In 2005 I took a memorable trip to Napa Valley, not my first or last, with good friends. By the time we got to Joseph Phelps for our reserved tasting and lunch, I was in love with the (wine) world once again. But this time, I decided to take it home with me. Or, to be exact, I convinced my husband to take it home for me.
It went something like this:
Me: “Wow, Eddie sweetie, look at these pretty fleece jackets. The best we’ve seen so far. A little pricey, but if you get a membership you get a discount.”
Him: “Are you cold? Do you need a new sweatshirt today? Or, perchance (he couldn’t have used that word but it fits now) you are really just after the wine?”
Me: “Well, my b-day is in April, a couple of months away, but…as it’s always when you deal with our taxes I kind of get…you know…screwed. This could be my present for a few years, you wouldn’t even have to think about it.” (Knowing full well by April 2006 – he would completely forget.)
Him: “Well, we could get Insignia for a great discount, along with the Cab and Mistral…” (wavering)
Me: “Oh, look, they have a fleece in forest green to match your other dozen!”
Eavesdropping GOOD Friends: “This is by far the best wine we’ve tasted…yes, go for the membership.” (Thinking they know they will get more Joseph Phelps this way – from us!)
After that was settled I enjoyed at least five years…if not more…of membership. Wines I could give as a gift when a dozen of one varietal arrived, wines I could drink as there was so much to store now and special wines that I could cellar or save for occasions.
I don’t have many wine club memberships anymore. One reason is that I taste so much that I can purchase what I’ve tasted and liked, as opposed to relying on someone else to select my wines.
But, for those of you that don’t write about wine for a living, there are several reasons why wine club memberships do work.
- If you don’t have the time to taste and shop the wine still arrives on your doorstep like a gift you forgot was coming.
- You are supporting a winery that you want to see stay open for a long time when new competitors are springing up all of the time.
- Being a member, and agreeing to purchase a particular allocation, will not only get you your wine at a discount, but will also ensure your status if that winery is ever in demand.
- Pairing dinners, private tastings, pick-up parties, VIP treatment and other member-only events.
- Usually the clubs are free to join, and there are more than one tier so you can cater it to your price range.
Local SCV Wine clubs I recommend based on what I’ve read, heard or tasted. I did not list wineries whose clubs are over allocation already:
Pulchella Winery: (Local winemakers) http://www.pulchellawinery.com/http___shop.pulchellawinery.html
Valencia Wine Co: (Local and an International Club on Amazon) http://www.valenciawine.com/club.asp
Wine 661: (Local) http://www.wine661.com/
Paso Wine Club: (highly recommended) http://www.buypasowine.com
Villa Creek: (Love their Rhone varietals) http://www.villacreekstore.com/the-clubs
Terry Hoage: (Again for the Rhones) https://www2.cleverconcepts.net/terryhoagevineyards/wine-club/index.php
Napa, Calistoga, Sonoma
Joseph Phelps Winery: http://www.josephphelps.com/about-phelps-preferred/
The Wine Guerrilla: (Sonoma Zinfandels) http://www.wineguerrilla.com/wine-club
Phifer Pavitt Wine: http://www.phiferpavittwine.com
Terra Valentine: http://www.TerraValentine.com
Schramsberg (sparkling): http://www.schramsberg.com
HALL Rutherford: http://www.hallwines.com/hall-rutherford
Robert Sinskey Vineyards: http://www.robertsinskey.com
Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves VIP Club: http://www.deldottovineyards.com/VIP-Club.aspx
Wall Street Journal wine club: (Highly recommended) http://www.wsjwine.com/
Joseph Phelps Tasting
2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Appearance – Deep ruby center to a creamy colored edge, opaque.
Aroma – From inches away I got a fruit bowl of red to dark fruits: strawberry, red and black cherry, plum, something stewed. Then up closer: notes of cinnamon, red licorice, black pepper fresh from a peppermill, cigar, red, rich and mineral-filled earth, toasted oak.
Taste – Nice peppery dark fruit, nice viscosity/chewy/mouth feel, smokiness on the back palate and finish.
Conclusion – Drink NOW. We have been routinely letting our Napa Cab go ten years in the cellar. But, maybe due to winemakers trying to appeal to that drink-it-now palate, or climate conditions, this was ready. Not too much tannin, and great, developed fruit.