While medium-grade wine is fine for easy-drinking, if you’re a true wine connoisseur, higher-end wines can be a better choice.
A great way to discover high-end, premium wines is with a wine club subscription. These clubs connect you with wines that the average consumer doesn’t have access to, allowing you to taste nuanced flavors you won’t get anywhere else.
This guide will walk you through some of the best high end wine clubs in the US. And after that, we’ll also share tips on how you can choose the best high-end wine club for your specific needs.
Quick comparison table
Best high-end wine clubs
There are several wine clubs out there that focus exclusively on sourcing luxury wines for subscribers. Also, many of the well-known or bigger wine clubs actually have their own premium subscriptions for those who want a better drinking experience.
In this article, we’ve put together a list of the top high-end wine clubs for you to choose from.
Wine Access is a club that’s well-known among wine lovers for sourcing rare or hard-to-find bottles. And, for those looking for premium wines, they have a special subscription called the Collector’s Club.
The Collector’s Club features luxurious wine collections from various iconic wineries worldwide. Wine specialists handpick exclusive bottles from the finest wine regions, including:
- Bordeaux Estates
- The Napa Valley
- Grand Cru
You will also gain access to premium-aged library wines and bottles you can’t obtain from standard retail wine outlets. If you’re looking for bottles you can’t find on grocery store shelves, this is a good subscription to choose.
While you can definitely find collector’s bottles with this club, they will cost you quite a bit. Although the subscription generally includes shipping, you’ll have to pay additional taxes, which can make the price of your shipment upwards of $250.
Moreover, there’s an additional shipping fee for those who live in Hawaii or Alaska. If you reside in one of these states, the high cost of the club may make it a bit inaccessible.
Aside from the wine bottles, each shipment also comes with free climate-controlled storage for your drinks. This is very helpful for collectors who want to add new, exclusive wines to their wine cellar.
The Collector’s Club also grants subscribers the following:
- Invitations to private wine tasting events
- Exclusive access to limited off-the-site selections
- Initial access to the series’ limited allocations
- A 10% discount on all one-time purchases on Wine Access
- Free access to the wine club’s concierge services
These benefits make it a great club for those who are serious about collecting specialty and premium bottles of wine.
Check on Wine Access
- Sources wines from some of the best wine regions in the world.
- Includes a storage box with each shipment.
- Many bottles can’t be found on grocery store shelves.
- Includes some nice other benefits for wine connoisseurs.
- A bit expensive, especially in Alaska or Hawaii.
The International Wine of the Month Club focuses on estate bottles and limited wine productions. This club sources all of its bottles from famous wine-producing regions around the world, which is great for those who want to try premium bottles from outside the US.
International Wine of the Month Club is tailored to wine connoisseurs who really want to engage with the industry. Every shipment not only includes two bottles of premium wine, but also detailed wine profiles, a history of the winery, suggested food pairings, and comprehensive tasting notes.
There are several subscriptions available with this club, but for high-end wine connoisseurs, the Collectors Series and the Masters series are the best choices. These two clubs have exclusive wine bottles that are hard to find in most retail stores, and which have unique, intense, and complex flavors you won’t find elsewhere.
In terms of price, the International Wine of the Month Club’s premium subscriptions are some of the cheapest high-end wine subscriptions out there. However, you do have to pay for shipping, so make sure to factor that in.
This wine club features a 100% money-back guarantee for wine bottles you don’t enjoy, offering either a replacement or a refund, which is a nice touch.
- Includes a lot of information with each shipment.
- Great choice of high-end international wines.
- Good value.
- None to mention, great choice for a high-end wine club subscription.
California Wine Club is a wine subscription that sources blends exclusively from the state of California. The club focuses on partnering with local, family-owned wineries and supporting the state’s wine industry.
California Wine Club has a few different affordable subscriptions, but if you want premium wines, they have something called the Aged Cabernet Series membership.
The Aged Cabernet Series includes bottles sourced from Napa and Sonoma, two of California’s most famous wine regions. Each of the bottles in the collection are aged for twelve years and handpicked by sommeliers.
What’s unique about this membership is that individuals who want to continue aging their wines can do so in a proper wine cellar. This makes it a great subscription if you want to buy wines that will continue to appreciate in value over time.
The one thing to note is that the Aged Cabernet Series focuses exclusively on cabernet, and includes only two bottles per shipment. If you’re not a fan of cabernet or you want to buy wine in bulk, both those factors can be a bit of a drawback.
Still, even though they only include two bottles of wine, you get a copy of Uncorked Magazine’s latest issue, plus fun information about the wines, as well as pairing tips, and tasting notes. For those who are interested in the wine industry or want to learn more about their wines, this can be a nice perk.
Additionally, the Aged Cabernet Series grants you access to the club’s wine consultants, who can help you choose the best wine for your taste preferences. Even if they end up not getting it quite right, the California Wine Club offers a guarantee that will provide you with a new bottle or refund in the event that you don’t like your wines.
