The California Wine Club is the ideal choice if you’re a fan of wines from the Golden State’s AVAs and labels from the Northwest. It has a portfolio of excellent, wallet-friendly plans from local boutique producers plus plenty of member perks all delivered with a personal service.
The California Wine Club Overview
The California Wine Club started out in 1990 as a mom-and-pop company and had grown into a national affair without losing its personal touch. It has built up a network of fine producers throughout California, the US Northwest, and in iconic international wine regions.
What is the California Wine Club?
The California Wine Club was started in 1990 by Bruce and Pam Boring who had discovered a rich range of boutique wineries in California and wanted to share the wines from these hidden gems with a wider network. To this day, the club only partners with the finest wineries and only selects the best wines for its range after doing a round of personal visits and tastings. It offers a choice selection of memberships that reflect award-winning artisanal winemaking in the US and abroad.
How Does The California Wine Club work?
The California Wine Club is big on regularly introducing new wineries to its members and, to this end, showcases a different producer each month through its five different plans. Each subscriber gets a personal wine expert to guide them to the best wines for their tastes plus each shipment is accompanied by educational notes on the wines. Members who are visiting California can take advantage of the club’s savvy on the region through an excursion-planning service called “Wine Country Travel Trips”. If you prefer a more casual visit to the Golden State, you benefit from VIP passes to tasting events at partner wineries. The California Wine Club also offers a range of gift options for loved ones who are fellow fans of the grape. All in all, it has all of the features you could want from a wine club: unique, high-quality wines, great customer service, and plenty of perks.
How Much Does The California Wine Club cost?
Our Rating 4/5
Gold Medal Wine Club plan prices range from pocket-friendly to pricy but that's because it's dealing with some premium wines. I've given it a score of 4 for price.
The club offers six membership plans with different themes. Prices start at $41.95 for the Premier Series Wine Club and go up to $231 per case for the Aged Cabernet Series Wine Club. Each wine club can ship monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly. With some clubs, you can go for a double shipment of four bottles which works out as roughly twice the cost.
About the Wine
Our Rating 5/5
True to its name, California Wine Club sources labels first and foremost from the Golden State although there are a handful of international wines and from the Pacific Northwest. They're all amazing quality so it's another 5.
True to its name, most of the California Wine Club’s range comes from a network of top-tier boutique Golden State wineries that it visits personally and vets before adding its wares to its portfolio. A few wines come from the US Northwest and international producers. Below are some examples of the brands the club works with:
Château D’Agel is one of the club’s international wineries, found in France’s Minervois on the Massif Central slopes. Wines are made in rich, full-bodied, sun-soaked styles from typical local grapes Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Carignan.
French Bar Wines is a fourth-generation family winery located in the Sierra foothills. Implementing sustainable farming in its vineyards, it produces Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah, and a red blend – a style that California has built a fine reputation for.
Slyd Wines is an urban winery in Los Angeles that sources its fruit from nearby Santa Barbara. Its wines are mostly reds made from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and are limited-edition as it only produces 1,000 cases a year.
The Ojai Vineyard operates in Santa Barbara County and features a huge and interesting range of Syrahs and Pinot Noirs plus Chardonnay and Viognier all aged to perfection.
This Columbia Valley AVA winery in Washington state, Cedergreen Cellars crafts wines from Bordeaux, Beaujolais, and Loire varieties using methods that produce pure, bright wines in a New World style.
The California Wine Club Membership Benefits
Our Rating 5/5
As well as stocking top-notch wines, California Wine Club offers member perks, discounts, a satisfaction guarantee, and a choice of delivery options. It gets a big 5 for membership benefits.
The California Wine Club offers numerous benefits to subscribers including perks and discounts, a satisfaction guarantee, and a range of shipping options.
As a member of this club, you have peace of mind that you are getting the finest California wines thanks to partnerships with boutique, award-winning wineries whose reds and whites are not available at your local wine store. The club website features heaps of information about collaborating wineries and labels to enhance your experience.
Perks of membership include VIP entrance to featured wineries when you’re in the locale where you can meet the winemaker and taste the wares. If you’re short on space at home, the California Wine Club also offers wine storage facilities for its subscribers.
You can cancel your subscription plan whenever you wish and there are no hidden fees. Simply contact customer service via phone, online chat, or email. If you prefer independence, there’s also the option of canceling yourself in your personal account.
