Wine clubs offer more than just an opportunity to sip on something unfamiliar. They position the public to learn more about the people who crafted the wine, the winemaking process, and the region where the grapes were grown. There’s even the possibility to forge a community with like-minded oenophiles in the region. Each of the following nine D.C. area wine clubs brings its own flair and focus.
Founded by Michelle Lim Warner and Michael Warner in 2013, DCanter focuses on artisanal, sustainable, and organic wines made by small producers. Their wine club is so personalized that it may be the best option for wine lovers who only want offerings that suit their specific tastes.
DCanter doesn’t call its wine club a wine club and doesn’t refer to its members as members. Instead, every customer that joins its Concierge personal wine shopping service is a “client” with preferences and a custom budget that can range from $15 per bottle to more than $30 per bottle. Staff members will select three, six, or 12 wines per month for each client. An app lets customers view tasting notes for the wines they receive, communicate with their “personal sommelier,” and rate their wines with feedback.
Michelle and her husband started Concierge in 2016 to provide customers the convenience of delivery with the same level of expertise and interaction they would get if shopping at the store. “It’s really about the customer’s palate, the customer’s taste, what they like, what they don’t like, and what their goals are for their wine journey,” she says.
DCanter can deliver to D.C. and Northern Virginia addresses inside the Beltway.
Wasted Wives serves as a conduit for expanding Black-owned wine businesses, celebrating these communities, their entrepreneurs, and the stories they have to tell. Less than one percent of the winemakers and brand owners in the U.S. are Black. The mission of this D.C.-based quarterly wine service is to shine a spotlight on Black-owned wineries, both domestic and international.
Co-founders Shantelle Dockett and Krystle Champagne launched Wasted Wives in June 2020 following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Around this time, Dockett created “The Black List,” a directory promoting a variety of Black-owned businesses from different industries. When wineries were added to the list, the pair had what Dockett describes as an “ah-ha” moment.
Champagne describes Wasted Wives as wine with a mission. “What also separates our box is that these are not really well known winemakers,” she says. “Some of them are smaller. Some of them are family-owned wines … They are not always going to be found in your big-box retailers.”
For $85, members of Wasted Wives receive a quarterly shipment of three wines: one red, one white, and one wildcard such as sparkling or rosé. They can ship wines to D.C. and Virginia addresses. While delivery to Maryland residents is not currently offered, Wasted Wives offers pick-up points in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. As Wasted Wives continues its growth, Dockett and Champagne hope to introduce virtual and in-person tastings and other events.
Julio R. Robledo and Pedro J. Rodríguez both moved to the District in 2007, but didn’t meet until two years later while working at an NGO. They bonded over a mutual passion for food and wine. Rodríguez was born in California, raised in Puerto Rico, and studied in Barcelona, Spain, before beginning a career in international media development, while Robledo is a former Chilean journalist who moved to D.C. to work in retail with the hopes of expanding his palate and English language skills.
Both Robledo and Rodríguez noticed a scarcity of wines in the city that were imported from Latin America. After several years of research, their dreams to fill that niche became reality when they opened Grand Cata in Shaw in 2016 and inside La Cosecha near Union Market in 2020.
“We wanted to leverage a little bit of the European-centric wine consumers to show them that Latin American wines can also play in the same fields as their European counterparts,” Rodríguez says.
Since Grand Cata launched its wine club in 2016, they’ve grown their membership from 12 to 300 people. Sign up and score two wines per month, plus additional perks like a 10 percent discount off all past wine club wines and invitations to special events and on-demand wine classes. It costs $44.10 for one month, $118.80 for three months, or $224.40 for six months. Gran Cata can deliver to D.C. addresses.
When this Truxton Circle wine shop from Jeff Segal and importer Selection Massale opened in November of 2018, it was with a focus on natural wines, plus a selection of beer, cider, sake, and spirits. The Domestique team created a wine club believing they can move beyond helping the curious or indecisive customer discover wines to cultivating communities of like-minded people.
Members of Domestique’s wine club gain access to lively online discussion. Eric Moorer, director of sales and customer engagement, says the club’s digital community chats about each month’s shipment of wines, recipe recommendations, and the occasional dog photo.
“It’s a really welcoming place no matter where you are in your wine journey,” Moorer says. “There’s always room for conversation … There’s never a bad question or a bad opinion, except for putting baked beans on pizza, which was a whole thing that we talked about for about a week.”
Since its opening, Domestique has been named one of the best online wine shops by Food & Wine and one of the best natural wine retailers in America by Wine Enthusiast. Moorer says they strive to provide the “absolute best” wines to their customers, wines they don’t see other wine clubs offering.
Wine club members receive three to four wines for $75 a month, along with a 5 percent discount on in-store purchases. Domestique delivers everywhere within D.C. proper. There are also shipping options to some states.
The wine club at District Winery may offer the most discounts and other perks to those who join. Members can choose to receive four, six, or 12 bottles of wine made by District Winery on a quarterly basis with shipments going out in February, May, September, and December. Members can request whites and rosés, reds, or “Winemaker’s Choice,” which is a mix of the two.
Prices range between $99 to $349 per quarter and members also receive 20 percent off all wine purchases and onsite dining for up to three guests, 20 percent off winery tours and ticketed public events, exclusive access to library wines and limited releases, early VIP access to event tickets, and a free glass of wine for every member and their guest on Mondays.