In terms of price, the California Wine Club is a pretty high-end membership thanks to the nature of the wine. Still, they do offer a 50% discount code (WCRHALF) for your first purchase. If you’re not sure that you want to commit to a subscription, this can be a good way to test the club out first.
- Great quality wines.
- Aged bottles.
- Includes plenty of additional information about each wine.
- Unlocks access to wine consultants.
- Only includes cabernet.
Gold Medal Wine Club is another wine club with a California focus. Like California Wine Club, this subscription has partnerships with California’s unique small wineries, so you get an assortment of interesting, small-batch wines.
Although Gold Medal Wine Club has a number of subscriptions available, their high-end offer is the Diamond Club. This is an exclusive subscription which is limited to just 500 customers at any given moment, and the Diamond Club only features wine bottles with ratings of 93 and above, according to a consensus score from wine critics around the world.
The reason this is significant is that it means only those who are really interested in premium wine and winemaking are involved in the club – you get access to a small community of like-minded individuals to connect with. If this is something you’re looking for, Gold Medal Wine Club might be a good choice.
When it comes to the wines themselves, Diamond Club members get quarterly shipments of two bottles. You’ll have to pay for shipping and sales tax, but the cost of the subscription is a bit lower than other premium clubs out there. If you want a high-end wine club without paying a ton of money, this can be a good pick.
Additionally, Gold Medal offers extra discounts that make it even more affordable:
- 10% for every six to eleven bottles purchased
- 12% off for 12 to 23 bottles
- 15% off for more than 24 bottles
You can enjoy several great deals with Gold Medal Wine Club. For instance, you can get free gifts during special holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day, such as wine accessories or gourmet chocolates.
Also, if you’re a new member, your shipment comes with a free cork binder. Since you get tasting notes with each order, this can be a nice way to store your corks and reuse them in the future if you desire.
- Only includes very high-rated bottles.
- Not too expensive compared to other premium wine clubs.
- Cork binder is a nice touch.
- Only includes Californian wine.
Plonk Wine Club is one of the few subscriptions that offers organic bottles for health-conscious wine connoisseurs. All of the wines included in Plonk’s subscriptions are made using zero-chemical processes, helping keep the quality of the beverage high.
Additionally, Plonk focuses on small-batch and biodynamic wines. The founder is a sommelier who still plays an active role in choosing the wineries Plonk partners with and is a passionate wine expert himself, helping to keep the quality of the wines high enough for premium drinkers.
Going off the point system again, most of Plonk’s wines have a point rating of around 93. However, there are bottles like the Powell & Son, Riverside GMS 2017 that have a 100 point rating. If you’re looking for premium wines, you’ll definitely be able to find some good quality blends here.
Moreover, with Plonk, you can choose between a red, white, or mixed subscription. Each of these can come with anywhere from four to six bottles, depending on how much you want to pay. What’s nice about this is that you have a lot more flexibility than you do with other premium clubs.
The issue with Plonk is their subscriptions aren’t very big – if you want to buy 12 bottles for example, you’ll need two subscriptions.
Whereas many premium clubs focus exclusively on one type of wine, such as the California Wine Club’s Aged Cabernet series, Plonk gives you a bit more variety. They also feature high-quality younger wines (generally aged 2-4 years), so you can enjoy some different flavor profiles.
Another perk of Plonk’s subscription is that they provide a double-hinge corkscrew and recipes for wine pairings. Although not essential, this is nice for seasoned wine connoisseurs who want premium wines but aren’t looking to store them for a collection.
Plonk Wine Club also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can get a replacement or refund for any bottles you didn’t enjoy, so even though the cost of the club can be a bit more expensive, you have a guarantee that you’ll enjoy what you receive.
Check on Plonk
- Great if you’re looking for organic wines.
- Each bottle is very well-rated by connoisseurs.
- Good variety of wines available.
- Includes a comprehensive satisfaction guarantee.
- Only small subscriptions available, with a few bottles.
France is one of the world’s top wine producing countries, and as a result, the country has some of the best premium wines.
If you’re interested in trying high-end wines, SomMailier’s C’est La Vie membership focuses exclusively on premium wines sourced from French vineyards.
This subscription includes three bottles shipped out every quarter, and also includes information about the blends, a history of the wine, stories from the winemakers, and a guide to the wine regions that the bottles are sourced from. This is excellent for those who want to try French wines without having to travel a long way or pay exorbitant prices.
Club C’est La Vie allows you to choose from purely reds, whites, or a mix of red and white wines. This is great for those who only want a specific type of premium wine.
French wine bottles from C’est La Vie are great for aging. If you want more complex flavors, age them in a dark place at the right temperature, between 45º and 65ºF (about 7º to 18ºC). On the other hand, if you’re just looking for high-end wines to drink right away, these bottles are also a good choice.
Check on SomMailer
- Fantastic French wines.
