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The California Wine Club Review

Updated: January 2018

The California Wine Club is a specialized wine club experience that brings you wine from small, family owned California wineries, right to your home. These wines are made in small batches and limited quantities, so they are not available for purchase is stores, only through this club. The California Wine Club has been in operation for 25 years and their mission is to bring handcrafted and award-winning wine to enjoy along with delicious food.

Their Love It Guarantee means they are confident you will fall in love with their wonderful wines, but if not, you are not stuck. Plus, with seven different wine clubs to choose from, there is a monthly wine subscription for all tastes as budgets.

A club that is serious about not only great wine, but the history behind that wine and that wine's vineyard.


Rating/Scoring

Wine Selection: (Rating: 9/10)

The California Wine Club has a high-quality selection of wines to choose from, although there are not a ton of different options to choose from/receive each month. You can choose between a combination of red and white wines, all red wines, or all white wines. Most of their wines come from small, family owned wineries from all over California so you are getting small batch and award-winning wines that haven’t been mass produced. However, they do have an international wine plan so you can explore wines from all over the world as well. Sometimes champagnes or sparkling wines will make their way into the mix too.

The California Wine Club Premier Series Shipment

Our Recent Shipment from The California Wine Club


Each box comes with 2 or 4 wines. You receive two different wines if you choose the red and white box option, or two of the same wines if you want just red or white. Rare, collectable, and vintage wines are not included with their Premier Series, but you can opt for the Signature Series where you will get the highest rated and most coveted wines from California wineries. If you want something even more exclusive, you can choose their Aged Cabernet Series where you get Napa Valley Cabernets aged for 8-12 years from iconic California wineries. They also have a more specialized Pacific Northwest Wine Series that features wines from small Oregon and Washington State wineries. An International Series is available as well.

You cannot select the wines you want to receive each month, the wine is chosen for you from that month’s selected wineries. Each wine is featured and discussed in depth in their Uncorked Magazine that comes with your shipment, what that aromas and flavors are, etc.

Wine Quality: (Rating: 10/10)

Whether you choose their base level membership or their most prestigious membership, you receive high quality wines from each membership level. All wines are hand selected from small wineries across California where lots of love and passion go into each bottle. Many of the wines you are sent have been awarded various medals and have 90+ points for taste and quality – even from the Premier level.

The California Wine Club

Willowbrook Cellars Pinot Noir and California Chardonnay


Their Signature Series has some of the highest rated and most coveted wines from family owned California wineries. If you are looking for something even more exclusive and refined, you can choose their Aged Cabernet Series where you get Napa Valley Cabernets aged for 8-12 years. These are all finely aged Cabernets where they have sat in temperature controlled conditions for age to perfection.

They also offer a special Northwest Series all well. These wines are from Oregon and Washington small family owned wineries and are handcrafted artisan wines.

Wine Price: (Rating: 9/10)

The California Wine Club offers seven different membership options that range in price and vary in shipping times. You can choose to have wines shipped to your home every month, every other month, or quarterly. You are billed on an ongoing basis until you decide you want to cancel your membership.You are able to cancel your membership at any time and there are no contracts.

For each shipment, you can choose from 2 bottles or 4 bottles per box. Shipping and tax is not included for your monthly/bi-monthly shipments, but if you choose to reorder any wines from that month, shipping is just $1 and bottles of wine are up to 50% off. There are no hidden fees and they have a 100% money-back guarantee.

This club is a bit more expensive than some other wine clubs, especially when you look at levels outside of their Premier Series. However, for the high-quality, award-wining, and small batch wines you get every order, the price may justify the higher price tag, especially if you are more than just a casual wine drinker.

When you first sign up for your membership, you will also receive $25 credit in your first shipment that can be used to gift a wine to a family member or friend or try another wine club level yourself.

