Changes are happening at a rapid pace to the ways in which Canadians have traditionally been able to purchase and consume their wine. In Manitoba it’s only a matter of days before the first Manitoba Liquor Mart will open in Pembina Safeway. And, as of this year, in scrambling to catch up BC, caterers are finally allowed to be licensed (gasp!),
No wonder then that wine buying clubs are rapidly gaining in popularity. As folks shake off the puritanical shackles so long associated with buying liquor in Canada, they’re also discovering new ways to stock their cellars.
Part of the heightened interest is due to the awareness generated by the “Free My Grapes” campaign and the resulting Bill C-311 changes to Federal legislation previously prohibiting shipping Canadian wine across provincial borders.
The move by more enlightened provinces (including BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and arguably Ontario and Alberta) to enact legislation reflecting the federal change is already encouraging wineries to introduce, enhance or otherwise ramp up their direct to consumer activities.
Where you live dictates from whom you can buy. For the best up to date information on Direct to Consumer shipping of Canadian wine, read Mark Hicken at winelaw.ca
Some of the more active BC winery clubs include Tinhorn Creek (Crush Club), Mission Hill (Proprietor’s Wine Club) , CedarCreek and Painted Rock (who will case ship anywhere in Canada, whether you’re a member or not).
The changes are also driving interest in other types of wine clubs, such as operated by Marquis Wine Cellars (Western Canada’s first private wine store), as well as by wine authorities and educators. Some agency importers, such as International Cellars, will put you on a monthly mailer and arrange case orders for pick up from a local store.
In short, there’s a whole lotta folks out there who want to make it easy for you to buy wine by the case and have it shipped to your door—and in some cases do the choosing for you. If you’re in the process of building a cellar and new to wine, there’s arguably no better way to go than to work with somebody who does it for a living.
Marquis Wine Club focuses heavily on convenience, and mirrors its portfolio by offering harder to find bottles, often from smaller, producers—like perennial Parker 90+ wines from Washington State’s Maison Bleue. Also, unlike most “surprise” selections, if a club member isn’t satisfied with a particular wine, Marquis will replace it with another bottle of similar value.
Generally, better ‘international’ wine club offerings revolve more around access to rarer bottles (‘front of line’ style) and sharing of expertise, and less on price—mainly because (in Canada at least) there’s not a lot of little wiggle room.
However, do your research for BC wines and you might realise some savings—sometimes significant if you’re a regular wine shopper.
BC winery clubs usually offer some worthwhile visitor perks that make the proposition more attractive.
Just unveiled, Okanagan Crush Pad’s THE Club @ Crush Pad offers one of the more flexible purchase packages that includes a significant discount.
All you have to do is commit to buy two cases of wine a year. Beyond that, you get to choose from OCP’s growing stable of both their own and client wines. And you get 20 percent off … Show up at the winery and you’ll be greeted with a glass of sparkling Haywire before a complimentary tour, plus advice on touring and dining planning, … and the list goes on.
The wine club is really another form of loyalty program—and it’s definitely here to stay. Besides, if you’re already buying a specific winery regularly, or frequently shopping at a favourite retailer, it only makes good sense tobuild your cellar, broaden your tasting horizons, or see if there’s a better deal on offer—doesn’t it?
Are you involved in a wine buying club? Does it work for you? If so, what have been your experiences?