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California Wine Club – Full Review

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  • Company: California Wine Club
  • Available on:
  • Price Range: $39.5 – $255.61

What Are They About?

The California Wine Club is celebrating its 25th year as a wine subscription service with a focus on California’s boutique vineyards.  A small, family owned company, they pride themselves in a providing wines based on their experiences locally.  The small company makes sure to visit, get to know, and taste at local vineyards and then selects a featured winery of the month and selects one red and one white to ship to club members that month.  Most club members do not have access to these wines regularly because of their small size.

MORE values relationships and women.  They not only pick wines that represent the brilliance of women in the wine world but also provide events with influential women of wine, and partner perks that come along with membership.

The California Wine Club deals in California wines except for its International Series membership which brings amazing wines from around the world – be it Riesling from Germany, Shiraz from  Australia or Red Blends from South Africa.

Membership Overview (5 Plans)

Premier Series

$39.5For Every Order
  • Delivery Options: monthly, alternating months, quarterly
  • 2 Bottles in Each Delivery
  • Choice of Wine: 1 Red & 1 White or 2 Reds or 2 Whites
  • $39.95 + shipping ($19.98/bottle)

Signature Series

$121

- $255.61
For Every Order
  • Delivery Options: monthly, alternating months, quarterly
  • Choice of 2/3/4 Bottles in Each Delivery
  • 2 Bottles: $121 + Shipping ($60.5/bottle)
    3 Bottles: $200.61+ Shipping ($66.87/bottle)
    4 Bottles: $255.61+ Shipping ($62.75/bottle)

International Series

$66

- $71
For Every Order
  • Delivery Options: monthly, alternating months, quarterly
  • 2 Bottles in Each Delivery
  • Choice of Wine: 1 Red & 1 White or 2 Reds
  • 1 Red & White: $66 + shipping ($33/bottle) 2 Reds: $71 + Shipping ($35.5/bottle)

Aged Cabernet Series

$219For every order
  • Delivery Options: monthly, alternating months, quarterly
  • 2 Bottles in Each Delivery
  • 2 Bottles for $219 + Shipping ($109.5/bottle)

Pacific Northwest Series

$77For every order
  • Delivery Options: monthly, alternating months, quarterly
  • 2 Bottles in Each Delivery
  • Choice of Wine: 1 Red & 1 White or 2 Reds
  • 1 Red & White: $77 + shipping ($38.5/bottle) 2 Reds: $77 + shipping ($38.5/bottle)

What You Get

Members receive:

  • The choice of shipments that arrive monthly, every other month, or quarterly..
  • The choice of mixed, all red or all white shipments.
  • Uncorked, the newsletter of The California Wine Club.  Each newsletter arrives with information about the vineyard, the latest news and information from California’s wine regions, tasting notes, pairing suggestions and recipes right from the winery.
  • $1 shipping on reorders and orders from The California Wine Club, orders must be half or full cases to qualify for the $1 shipping.
  • VIP Tours, tastings and other offerings from partner vineyards.  A great perk if travel to California’s wine country is an option.
  • Wine experts who answer questions, make suggestions, and help with anything wine-related.
  • 100% guarantee – in the rare event a bottle is damaged or broken or a wine has flaws (corked, etc), or if you do not like a particular wine, the club will replace the bottle free of charge!

For many consumers a club such as this is a great option because it is a small, cottage industry with about 22 employees, including the owners, and with absolutely NO outsourcing of work.  Everyone who answers the phone, packages the wine, and handles the business is personally connected to and invested in The California Wine Club.  Talk about supporting local businesses!

Why it Works & What Could be Better

Positives
  • The Choices – With 5 different levels, frequency options. and the option for all red, all white, and mixed shipments members can take control of their membership and craft a box that works exactly for them.  Some members choose multiple levels to enjoy hand picked international and local California wines.
  • The Cancellation Policy – There are no contracts meaning members may cancel at any time. Members are only responsible for shipments that have been sent out.
  • The Perks – While paying shipping can be pricey, the $1 shipping on half and full cases makes up for it.
  • Pricing – Members are given a break on costs when ordering more bottles in the signature series.
  • Freight Forwarding – Because The California Wine Club contracts with a freight forwarder they can ship anywhere in the United States including Alaska and Hawaii – this is rare.  Most wine clubs cannot ship to significant portion of the United States due to state legislated prohibitions on shipping alcohol.

Negatives
  • Better Explanations – It’s a minor thing, but the California Wine Club touts that members can choose between all red, all white, and a ½ and ½ option however they do not include what happens when a shipment has three bottles.
  • Communication – The California Wine Club is lax about answering inquiries both via email and tweet.  This is likely due to their small number of employees however their website claims “excellent customer service”.
  • Variety – If you sign up for an all red or all white subscription you will receive two of the same wines each time you receive a shipment because California Wine Club selects a red and a white to feature each month.
  • Hidden(ish) fee – When signing up as a member there is a confusing message regarding what appears to be an additional shipment, possibly every 4-6 weeks, at the same rate as the club (we ordered the $39.95 membership).  This means you could be charged double over the course of the year to receive extra, special, wines.  Be sure to OPT OUT if you don’t want extra, unexpected charges.
  • Sticker Shock – While the Premium Series seems to be a reasonable $20/bottle adding shipping raises the cost to about $26.50/bottle – be sure to check out the shipping rates to your home before signing up!

FAQ

Can I Order This As A Gift?

Yes!  Make sure that you tell the receiver of the gift, though, so that they get the tracking information.  We recommend this because whomever signs for the package must be 21 years old.

When Will I Be Billed?

Monthly members are billed right before their wine ships, bi-monthly and quarterly members are booked during the months of their shipping.  If you purchase a gift subscription you will be billed up front for the number of months purchased.

Can I order this internationally?  

The California Wine Club can handle international orders – but you must call them to set this up (877.234.5598).  Keep in mind that the shipping costs for sending wine internationally are excessive.  Further, wine shipped internationally is at risk of exposure to extreme temperatures.

Can I join The California Wine Club Where I Live?

According to the website, The California Wine Club can deliver to all fifty states due to a contract with a freight forwarder.  This is a HUGE bonus for those of us who live in states where alcohol cannot normally be sent!

All In All

California is an exceptional region for wines and a club focused on small, family owned producers is a great way to learn about the region.  This club has lots of options for frequency and amount, can be cancelled at any time and can ship anywhere in the United States – all major perks.  Whether as a personal membership or as a gift for a friend you’ll rest assured knowing that you’re getting curated, boutique wines that are high quality and never bulk wines.  The shipping costs are significant, and something to consider.  If you think you will offset the shipping costs due to ordering wine directly from the club getting $1 shipping on cases and half cases is a steal!

Nancy Koziol

Nancy Koziol is a wine writer specializing in wine news, culture, politics, and emerging regions. She has traveled throughout various wine regions and constantly strives to deepen her understanding and appreciation of the holistic experience of wine, from seed to glass. Nancy writes for a variety of wine publications spanning everything from how to make amazing Sangria to understanding the ecological impact of winemaking. She lives in Vermont where she is developing an appreciation for hybrid grapes - something she never thought would happen - and obsessing over orange wines.

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