Memberships: (Rating: 9/10)

There are seven membership options you can choose from, which include:

  • Premier Series
  • Signature Series
  • International Series
  • Aged Cabernet Series
  • Northwest Series
  • Simply Reds Series
  • Case Club Series

All membership plans come with $1 shipping when you reorder wine(s) by the case or half case, up to 50% off winery prices on every bottle you reorder, and a personal wine consultant to help assist you with all wine questions. You will also get a Love It Guarantee that will cover any spilled, broken, and disliked wines for receive. Those wines will be replaced immediately. You do not have to worry about being stuck with 2+ bottles of wine you don’t enjoy.

There is not a limited duration membership option, so you will be charged for your membership until you decide to cancel your membership. The only way you will not be charged per month is if you opt for their gift option. However, even if you sign up for the monthly plan, you can choose to skip any month you don’t want to receive your order.

Packaging/Shipping: (Rating: 9/10)

The wine arrived in a typical brown shipping box – nothing special identifying it. There were 4 wines in the box each separated by a protective cardboard casing to keep the wines from clanging together and breaking. There was no temperature control system within the packing, however, that’s not necessary for wine shipping, especially when you are receiving white wines. This is not a big issue, as The California Wine Club ships all their wines in a temperature-controlled truck from their warehouse, to one of four licensed freight forwarders located across the country.

The California Wine Club Packaging

Wines Packed in two layers


Also included in the packaging were some really nice and helpful touches that made the package feel a bit more special. It came with a folder full of information about the wines, food pairings, the featured wineries for that month, a scorecard, About Us flyer, and tucked into the side of the box was a set of 4 cork coasters with cute sayings printed on them. I felt like the packaging could have been a little more special, or elegant, but overall you get everything you need, the wines are protected, and there are some fun and unexpected surprised included.

The box was just a generic shipping box and did not have any identifying markings it was from The The California Wine Club. The only slight indication was the sticker saying it required a signature from someone 21+.

The California Wine Club Folder

The California Wine Club Coasters

Fun Set of Coasters we Got With Our Shipment!


It is worth noting that although we did get a confirmation email of approximately when the wine was going to ship out, we never got an email stating the wine actually did ship and never received a tracking number – even though they state on their website that we will. We aren't sure if this was a one time fluke or an ongoing issue. The tracking number did show on the order history on the website.

It seems the only way to get the tracking number is when the wine actually arrives at the recipient’s local courier and it going out for delivery. Personally, the only way I knew what day my wine was out for delivery and between what times was the fact I am signed up for UPS Choice, which provides me with detailed tracking info. If I did not have that, I likely would not have known the wine was coming for that day. This is an issue because the box requires a signature from someone 21+. It would be very easy to miss the delivery window and have a lot of trouble receiving your shipment.

The California Wine Club Shipping/Tracking

Tracking Number Was listed on website.

Gift Worthiness: (Rating: 8/10)

The California Wine Club does offer some gift options on their website. You can choose to gift someone a membership to the club for any amount of time you want. You can choose as little as one month or purchase a full year for your recipient to receive monthly wine boxes. The more months you purchase, the more you save overall. All gift memberships are prepaid and include shipping and tax.

You can choose to gift them any wine series they offer, like the Premier Series or the Northwest Series, etc. Gift memberships come with a coaster set, a $25 credit, a personalized gift card from the sender, and a VIP winery tour and invitation.

They also offer corporate gift and wedding gift options. For corporate gifts you can send wines monthly or quarterly, and comes with a $25 wine credit, and you can optionally choose to send personalized brand gift cards and a wooden wine box.

Wedding gifts include everything from a typical wine membership, plus they get a bottle of champagne in their first shipment for free. You must commit to purchasing a minimum of three months, however in order to get the free bottle of champagne.
There are limited gift wrapping options available and not many ways to customize an order for a special occasion. The only option they have for special wrapping is placing gold and/or silver tissue in the box for when the recipient opens the package.

They do not offer the ability to gift wines, wine assortments, or wine baskets outside of gift club memberships.

Customer Service/Support: (Rating: 9/10)

The customer service we received was great. We actually ordered the Premier Series as an ongoing membership to have delivered to a person and address other than that of the ordering person. The California Wine Club noticed this and called to verify that we truly intended to place an order for an on-going membership, and not a one time gift. We appreciated their desire to be proactive in potentially fix what they thought might have been an error on our part. Kudos!

