B.C. Wine Culture

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Every winery seems to have its own club: Why should you become a member?

You know that feeling when you rush to the wine store for that must-have bottle of B.C. patio Riesling, steak-dinner red or celebration-ready bubbly and find it’s sold out… everywhere? That’s when it pays to get on the inside track by joining your favourite winery’s wine club. You’ll find out about new releases first, have wines delivered directly to you and get a load of other perks that range from recipes, pairings and winemaker’s notes to accessing member-only online communities. A membership—usually no more than the cost of the wine—also makes a great gift for oenophile pals.

The traditional club model requires you to pre-purchase a set amount annually of wine, which might be delivered in four- to 12-bottle batches curated by the winemaker, one to four times a year. You can tailor your preferences to some extent: the choice of white, red, mixed and premium shipments is common, for instance. Meyer Family Vineyard offers seven assortments to its members, and Blue Grouse calls its three tiers “Grouchy, Grouchier and Grouchiest.” The Synchromesh wine-club website just states, “If there is something that you really don’t want, we can make some adjustments.”

Other clubs allow members to curate their own cases, such as Blue Mountain, Okanagan Crush Pad and Encore Vineyard wineries. Liquidity’s Equity Tasting Club even ships 200-millilitre mini bottles for tasting before making selections! Some, like Stag’s Hollow, have club-only bottlings. Others, such as Culmina, may include large-format and magnum bottles.

Regardless of the model, the club deal is usually sweetened with discounts on the wine and shipping for wine club orders and other purchases.

For fans of highly sought-after brands that quickly sell out at the winery and at retail, club membership can be the best way to secure your favourite wines.

For fans of highly sought-after brands that quickly sell out at the winery and at retail, club membership can be the best way to secure your favourite wines. Bella Wines sends its small-batch bubbles to club members at various membership tiers that are capped at just 25 to 100 members (with wait lists for some). At Mission Hill, the top tiers of its wine club get bottles of cellar-bait Oculus—not to mention the best lakeside tables at its Terrace restaurant, where a complimentary appetizer and glass of wine await members.

Winery restaurant discounts, front-of-the-line event access and VIP tastings are other common perks that pay off if you visit wine country often, or are lucky enough to live there part or full time. The ultimate locals-only perk comes via joining Red Rooster’s Adopt a Row club: twice a year you actually learn hands-on viticulture at the winery, and you get a mixed case of wine—all for $325.

For non-residents, clubs like Orofino’s offer members discounts to its guest suites. Black Hills Estates offers hotel deals with its partners in Osooyos. Tantalus has a Pioneer Club Concierge that will recommend Kelowna accommodation, dining and attraction options. Laughing Stock satisfies its Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary club members with local tasting events in their cities.

For commitment-phobic types, consider that for many top-notch B.C. wineries, all you have to do is sign up for a free e-newsletter to stay on top of what’s new and when to order. If you trust your wine rack to your local store, many B.C. wine retailers are getting in on the action, with clubs—and exclusive releases and perks—of their own.

There’s never been a better time to join the club.

Charlene Rooke writes about and drinks wine in Vancouver while working toward WSET Level 3 certification. Her family has Okanagan roots as former Kelowna orchardists, and she loves dry, aromatic white wines.

Charlene Rooke writes about and drinks wine in Vancouver while working toward WSET Level 3 certification. Her family has Okanagan roots as former Kelowna orchardists, and she loves dry, aromatic white wines.

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