- Bottles are great for aging.
- Lots of information included about each bottle, which is useful because many of them are quite uncommon in the US.
- Only offers French wine.
How to choose a high-end wine club
Choosing a premium wine club isn’t something to be taken lightly, as these clubs tend to be a bit more expensive than most other wine subscriptions. Also, you need to find clubs that really do offer the premium wines they say they do.
Here are helpful tips you can use to make sure you choose a high-end club that’s worth signing up to.
Look at the types of wineries
The wineries where wine clubs source their bottles from have a significant effect on the wines’ taste and flavor profiles.
For instance, small-batch wineries normally have much more nuanced flavors. They also tend to put a bit more care into their winemaking process, producing higher-end wines overall. So, the smaller and more exclusive a winery is, the more likely it is that you’ll get great quality wines.
In contrast, larger wineries often focus more on the process of mass producing wines as opposed to focusing on creating nuanced flavors. While these wines can still taste great, they may not be quite as high-quality as small-batch wines.
Look at the types of wineries that a club sources its blends from before joining. If they have a good number of local and small-batch wineries included, you’re more likely to receive a high-end subscription.
When you look at a wine club, they often list out the wineries they source from on their about page or on the product page for each wine in your subscription.
Take a minute to read through which wineries they partner with, and look into what those wineries’ processes are like. This should give you a good idea as to whether they’re artisanal wineries, or mass-producers of wine.
Check the location the wines come from
Certain regions are able to produce higher quality wines thanks to the local climate and growing conditions. Since these conditions directly affect the flavor profile and quality of the wine, it’s important to look for wines sourced from these regions.
Research where the wines a club offers are sourced from. This helps you ensure you’re purchasing wines from areas where the growing conditions are conducive to high-quality and premium wines.
Some of the top wine-growing regions in the world include:
- Marlborough, New Zealand: famous for Sauvignon Blanc
- Barossa Valley, Australia: famous for Shiraz
- Maipo Valley, Chile: famous for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay
- Mendoza, Argentina: famous for Malbec and Bonarda
- La Rioja, Spain: famous for Tempranillo
- Napa Valley, California, USA: famous for Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Bordeaux, France: famous for Merlot and Syrah
- Tuscany, Italy: famous for Prosecco and Pinot Grigio
- Cape Winelands, South Africa: famous for Chenin Blanc
You can find great wines from other regions, and you can also find other blends from each of these regions that taste great. However, looking to see if any of the wine-location pairings above are included in your subscription is a good start to making sure you’re getting what you’re paying for.
Research the winemakers
It’s not just the climate and growing conditions that affect the quality of wine. The winemakers’ experience and process also affect how the wine will turn out.
Before selecting a particular club, do some research on what wineries and winemakers the club partners with. You need clubs that partner with winemakers who have experience in creating good wines and who also have a process for creating quality bottles.
Most wine subscriptions list the winemaker and winery on the product page for each bottle included in your order. A quick read-through of the product page should tell you which winemakers to research online (look at what wine critics and bloggers have to say) to ensure you’re getting quality bottles.
Look for aged and vintage bottles
The longer a wine bottle is aged, the better and more pronounced the flavors are. Vintage bottles are aged at specific temperatures and environmental conditions for set periods of time to help bring out these flavors. These aged bottles also tend to be much higher-end wines than those that haven’t been aged.
When looking for a wine club, look for subscriptions that offer vintage and aged bottles. These wines are more likely to be premium blends with distinct tasting notes which you won’t find in lower-end wines.
Take note of how wines are selected
Most premium wine clubs handpick the wine bottles they offer. Handpicking ensures each bottle is high-quality and fresh, and it gives you confidence that the bottles that the club chooses really are up to the standard you’re seeking.
In contrast, when clubs simply select wines based on affiliates that they have, the bottles are less likely to provide you with the quality you’re looking for. Instead, the club focuses on promoting existing partnerships with wineries.
When selecting a high-end wine club, check how the wines are selected. Look for clubs that handpick their wines or have sommeliers and wine experts choosing which wines to include in your subscription.
A high-end wine club takes expert winemakers, unique wineries, and expert winemakers to succeed. They’re excellent choices for collectors who want to add new bottles to their wine cellars or for wine connoisseurs who are looking for unique-tasting blends.
If you’re still unsure about which high-end wine club to choose, feel free to leave us a comment, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
About the author
My name’s Jessica, and I’m a full-time writer and part-time wine lover. I love being able to share expertise through the power of words.
I’m a self-proclaimed wine expert who’s been a patron and member of multiple vineyards. As someone who’s lived in the California Napa Valley and studied wine formally at the university level, I’ve gained a good chunk of knowledge on wine, its origins, and the current market.
I particularly like a good burgundy, but failing that, dry white wine is my go-to. Today you’ll find me sharing my wine expertise with the world. I may or may not have a glass of wine by my desk as I do it.