Why Join an Ontario Winery Wine Club?

So with summer drawing to a close, shame on you if you haven’t made it to one of Ontario’s great wineries during the busy summer period. But there are still lots of great events in all regions as we enter the fall harvest season, so lots of excuses abound for you to get out and visit. And if you can’t make it to one of those events, why don’t you consider joining a wine club? There are lots of great ones to choose from…my wife Debbie and I are members of three different ones (for different reasons) and heartily recommend a fourth. Find your own reasons to join one and see the great variety Ontario wineries have to offer. Here’s the three we joined, and the fourth we’d like to join soon:

Vineland Estates Winery “Connections” Wine Club

This was the last wine club we joined, and the whole premise of the wine club is what sold us on it. The idea is simple but unique – each month you get a great wine from Vineland Estates Winery paired with a great wine from one of the neighbouring wineries in Niagara. Naysayers may think that Vineland chooses lesser wines to make their wine stand out, but those people haven’t met Brian Schmidt, the winemaker at Vineland. Believing that “a rising tide floats all boats”, Brian works diligently to promote all the wines in the region and this wine club is a shining example of that mentality, as he likes to chose smaller partner wineries that don’t have the breadth of reach that Vineland’s wine club has.

As well as two great bottles of wine shipped to your home each month (always interesting to see which neighbouring winery shows up each month, there is an additional surprise in the monthly shipment…sometimes shortbread cookies, maple syrup, or some other treat that is somehow tied into the shipment. As well, great notes accompany the wines, including a little background on the winery partner chosen each month. It really is a unique club! Details here:

Model suits those who like wines from one winery, but also like to try something else once in a while (and for those who like receiving little “treats” each month).

Strewn Barrel Club

This program has become so popular that they don’t really promote it anymore as they have run out of barrel room. When we stopped in a few weeks go there were only 3-4 spots left. Here’s how this unique program works:

– Join the Strewn Barrel Club and you get to own your own French, Canadian or American oak barrel (different price points)
– You purchase a brand new oak barrel and Strewn puts a fancy brass label on it to identify it as yours.
– Strewn uses it to ferment and age wine and you are invited to visit and see your barrel each year or so to see what it has in it (ours had 2009 Cab Franc in it last year).
– You get invited to special “Barrel Club” events throughout the year.
– Every anniversary you are entitled to roughly 1/3 of the original purchase price in Strewn wine.
– At the end of the 4th year (3rd anniversary) you can chose another 1/3 value in wine, or you get to keep the barrel and do with it as you wish. So your money is returned to you over a few years with “interest”, that being the last allotment of wine or the barrel.

Debbie and I really wanted a barrel like this to incorporate into our cellar design, which is why we joined (well the great wine from Strewn didn’t hurt). Another great reason to join is that we have an excuse to visit Niagara every August to pick up our “allotment”. 🙂 Details here:

Model suits those who want “bragging rights” to their barrel, and/or are value investors. 🙂

Fielding Estates Winery

Last in the list of the three we joined was for a slightly different reason – we fell in love with Fielding wines on our first Niagara trip and have made them an annual stop ever since. This is what I would call a “traditional” wine club in that you are regularly shipped wines from the winery to your home. In Fielding’s case, they ship 2 bottles every other month. There is no shipping cost if you want to add more wines to your order, and all members are entitled to exclusive wine club pricing, complimentary tastings and tours at the clubhouse, and discounted tickets to special events. Heidi and Curtis Fielding are two extremely nice people, and have really kept a “family feel” to their winery which makes being a member of the club feel like you are indeed their “friends”.

Tasting notes and recipes to accompany each wine arrive with the shipment. Details here:

Model suits those who fall in love with wines from a specific winery.

Savvy Selections Wine Club

We haven’t yet joined Savvy but it is next on our list, as the club Debbie Trenholm has put together is quite unique. Each month, Savvy’s expert panel of sommeliers select different Ontario wines to be shipped to your home or office (they do have a similar service in BC now). These are wines you can’t find in the LCBO, and every shipment comes directly from the featured winery. As well as the wine, you also receive the Savvy eZine featuring an interview with the featured winemaker, and “Savvy Sommelier” tasting notes and recipes that they have handpicked to pair with the Savvy Selections wines. Details here:

Model suits those who want to try a different winery each month. As an example, Riverview Cellars, Karlo Estates, and Ravine Vineyards are the Ontario selections for October, November and December.

So there you have it – our 3 (soon 4) reasons we joined different wine clubs…now you just need to figure out your reason to support one of the great Ontario wineries!

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