Top 5 (ok 6) Bay Area Wineries with "More Bang for Your Buck" Wine Clubs

Lets face it. Most of us cheap folks join the wine club to get the 20% off the day you happen to be visiting the winery, half in the bag, looking at the retail price verses the club price (they do that because they know after a few stops on the wine trail, you can't and won't do math). You probably cancel your membership within a few days, or after your first shipment because (sober) you DID do the math, and heck--shipping is expensive, and you'd rather spend that on gas to get to Trader Joe's for another case of Two Buck Chuck. Every once in a while though, you secretly envy those folks "in the know" about wheelin', dealin' wine clubs that are actually WORTH the price. This list contains my top five picks of those wine clubs you won't be sorry you joined, even when looking at the invoice.

Updated: February 24, 2010

Santa Cruz

Hallcrest Vineyards

379 Felton Empire Road, Felton, CA 95018

Lets face it--when it comes to organic and/or vegan wines, you don't have much of a choice. Combine that with sulfite-free, and you're out of luck. Hallcrest has all those things at very affordable pricing. But the real gem of a deal is in their premium reds. Small, numbered lots of Pinot Noir that is TO DIE FOR (not vegan, but from Organic Wineworks), and a flexible wine club that won't kick you out if you...say...lose your job. They'll even invite you down to the deck for a glass, to make you feel better. Wine club members also have access to very limited (we are talking one barrel!) releases that won't break the bank, and easy-peasy $11 shipping. While I can't say much about their lower end "Surfin'" label reds, you will impress your most skeptical vegan friend when you tell him or her that "no egg whites were harmed in the making of this wine."

Bonny Doon Vineyard

402 Ingalls St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

The new tasting room downtown boasts a full-service (and delicious) kitchen, so while you go pick up your wine club selection, you can grab a bite to eat. But the real "bang for your buck" comes in with the handy little insider emails that club members get, whenever they decide to unload some back stock, often at $6 a bottle (Angel Paille), and sometimes $25 a case (Boutille Call). Splits of Cigare Volant, their flagship red, for a mere $6 will make your next holiday party even better because you can afford the party favors, and they are liquid deliciousness. You have special access to these offers when you're in the club.

Napa/Silverado Trail

St. Supery Vineyards & Winery

8440 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573

No wine club membership works as hard as St. Supery to make you happy. From their knowledgeable tasting room staff (I recommend Joe), to their snazzy use of online social media to reach out to their members personally and touch them with deals. Wine club members enjoy deals with local hotels (Napa Valley Marriott and Avia to name a few), and a whopping 30% off any re-order of a club selection made within 30 days. If that's not enough, try their little brochure-like cookbooks that are given to members free of charge (Most clubs give you paring recipes, but never a whole booklet of them). Members enjoy unique events at discounted prices, barrel tastings for you and your buddies (or if you just want to impress 4 women at one time with your "in"). But the main reason you should choose to be a wine club member at St. Supery is because they just don't make a bad bottle of wine. That, above all else, is bang for your buck, when getting wine club shipments. At affordable price tiering, you pick what you can afford, and that makes your inner cheap-monkey happy.



Ravenswood Winery

18701 Gehricke Rd, Sonoma, CA 95476

Why add such commercial brand to a list of "Bang for your Buck" instead of a boutique winery out of Sonoma? Because Ravenswood offers limited addition and library selections that come as part of their Zinfomania club for about $45 for two bottles, monthly. That makes them one of the cheapest clubs to join in Sonoma. You also get the 30% re-order deal, and since Ravenswood is part of a group of wineries (Simi, Franciscan, etc...), you also get perks at those places, too, and a unique winery experience you won't get picking their bottles off the shelf at Safeway.