Wine of the Month Clubs are a developing extension of modern wine culture. Wine clubs are designed to provide customers with a series of wine bottles on a monthly or quarterly basis that they would otherwise have to find and purchase on their own. Wine clubs often behave in a themed manner, providing recipients with red wines, white wines, or a mixture of the two. Wine clubs are most frequently offered by vineyards or specialty wine shops, but they can also be found as independent bodies.
Paul Kalemkiarian, Sr. claims to have invented the idea of wine in the mail in 1972, while managing a small liquor store in Palos Verdes Estates, California. When a customer needed advice on a wine purchase, Paul Kalemkiarian, Sr. would direct him or her toward a bottle of red and a bottle of white that he had designated as the "monthly selections." Soon customers began to request that these selections be delivered to their homes, and newly licensed Paul Kalemkiarian, Jr., Kalemkiarian's teenage son, would load up the truck and make his rounds. The number of customers requesting this service increased over time, serving as the impetus for the Wine of the Month Club as it exists today. The Club, now owned and operated by Paul Kalemkiarian, Jr., continues its tradition of delivering two bottles of wine—both of which have been pared down from among the hundreds that Kalemkiarian, Jr. tastes each month—to the homes of its members nationwide.
Variations and costs
Most wine clubs involve all red bottles, all white bottles, or a combination of both, known as "mixed" clubs. However, there have arisen many stylistic variations in what wines are shipped (including grape varietals and wine regions and how many bottles. Various wine clubs can have a set theme or many themes that alternate with each shipment. The cost range for wine clubs is vast since wine itself can range vastly in price. The type of wines being selected for club shipments and the number of bottles, as well as the frequency of shipping, will influence the overall cost of a wine club. Common wine clubs are created by wineries themselves, wine stores, internet retailers or large media companies such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, among others.
- J. Arnold & I. Larnis Wine Clubs of Sonoma County pgs 1-33 Pelican Publishing Company 2007 ISBN 1-58980-432-5
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- Zimmerman, Martin, Los Angeles Times (August 23, 2009). "The time was ripe for a wine club".
- Barge, Evelyn, Pasadena Star News (August 19, 2010). "Wine podcasts a fun venture".
- Hodgins, Paul, The Orange County Register (November 10, 2009). "Booze on a Budget: two great wines, guaranteed, for $19.95 a month".
- Garbee, Jenn, LA Weekly (September 3, 2009). "The Original Wine of the Month Club? Only a Bottle Away in Monrovia".