While we’re unable to have the in-person wine tasting experiences we know and love, virtual wine clubs are making sure the oenophile world keeps turning. The market for these clubs is consistently growing, and the ones worth seeking out are those that do the hardest part for us: deliver the best small-production, boutique wines we’d never be able to find and vet on our own. My four favorite virtual wine clubs offer vastly different selections, but their core values are aligned: to bring affordable, hard-to-find wines directly to their members’ doors, and make drinking wine at home a richer and more satisfying experience.
We Drink Bubbles (based locally, in Encinitas!) is for all of the sparkling wine lovers. Shiloh Caffrey believes that life’s worth celebrating and that every day is an occasion fit for bubbles--I’ll drink to that! After living in Italy, she learned that there’s an abundance of affordable, high-quality sparkling wine produced across the world--we just have to find it. Caffrey searches high and low for the best boutique Champagnes and sparkling wines, and sends three bottles a month (flexibly, on the months members choose) for $100.
Calling all “winethropists”: Humanity Wine Co. is for lovers of Latin wine who also want to give back. Maria Lauricella built the Florida-based company on the belief that wine can save the world. Unlike any other wine club, Humanity donates a whopping 50 percent of its proceeds to job training and placement programs for orphans who are aging out of the foster care system. Members receive 12 bottles of top-quality Latin wines per quarter for $297, and half of that goes to a great cause. It’s a win-win.
For the wine lover who likes to sip off the beaten path, try Cellar 503, the wine club that focuses on the range, beauty, and diversity of Oregon wines. Knowing there’s so much more to them than Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Carrie Wynkoop began exploring unique varietals from across the 21 wine-growing areas in the state (think Rogue Valley Roussanne and Touriga Nacional, from Southern Oregon) and created Cellar 503 to share these gems with the world. There are rotating monthly themes, like “female winemakers” and “Italy in Oregon,” and flexible membership options start at $45.
To get a taste of some of the world’s most iconic wines, try Wine Access. Their team of master sommeliers tastes over 20,000 wines a year to hand-select wines for their members. The team draws upon a range of relationships, from small family-owned vineyards to some of the most renowned producers in the world, to offer members a broad selection of high-quality and often rare wines. For $150 per quarter, members receive six bottles of wine, have access to virtual tastings, and get 10 percent off purchases.