Join the club

La Dolce Vita: a regular submission from Lorne Eckersley, publisher of the Creston Valley Advance, a Black Press publication

On a dreary grey day recently a box was delivered to my office by courier. One glance at the size and shape of the box immediately made the day brighter. It contained, I knew without even checking the label, a selection of a half dozen bottles from one of my favourite wineries.

As I drove home later that day with the box on the seat beside me, I thought back to my first experience with a wine club, probably about 20 years ago. The concept was a relatively new idea and being able to get wine delivered to the door seemed like a magical concept.

My first delivery from Sumac Ridge Winery—this was back in the day when it was still owned independently by the legendary Harry McWatters—contained a dozen bottles in a wooden case. Along side was a box containing six etched wine glasses with the Sumac Ridge name, and a waiter’s corkscrew. I still have the box, the distinctively-shaped glasses and the opener.

The box delivered to my office last week came from Serendipity Winery, one of my favourite small producers, located on the Naramata Bench. It’s the only wine club I belong to at the moment, primarily because we buy most of our wine on visits to wineries when I go out to do interviews and tastings for this column and Wine Trails magazine assignments. But Serendipity is a small producer and I don’t want to chance missing out on a release because my Okanagan visits don’t always take me to Naramata.

Inside the box were three reds, a rosé and two white wines. Tasting notes for each were included, as was a personal letter from owner Judy Kingston. The letter explained her selections, included comments from her daughter, Katie, acknowledged our meeting at a Calgary tasting last month and thanked me for the stories I have written about the winery.

In a random survey, conducted by going into the web sites of wineries that popped into my head, I found that about two-thirds have wine clubs. I can’t think of a good excuse for those who don’t. Having commitments ahead of time, with credit card use permission, is money in the bank. Just as importantly, it allows wineries to maintain an on-going relationship with customers.

Serendipity Winery offers three levels of membership in its wine club. The first is really just a free subscription to an emailed newsletter and the opportunity to buy special releases. The second ships 6 bottles twice a year and the third tier ships 6 bottles three times a year. Membership to in the second and third tiers also includes an invitation to a summer barrel tasting and barbecue and the option of spending a day in the vineyard, learning to prune or pick grapes along a row named for the member.

In my informal survey, I found that most wine club memberships offer discounts to other wine purchases, as well as tasting notes. Some include free shipping, recipes and restaurant discounts. Poplar Grove members who refer new members get a $10 credit for purchases. Black Widow members get preferential booking at the winery’s bed and breakfast. Some offer options for different numbers of bottles in a shipment and in the frequency of those shipments.

The most obvious benefit for members, though, is the same as it is for wineries. It gives the member an on-going relationship with the winery. Show up at the tasting room and mention you are a wine club member and the likelihood is that you will get extra-attentive service, waived tasting fees and an invitation to take a tour. In essence, you become part of the winery’s family.

Many years ago, on our first visit to Sumac Ridge, we were told that people who visit the winery and make purchases are the ones who enable a winery to expand and offer better experiences for visitors. Why? Because other than taxes, all the money from those purchases stays in the winery’s pockets. There are no sales commissions, shipping fees or wholesale discounts. Other than the shipping costs, wine club memberships offer the same benefit to the winery, with the added level of security that comes with the pre-ordering of products.

If you like wines from a particular winery, consider checking the web site to see if it has a wine club. It’s a great way to stay connected.

Just Posted

Choir leader’s selfless work wins her Castlegar Citizen of the Year

Christina Nolan has grown the community choir into a strong and vibrant asset for the city

Water main maintenance ongoing in South Castlegar and Blueberry

Project will take two weeks — city says there should not be any service disruptions

Downtown businesses want you to love them this weekend

Third annual event encourages people to shop in their own community.

Police investigating man’s death in Winlaw

Foul play not established, but major crimes unit is investigating

Grand Forks woman assaulted in home invasion

The incident took place Wednesday morning

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

Kootenay man arrested and charged in 2015 murder

Nathaniel Jessup 32 of Creston has been charged with the second-degree murder of Katherine McAdam and offering an indignity to a body.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

GALLERY: First responders in Fernie return baby owl to its nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

Most Read