Whether you’re a seasoned expert or a novice just learning the difference between shiraz and cabernet, wine clubs allow you to try new varieties that you may have never thought to pick up.
Balaban’s Wine Cellar and Tapas Bar
With a newly launched and simplified wine club, Balaban’s hopes to utilize its strength as a retail wine shop to introduce members to an array of options. “The goal is to make sure people can learn about wine while enjoying it,” says retail wine manager Scott Krietemeyer.
For a $35 monthly membership with no long-term commitment required, members receive two pre-selected bottles of wine each month, opting for two whites, two reds, or one of each. Krietemeyer plans to choose wines from all over the world, aiming to stick within the $20 a bottle price range. “I’m going to try to find something that’s a little bit unique and ones that I enjoy myself.”
While members can pick up their bottles from Balaban’s at any time, the Chesterfield establishment also hosts a pick-up party on the first Wednesday of every month with wine tastings and complimentary appetizers. “The best way to learn about wine is to try it, and we’ll expose you to four additional wines at the tasting, so after about six months, your wine knowledge is going to be that much stronger.”
The Wine Merchant
The Wine Merchant prides itself on tasting every wine it sells, and the specialty shop hopes to impart some of that expertise on customers through its wine clubs. “It’s a great way to get a more educated palate and hone in on what you want to be drinking,” says certified sommelier Jason Main.
With two levels, members can choose between wines that they could open right away for dinner, or high-end options that may be saved for special occasions. The Merch Club offers two bottles a month for $35, while the Merch Reserve Club includes two bottles of collector-grade wine for $75 monthly. Although the clubs only offer in-store pick-up, The Wine Merchant includes tasting notes and recommendations for food and cheese pairings with each bottle.
With the arrival of the spring rosé season, the Clayton store will showcase complex and dry French versions in the clubs to change people’s misconception that all varieties are overly sweet. “If you tried a certain wine years ago and had a bad experience, you’re missing out on a whole world of wine,” Main explains. “The Merch Club is a great opportunity to give people training wheels that maybe they didn’t have the first time they tried a style of wine, and now they’re really going to enjoy it.”
Chandler Hill Vineyards
When you join the Chandler Hill Proprietor’s Wine Club, you become a welcomed member of the vineyard’s family, says director of wine and certified sommelier Michael Kennedy. With a limit of 250 members and just 43 spots open, the club is part of the winery’s focus on creating a strong customer base. “Our wine club members are our core customers. We know them by name, see them on a weekly basis, and they all know each other,” he says.
Started in 2008 when Chandler Hill opened in Defiance, the Proprietor’s Club offers a 20 percent discount on all purchases for a $250 initial fee and $175 annual membership. Members receive a welcome package with four bottles of wine when they join and four discounted bottles quarterly. In addition, benefits include complimentary tastings, pickup parties, monthly wine club dinners and trips to vineyards around the country.
Members can make their quarterly purchases based on the winery’s recommendations for seasonal wines, new releases or exclusive offerings for the club. “We produce wine in four states—Missouri, Oregon, Washington and California—so we’re always coming up with new varieties,” Kennedy says. “People just love to discover new wines.”
Chaumette Vineyards & Winery
Although the only commitment asked of members of the Chaumette Wine Club is a one-year membership, many become long-term participants, says Jennifer Johnson, spokesperson at the Ste. Genevieve winery. “Generally there’s quite the attrition rate for wine clubs, but our members stay because we offer an experience.”
Membership to the club is free and includes a 20 percent discount on wine, both through six annual shipments of two bottles, or any other wine purchased at Chaumette. Participants can choose from the new release, sweet or dry club, the winery chooses the particular wine to include in each shipment. “We give our wine club members the opportunity to taste the new releases first, which not many people get to do, since we are a relatively small winery,” Johnson notes.
Along with the discounted wine, Chaumette offers members promotions for the villas and spa services at the winery, as well as preferred reservations at the Grapevine Grill restaurant and the opportunity to attend a biannual winemakers dinner, Johnson says. “The wine club allows us to stay connected with our friends and customers.”