They have a phone number, email, and a very helpful and convenient online chat option, which makes getting answers to questions almost instant and very easy to get. You don’t have to worry about waiting for an email reply or waiting on hold on the phone. Hours for customer service are limited to Monday thru Friday 7am to 5pm and weekends from 8am to 2pm, however.

You also get a personal wine consultant with all memberships plans, which is great for having any wine questions answered, help with ordering, figuring things out, etc. They are there to help you with any process of question.

They do offer an extensive blog with wine and local winery information, as well as recipes and food/wine pairings. We found their FAQ’s answered the most common questions a person might have regarding ordering a wine club.


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Pricing


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States They Do Not Ship To

They no not ship to:

  • Utah

As well as they don't ship into Canada.


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Club Specifications

Specification

Pricing

$15 to Under $20 a Bottle

$30 to Under $40 a Bottle

Over $50 a Bottle

Bottle Count

2

3

4

Help and Support

Phone

Email

Social Media

Online Tutorials

Assistance from Wine Expert

Wine Selections

Red

White

Mixture(Red/White)

Champagne/Sparkling Wines

Rare Collectable or Vintage

US Wines

International Wines

Shipping Frequency per Year

4 Times

6 Times

12 Times

Club Features

BBB Rating: A help

Money Back Guarantee: Yes

Contract Required?: No

Cancellation Fee: No

Can I Skip a Shipment?: No

Can I limit the duration?: On Gift Memberships Only help

Offer One Time Shipments: No

Can I establish a Wine Profile that my selections are based on?: No

Can I get a refund/replacement if I don't like a selection?: Yes

Tasting Notes/Materials/Videos help

Can I order Bottles without a Club Membership?: Yes help

Offer Gift Club Memberships: Yes

Offer Gift Collections/Boxes that don't require membership: No


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Who Would This Club Most Appeal To?

The California Wine Club does a good job at trying to cater to every taste and wine drinker. Their five different membership levels cover a wide range of price points, although they are still priced a bit higher than other wine clubs. However, you are paying for small batch high-quality wines and often award winning wines, which will justify the price for a more serious wine connoisseur. If you are looking for a wide selection of wines, the ability to choose which wines you receive, want bubbly options, or more personalized features, this wine club may not be best suited for you.


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Notes From Our Last Shipment

The wines we received in this shipment were two red and two whites of the same kind. The red was a 2016 North Coast Pinot Noir. As laid out in their Uncorked Magazine, the aromas and flavors of this wine are layers of strawberry, plum and black pepper with a finish of Christmas spices, leather, and dark fruit. The wine had a excellent, balanced acidity and fruitiness. It had complex flavor making it a great drinking wine, or perfect for cooking.

The California Wine Club WillowBrook Cellars Pinot Noir

WillowBrook Cellars Pinot Noir

The white was a 2016 California Chardonnay from Willowbrook Cellars as well. Their aromas and flavors were vanilla, pineapple, and nutmeg to start, it then layers with flavors of rich caramel, and leads into flavors of citrus, honey, and stone fruit. The wine finishes with a creaminess and flavors of butterscotch, hazelnut, and tropical fruit.

The California Wine Club WillowBrook Cellars California Chardonnay

WillowBrook Cellars California Chardonnay

There is a whole section in the magazine that talks about the Willowbrook Cellars Winery where the wine was from. They delve into the history of the winery, who owns it, and why they are special. Each wine has a section where the discuss what foods pair well with each wine. They also have recipes available on their website you can make that has been specially designed to pair well with the wines you received for the month.

The California Wine Club WillowBrook Cellars Winery

WillowBrook Cellars Winery


I would definitely purchase the Chardonnay again from the club. It was a fantastic wine that was light, refreshing, and complex in flavor. Its slight sweetness balanced well with the citrus and acidity, making it enjoyable to drink. It was in the top 5 white wines I have ever tried.

The Pinot Noir was wonderful as well, and one of my favorite reds I’ve had, as I am not a huge red wine drinker. I would considering purchasing again in the future if I was having a dinner party or making a meal that would pair well with a red wine. For a red wine lover, I believe they would enjoy this red quite a lot.


