Wine Clubs in the FLX
Written by Kate Meyers Emery
Wine clubs are an important and nearly ubiquitous feature of wineries in the Finger Lakes. But what makes becoming a wine club member so appealing? To answer this question, we reached out to four wineries across the Finger Lakes to learn more.
A wine club is a membership in which you commit to purchasing a certain number of bottles from a specific winery over the calendar year, with amounts ranging from one or two bottles every other month to a full case each quarter. In return for your commitment, you get perks, discounts and special access.
The perks you receive vary widely with each winery, and are what make individual clubs unique. Ravines Wine Cellars is known for their quarterly wine pickup parties known as Revelries, where small bites are paired with the wines each club member will receive in their shipment. “We also have a printed club newsletter that comes with our members’ quarterly selection of wines. In it, each of the four wines is written up, along with a food pairing that includes recipe information,” says co-owner Lisa Hallgren.
Billsboro Winery has a three-tier system, where members get either 12, 24 or 36 bottles over the span of a year. Those belonging to their top-tier wine club gain access to private tastings, a bigger discount on wine and special events. As co-owner Kim Aliperti notes, “We really want to thank the people who have supported us the most and this is one way we can do that.”
Club membership can also give you access to small-batch or limited-release wines. At Heart & Hands Wine Company they produce a limited quantity of wine, which means being a wine club member is the only way to ensure you won’t miss out. “We also really enjoy how the wine club allows us to share our most interesting wines… with an engaged and enthusiastic group of people,” says co-owner Susan Higgins.
There’s another perk of joining: the opportunity to influence what the winery is producing. McGregor Vineyard is known for having one of the most engaged wine club memberships. Wine club manager Dan Jimerson believes that “our members are really dedicated because they are actually very involved in what we are doing at McGregor. Events like our Red Wine Barrel Tasting are set up as educational vintage tastings but in reality are interactive club experiences. And we listen.”
More important than the perks, wine clubs are a great way to support a winery you love, and be part of their family. When asked what each winery loved about its wine club, nearly every one said the same thing: “Our people!” says Jimerson. “Somehow we have brought together the most interesting, generous group you could hope for.”
A wine club is a unique opportunity to be part of a community of wine lovers who all appreciate the same winery you do. As Aliperti aptly says, “We truly do see our club members as part of our Billsboro family.”
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of the magazine.
Kate Meyers Emery is a Finger Lakes wine evangelist, writer and educator. Read more of her work at VinifeROC.com, and follow her wine adventures on Instagram at @kmeyersemery.