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6 Reasons to Join a Wine Club

“Membership has its privileges.” Who doesn’t remember this slogan from the 1990’s? Who doesn’t like being a member of a club? It makes you feel like you are part of an exclusive group. Maybe you already belong to a group where you have something in common? There are many different clubs you can join…car clubs, country clubs, service clubs, book clubs, wine clubs…wait, wine clubs? My husband and I are members of a couple of wine clubs: Lost Oak Winery (Burleson, TX), Blue Ostrich Vineyard (Saint Jo, TX), and Wedding Oak Winery (San Saba, TX). There have been a few other ones I’d like to join, but my husband has said three is enough for now! We’ll just have to cycle through the clubs and see what we can do.

There are many reasons to join a wine club and these are just a few membership privileges:

1. Advance release and exclusive release of wines. Many wineries make early release or limited releases of their wines available to wine club members before they make them available to the general public in the tasting room or their website. Westcave Cellars, whose wine club members are known as the Cellar Dwellers, is located in Round Mountain in the Hill Country. They offer to their members access to special releases of wine not available to the public. Spicewood Vineyards is located about 35 miles northwest of Austin near the community of Spicewood. They offer the ability to purchase exclusive wines available only to wine club members.

Westcave Cellars from the patio deck.
Westcave Cellars from the patio deck.
Spicewood Vineyards
Spicewood Vineyards

2. Wine Club release events. Pick up events are usually scheduled around wine club release times where members come and drink the wines being released with special food pairings. Friends of Pedernales Cellars, the wine club for Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, are invited to exclusive club release events including special passes to Pedernales Cellars’ celebration of Texas Independence Day with cooking demos, wine classes, and more. The Flock, Hilmy Cellars’ wine club located on US Highway 290 between Stonewall and Fredericksburg, are encouraged to pick-up their wine allocations on the date or weekend they are released in order to enjoy the celebrations surrounding each release.

 

Pedernales Cellars
Pedernales Cellars
Hilmy Cellars
Hilmy Cellars

3. Special Events. Many wineries offer member only special events like special pairings, wine pairing dinners at local restaurants, or even wine blending parties. Singing Water Vineyards is located outside of Comfort and their wine club is referred to as the Vintage Wine Club. Among other things they also offer special VIP invitation to special events throughout the year. Driftwood Estate Winery is located in Driftwood and offers discounted event tickets and exclusive Member Only events.

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Singing Water Vineyards
Overlooking Driftwood Estate Vineyards
Overlooking Driftwood Estate Vineyards

4. Discounts and special pricing. How does 10-20% on average off of wines, merchandise, and event tickets sound?? William Chris Wines is located in Hye and offers four levels of membership ranging from 2 bottles and 10% savings to 12 bottles and 25% savings. Bar Z Winery in Canyon offers 15% discount on wine and merchandise purchases.

William Chris Wines
William Chris Wines
Bar Z Winery
Bar Z Winery

5. Free tours and tastings. You and some of your friends can join in for free tastings and tours of the winery and vineyards. Blue Ostrich Winery and Vineyard located in Saint Jo offers complementary tastings and scheduled barrel tastings. Some wineries like Texas Legato in Lampasas offer free barrel and tank tastings with the wine maker with advance notice.

Blue Ostrich Winery and Vineyard
Blue Ostrich Winery and Vineyard
Aerial shot of Texas Legato from Keith George's drone
Aerial shot of Texas Legato from Keith George’s drone

6. Free newsletter subscriptions. Current information is offered on what’s going on in the winery and occasionally recipe and pairing suggestions. Woodrose Winery in Stonewall offers intimate tasting notes from the winemakers and gourmet Woodrose Winery recipes to pair with their wines. Lost Oak Winery in Burleson shares a copy of their From the Vine newsletter that includes winery notes from President, Gene Estes, and winemaker, Jim Evans, and a recipe is shared with each shipment.

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Woodrose Winery
Lost Oak Winery
Lost Oak Winery

I’m sure there are many other reasons to join, but these are the most common I found. Almost every winery offers wine club membership and is able to ship your wines to you, but you will still need to visit the winery in order to take full advantage of your wine club benefits.

Thanksgiving Wine Trip 2013 – Day 1

Shelly and I have a Thanksgiving week tradition we started several years ago. Since the boys are out of school the week of Thanksgiving we load them up and take them to Gramma and Grampa’s house then we head out and find some wineries to visit.

We have visited wineries in the Lubbock area, the Saint Jo area, and up and down the Hwy 290 area. This year we chose to head south and east and visit some wineries in east Texas. We started the trip Saturday morning as a vicious winter storm was threatening to engulf the north Texas metroplex the next day. As we took off down the country roads in the rain we were afraid we had missed the beautiful fall colors we’d been hearing about, but that fear was unwarranted! The trees were showing off their colors in rare form. The reds, oranges, browns, yellows, and almost every shade of green imaginable were absolutely beautiful. While we headed south we also noticed that more and more of the ponds and stock tanks were mostly full. I enjoy watching for hawks and other birds perching in trees or on power lines on the side of the road and I was not disappointed, but I did get tickled that they were not the large hawks that we see in central to west Texas, but they were smaller birds and looked like they might have been more of a sparrow hawk. Most were very fluffy as they perched in the damp and cold.

