal or blend, winemaking style, or bottling technique in each shipment. The average price for each allocation is $100.
Launched earlier this fall by the Maryland Wineries Association, the Maryland Wine Explorer Club offers a chance for Maryland locals to learn more about their state’s wineries. The organization’s tasting panel selects wines that highlight local terroir from the more than 100 wineries located around the state. The quarterly red and white wine clubs are available in three-bottle (around $100-$150) or six-bottle shipments (around $200-$300). Currently, the club is only available to Maryland residents.
This club isn’t focused on a particular region, but rather on wines made by women across the country. In 2017, Amy Bess Cook launched Woman-Owned Wineries (WOW) to elevate other women working in wine, and as an effort to build equity in a male-dominated industry. Every month, the club partners with a different woman-owned American winery to share its wines with members.
To date, the club has offered selections from 18 wineries in four states, including Day Wines in Oregon, Tessier Winery and Inconnu Wine in California, Damsel Cellars in Washington, and Wine for the People in Texas. Stay tuned for wines from regions such as Idaho, Michigan, Maryland, and New York in 2021. Bottles are shipped monthly and include three wines from the same winery for $92, plus shipping. See past shipments here.
The Tasting Room, located in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market, exclusively showcases Washington wines in its club, which ships twice a year (October and April). Subscription options include four bottles (around $120 per shipment), six bottles (around $180), or a full case (around $360). All memberships are available with a red-wine-only option for drinkers eager to explore the stunning Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines the state is known for.
Published: December 9, 2020