In the unlikely event that you dislike your wine, or it arrives in bad condition, the California Wine Club will reship a replacement right away thanks to its “Love It” guarantee. Contact the club and let them know what the problem is. You don’t even have the obligation to send the bad bottle back.
Never be stuck on a birthday or anniversary again with the California Wine Club’s gift selection. Whatever the occasion, you can send any of the plans as a gift and select the number of shipments you want. Each case arrives with a beautiful guide on the featured winery and wines.
The California Wine Club Membership Programs
You can take your pick from six membership plans each with a different theme like the “International Series” or “Aged Cabernets”. The wines in each plan are hand-selected by the California Wine Club team. The “Case Club Series” comprises 12 bottles while the others feature two bottles. This can be doubled upon request.
The California Wine Club Membership Length
There’s no minimum contract length for any of the clubs so you can cancel whenever you want to. When you sign up, you specify the shipping frequency you want and, for some clubs, you can opt to receive cases until you cancel.
Can I Give The California Wine Club Membership as A Gift?
Our Rating 5/5
You can choose any of California Wine Club's plans as a gift earning it a score of 5.
Each of the club’s membership plans is available as a gift. When you purchase a gift subscription, you select the number of deliveries you’d like to send from one to 12. Each gift shipment arrives with a pamphlet detailing the tasting notes and food pairing tips. You can also email or print out a special card template announcing your gift.
The California Wine Club Packaging
Our Rating 5/5
Each shipment includes California Wine Club's newsletter which features interesting information about local wineries, your wines, interviews with wine personalities, and more. It's all you need so it gets a 5.
There’s no special information about the California Wine Club Packaging but each shipment includes the club newsletter Uncorked® which features interesting background information on the winery, wines, California's producer scene, and interviews with fascinating people in the local industry. This booklet is also sent with gift memberships.
Price and Shipping
Our Rating 4/5
Shipping takes anywhere from two days to three weeks depending on where you live so it's a 4.
Once processed, wine shipping takes anywhere from two days to three weeks depending on the shipping address location. You receive a tracking notification as soon as your shipment arrives in your area with the local carrier. With every re-order of your favorite wine, you only pay $1 for shipping.
Skip A Month
There’s no information on the California Wine Club website about a “skip a month” policy. Customer service will be able to advise.
Customer Service and contact availability
Our Rating 5/5
You can choose form several handy ways of contacting Gold Medal Wine Club. It's an old club that's big on old fashioned service so it gets a 5.
There are several ways of getting in touch with the California Wine Club so just pick the method that suits you best. There’s a toll-free and local phone number plus fax. Additionally, you can get in touch by email, live chat, or mail. Queries received outside business hours will be dealt with on the next workday.
Our Rating 5/5
Easy, penalty-free cancelation earns Gold Medal Wine Club a score of 5.
You are free tocancel your subscription plan any time you want to. There’s no minimum contract length to any plans so there’s no penalty when you cancel. Get in touch with customer service by phone, online chat, or email. You can also end your membership via your personal account.
The California Wine Club has been running for three decades so knows its customers and has refined its product to suit their tastes – notably as fans of Golden State wines. As such, it’s hard to pinpoint any stand-out disadvantage to membership. One downside is it only has two clubs that focus on wines outside California – the Northwest and International Series. However, the name of the club is a clue to where its emphasis lies so no surprises there! Another negative (and it’s a slim one) is that you can’t take advantage of its VIP passes to boutique California partner wineries if you don’t live locally or visit so you may feel like you’re losing out.
Differences from the competitors
The main difference between The California Wine Club and clubs like WSJ which has an international range of labels is its selection. This long-running club focuses on small wineries in the Golden State that are doing interesting things that the club’s wine experts have personally visited and deemed an excellent addition to its portfolio. Other clubs like Winc also source the bulk of their wines from unique, artisanal California producers but how it builds a shipment differs from the California Wine Club. The former uses tasting tech to inform which bottles go into each case while the latter has six differently-themed clubs so the selection is already made.
We think the California Wine Club has loads going for it. It’s been operating successfully for years so clearly has developed a good service and wide member base. It offers money-saving perks and offers great customer service with a no-penalty cancelation option and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Its subscription plans show a lot of thought about what members want and it’s built up firm partnerships with top-quality wineries. The bottom line is, if you admire California wines, you won’t go wrong with this club. However, if you like regional variety in your club shipments, it’s probably better to look at a club that works with producers from around the world. Otherwise, we give the California Wine Club a big thumbs up.