Our first stop was Maydelle Country Wines and we found them on Hwy 84 that runs between Palestine and Rusk. They do have a blue Texas Highway Department sign announcing their winery, but at their drive way they also have a number of signs also showing you are at the right place. We made the turn into the driveway and crossed the railroad tracks, winding our way around to the winery.
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One word truly does describe this place – Country! Good country folk making country wines. We were greeted by a rather large goat on the front porch and a very exuberant basset hound bounding around our feet. A gentleman came out on the front porch to sweep the goat’s droppings out of our way and he invited us in stating the hound could come inside, but the goat had to stay outside…she wasn’t house trained! As we came in out of the cold he apologized that it would not be toasty warm inside due to a heater malfunction that morning. The thermocouple had gone out of their furnace in that building. We found a gas heater doing a good job taking the chill out of the air. Steven Harper, owner and winemaker, is a “train nut” and there are lots of references to that lifelong love distributed around the tasting room.

Part of the welcoming committee.
Daisy, part of the welcoming committee.

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Steven explained that he doesn’t usually do the tastings, but he would get us started hoping his wife would be along shortly from being set up at a local farmer’s market. He began by telling us that “No grapes were harmed in the making of these wines.” I believe it!! He started by pouring their Lemon Wine, then the Lime Wine, and he had just poured the next one, a Peach Wine, as the basset hound started going nuts whining and bouncing at the door. Pretty soon a woman bundled up against the elements came inside and our tasting was put on a quick hold as she unloaded her packages and they switched places, she taking over our tasting and Steven unloading the wine cases out of the vehicle. After the Peach Wine we also tasted Blackberry, Elderberry, and Grapefruit wines. The only grape wines available were sweet and dry Lenoir wines they named Lenore, due to the fact Steven thought that was how the grape was pronounced when he first saw it written. Because of this, they have different stanzas from Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” printed on each vintage’s label. There was also a white zinfandel called Gavyn Blush. During our conversation, we found out that all of the wines are unoaked. We also discussed various books and authors and quoted lines from Mel Brooks movies. We had a wonderful visit and we wish them continued success!

Back up Highway 84 towards Palestine, we went to Texas Vineyard and Smokehaus. We found out pretty quickly that the owner and winemaker, Rafael Hernandez, had just been released from the hospital Thursday after having open heart surgery!! AND he was in the back room still offering direction and suggestions as the tasting progressed. We tasted 10 wines, dries and sweets, whites and reds. Mr. Hernandez leases 100 acres in north Texas. He and a partner bought the property in 2005, opened the winery in 2008, and he bought out his partner in 2011. Shelly learned that the Smokehaus is available for groups of 10 or more.

Texas Vineyard and Smokehaus
Texas Vineyard and Smokehaus

Our final wine destination for the day was Caney Creek Winery outside of Grapeland off of Hwy 287. We had contacted the winery ahead of time to confirm hours of operation and found Rebecca Gayle in the tasting room waiting for us. We are in the same Facebook wine group, Texas Wine Drinkers, and have seen each other’s comments on various posts so it was great to finally meet in person. I knew that they had three wines, all from the same grape…Blanc du Bois. Disclaimer: I do not like Blanc du Bois!! However, I always believe that somewhere, somehow, some winemaker is going to do something with that grape that I’m going to like. With that, I opened my mind and jumped into the tasting. The first one was dry with lots of floral notes on the nose. I’ve about decided that it’s the floral-ness that I generally don’t like. The next wine was the semi-sweet…this one’s tasting notes mentioned bananas. I don’t know if it was the “power of suggestion,” or the actual flavor, but I liked the first taste so much I went back for another. I liked the second taste so much we bought a bottle to have for Thanksgiving Dinner. The third Blanc du Bois wine was the Portejas, a dessert version and it was too sweet for us, and at 22% alcohol it will never be sold in a grocery store! Rebecca’s final wine to taste was a Lenoir Portejas dessert wine, also 22% alcohol. I did not know they had this Lenoir vintage. Even though she only had the four wines to taste, when we looked at our watch as we were gathering to leave we noticed we had been there for TWO hours chatting and having a great visit! Rebecca really enjoyed telling us about their plans for the winery and how they were looking forward to expanding the tasting room, the operations, and the vineyards. We could hear the excitement and the passion for what she and her husband were doing in the wine industry. We are looking forward to following their progress as they grow.

Caney Creek Winery
Caney Creek Winery
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Rebecca Gayle, Caney Creek Winery