The first rule of wine club is: you talk about wine club so others can join-in and enjoy. For us, this past week has been wine-club pick-up time. That is, two of the three clubs we belong to had distribution days. Currently, we belong to clubs run by Port of Leonardtown Winery and Romano Vineyard and Winery, both of which sell us three bottles per quarter. Running Hare Vineyard’s wine club, which we also belong to, has us buy six bottles of wine in the spring and the fall.
After you join a wine club, you don’t have to knock on a door with a little sliding panel and utter a secret word. Just walk right in and tell ‘em what you’re there for: I want my wine! They’ll gladly take your name to be sure you’re on the list. Once you’re confirmed, they’ll bring you the goodies (having already charged your credit card for the privilege).
Romano's wine club
On Saturday afternoon, August 12th, we went to Romano’s. There, waiting for wine club members, were bags and boxes set-out for pick-up. We got two bags, with a 2015 Chambourcin and Barbera in one, and a 2016 Traminette in the other. The boxes contain six bottles, for the folks who sign-up for that many per quarter.
The Traminette is truly special, as it has not yet been released to the general public. This was a real benefit of being a club member. Another benefit: the two free glasses of wine we got to enjoy while we were there. As members, we’re each entitled to a free glass every month. On this day, we both had a glass of Chambourcin — one of our favorites from Romano’s.
Another benefit: invitations to members-only special events. Last November, we got to enjoy a vertical flight of their Chambourcin wines. That is, we got to taste wine from every year they’ve made Chambourcin. Our write-up is here: Romano Chambourcin tasting. To sign-up for their club, there’s a one-time fee of $25. The quarterly bottles are then charged to you at a 10% discount.
POL wine club
On Tuesday, August 15th, I drove south to the Port of Leonardtown (POL) Winery to pick-up the summer batch of club wines. We first visited them last April (Tasting at Port of Leonardtown Winery) and liked their wines so much that we bought several and joined one of their clubs. That’s right, they have two clubs: one for sweet wines and one for dry (we joined the dry one). There was no fee to join. We just had to guarantee for a year (with a credit card) that we’d buy three bottles a quarter. There are additional benefits:
- 15% discount on wines purchased.
- Invitations to members-only events, such as barrel tastings, introductory wine offers, and special receptions.
- Access to wine-club bottles unavailable to the general public.
That last benefit is one I took advantage of on this most recent trip. They’re getting ready to release their first sparkling wine: Rolling Rosé. All 22 cases are for club members only. Nice! I pre-ordered four bottles. They should be ready in a couple weeks.
Running Hare's wine club
As long as I’m talking about the two wine clubs we were involved with last week, I should also tell you more about the third one, which is for Running Hare Vineyards, which we first visited on New Year’s Eve of last year (Scampering Lepus potables). They charge a $100 per year membership fee and offer a variety of benefits. Here are just a few:
- Free wine tasting/admission for a member and up to three guests per visit (potentially a $40 value).
- 20% off all wine purchased at the vineyard (except wines for weddings).
- Receive a semi-annual wine club selection (spring and fall) of 6 bottles of wine selected by the winery at a 20% discount.
Click here to read more about their VIP wine club benefits on their website. You’ll need to scroll down about two-thirds of the way through their Frequently Asked Questions.
Why join a wine club?
There are two main reasons to join a club:
- Depending on the membership-fee structure, and how often you may visit a particular winery, you can probably save on the purchase price of wines you like, and will probably be buying any way.
- Get access to special wines and events that you may otherwise not hear about.
By participating in a club, you’ll probably get to know your friendly local winemakers a bit better. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet fellow wine enthusiasts at some of the events. Click here to see a listing of Southern Maryland wine clubs. So, join and enjoy! And, don’t forget: talk about wine club. ♦