Founded by Brian Leventhal and John Stires, District Winery focuses on making small batch wines using grapes from boutique vineyards across the country. They also operate Brooklyn Winery, which opened in New York in 2010. District Winery Executive Director of Winemaking Conor McCormack says opening in Navy Yard in 2017 was a “no-brainer” for them as D.C. was on the top of their list based on the city’s burgeoning food scene.
According to McCormack, the wine club’s creation was spurred by the pandemic. It launched in its current iteration in September 2020.
To keep a communal feel, District Winery offers virtual and in-person wine tastings every quarter. McCormack says they help the public gain not just knowledge about wine, but friendships with other wine lovers. “It was a way for us to reach people,” he says.
District Winery can ship to D.C. and 40 states, including Maryland and Virginia.
Reveler’s Hour, an Adams Morgan restaurant and wine shop from the same owners as Tail Up Goat, grew a wine club out of the virtual wine classes co-owner and sommelier Bill Jensen brought to life during the pandemic.
“It’s a bit onerous to maintain a weekly schedule and run two restaurants, but we wanted to continue to engage the people that really enjoyed those classes, so I thought it would be fun to offer a monthly wine club,” Jensen says.
Each month’s $100 wine club allotment comes with four bottles along with a 5 percent discount off all wine store purchases through the month’s end. On the last Sunday of every month, there’s an accompanying virtual wine class that club members and the public can participate in. “It feels like a nice opportunity to spend time with each of these individual wines,” Jensen says. Orders for each month’s box can be placed on Toast.
Jensen aspires to grow Reveler’s Hour wine offerings and cultivate a tight-knit community. “You’re developing this relationship over time with a vendor and they remember what you like and what you don’t like, and you can kind of grow in your relationship with something like wine,” he says. “I think those are the most rewarding kinds of experiences to have … We want the wine club to be a part of that journey for people.”
Customers can pick up the wines at Reveler’s Hour or pay extra for delivery to D.C, Virginia, or Maryland.
Woong Chang says he’s sick, tired, and frankly bored of discourse that focuses solely on how wine tastes rather than who makes the wine, who transports the wine, and who picks the grapes. “I want to have a conversation about all of that, the people,” says the founder of 6ft Wine Club.
Not only that, but Chang sees the weekly Zoom classes he offers members as a kind of “online wine bar.” For the first hour or so, he takes people through regions, grape varieties, and producer profiles. Then he hosts an “after hours” segment where members can play games and socialize. “To me, at the end of the day, wine is really about people,” says Chang, who most recently served as the general manager at Primrose in Brookland.
He launched his virtual, D.C.-based wine club in April 2020 and has since gone national because he can ship to over 40 states and D.C. Members receive four to six bottles per month for $150, plus shipping or delivery fees. The wines vary based on a central theme like a specific wine region. “Really, there are no rules,” Chang says. The only constant is the wines he features are natural wines.
Chang says he committed earlier this year to donate one percent of gross revenue to an organization whose mission he likes such as Climate Ride, The Trevor Project, and Bread for the City.
Cleveland Park retailer Weygandt Wines has catered to wine enthusiasts in search of more exclusive selections for more than a decade. Beyond that, founder Peter Weygandt has been importing wines from France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and other regions for more than 30 years.
General Manager Warren Leonard says many of the wines the shop stocks today are from producers that Weygandt has forged long-standing personal relationships with. “We know them personally and we hand-select everything not just for the shop, but also for the wine club,” Leonard says. “We’re looking to showcase our portfolio, not just move wine.”
The wine club has five monthly options: the $30 Classic for the best value, the $50 Gourmet for wines from France, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Germany, the $60 Vin Rouge for reds; the $60 Vin Blanc for whites, and the $100 Collectors for rare and special finds. Members also receive a 15 percent discount on all regularly priced wine in the shop. With the discount, “the wine club almost pays for itself,” Leonard says.
Weygandt Wines recommends picking up wine club parcels in person.
Damon Callis credits his wife and business partner, Georgia Callis, for entering the world of winemaking. After meeting Georgia’s father, an immigrant from Greece whose pastime was winemaking, Damon learned more about how to produce wines. Eventually, this hobby and family tradition turned into a passion project and a new path for both of their lives. Before entering the winemaking business, Damon was a Marine Corps veteran, financial planner, and small business benefits advisor. Meanwhile, Georgia was a nurse at Georgetown University Hospital.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign and new state legislation allowing for an urban winery model in Montgomery County, The Urban Winery debuted in Silver Spring in 2015. The space boasts a tasting room, production room, barrel room, and lab space.
Urban Winery’s Barrel Club members can select a three-bottle Collector’s option or a six-bottle Connoisseur’s option. Both ship wines every February, May, August, and November. With quarterly prices between $90 to $180, members are also offered a 10 percent discount for a facility rental and a 15 percent discount for a winemaking experience. Members can also get a glass of wine and private tasting for themselves and a guest at pickup, plus access to member-only events and new wine releases before the general public.
“Our wine club [members] are definitely family,” Georgia says. “I want to know them, and I want to recognize them when they walk through that door. It’s definitely a more intimate, exclusive type of a barrel club because we know all of our members.”
For those who may live further away, Georgia says that The Urban Winery is also developing a “Bottle Club” where members can sign up for three or six bottles or a case on a quarterly basis. This option, costing between $60 up to $150 per quarter is more customizable.
Members who join the “Barrel Club” are recommended to pick up their wine in store, but shipping is available to approximately 35 states and D.C.