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What We Like and What We Didn't Like

The California Wine Club offers a great high-quality selection of small batch wines from family owned vineyards throughout California. This is a unique wine club membership because you are supporting local and small wineries, getting handcrafted wines made with a lot of love, and aren’t getting low-quality mass produced wines. Many of the wines you receive from this club are also award winning wines with 90+ points. Even their base level plan offers you the finest quality wines with 90+ points and a multitude of awards.

Included with every shipment is their own Uncorked magazine as well. Uncorked features all of the wines they are offering each month, what their aromas and flavors are, what foods they pair well with, in-depth information about each small winery, and they even include recipes that pair well with each wine. It provides you with a better understanding of your wine, what tasting notes to focus on, and how to pair it with food properly.

With all membership levels, you receive this Uncorked magazine, a set of coasters, a folder of information about the company, a $25 credit, information about memberships, and fees, and invitation to a VIP tour of a California winery featured that month. Wines are shipped in a standard box packed with protective cardboard inserts that keep your bottles of wine from moving around and knocking each other. You can choose to have shipments monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. You can cancel your membership at anytime with no questions asked and there are no cancellation fees to worry about. There are also no fees to begin your membership as well, which is great, hassle-free, and very user friendly.

One downfall to The California Wine Club is there is not much for customization options. You do have seven different plans to choose from and you can choose if you want a combination of red and white wines, or just red or white, but you cannot choose what wines you will receive for the month. Wines are automatically sent to you based on your membership level and preference of red and/or white wines. However, if you receive a wine you don’t like, they do have a 100% money-back guarantee. They also offer a personal wine consultant you can reach by phone or their live chat that will help answer all your wine questions including how to store wines, best food pairings, suggest wines based on your tasting preferences, and more.

The California Wine Club is endorsed and recommended by many people in the entertainment industry. They have been featured on E! TV, Food and Wine Magazine, Bon Appetit Magazine, Town and Country Magazine, and more!


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Final Thoughts

The California Wine Club offers a unique and exclusive experience for their members. Customers can feel confident knowing they are getting shipments of the highest quality, small batch wines from family owned wineries. This ensures you are getting wine made with a lot of love, effort, and delicious grapes. These wines are not mass produced or generic options that can be bought at any supermarket or liquor store. With the five different membership plans, personal wine consultants, and Love It Guarantee, they are a wonderful wine club for those looking to pay a little more for fine California or Pacific Northeast wines.



9 Total Score
Fine selections, expertly picked wines.

California Wine Club tries to combine the best of everything in a single club. From offering selections for novice wine drinkers to appeasing fine wine drinking palates, they have a membership level to accommodate just about everyone.

Wine Selection
9
Wine Quality
10
Wine Price
9
Memberships
9
Packaging/Shipping
9
Gift Worthiness
8
Customer Service/Support
9
PROS
  • 7 different membership plans
  • Wines personally selected via blind tasting
  • Receive a mix of red and white wines, just red or white, 2 bottles or 4 bottles.
  • Receive deliveries monthly, every other month, or quarterly
  • No mass produced or generic wines - wines come from small, family-owned wineries
  • Love It Guarantee
  • Wine reorders are up to 50% off
  • No membership fees or contracts
  • International wine options
  • Ships to all states, except Utah
  • Ability to order half and full cases without membership
CONS
  • Limited selection of wines to choose from each month
  • No shipping information is provided after you order (no email with tracking number when wines ship)
  • Shipping and tax not included
  • Shipping takes at least 1 week and up to 3 weeks.


Kayla is a work-from-home freelance writer and owner of an organic non-GMO personal grocery shopper business in Akron, OH. She is passionate about healthy living and helping others find high quality foods and beverages from great companies, everyday. She is also a contributing writer and reviewer for Revuzzle who loves any chance to review and write about food. In her free time, she loves to walk and hike, play with her very fluffy Samoyed, Echo, and travel as much as possible. Her favorite place to be is in the mountains and the rolling green hills of New Zealand where she lived for 6 months in college.

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