Imagine belonging to a club that has no meetings, no board of directors, no internal politics, and every month members receive a couple of bottles of wine delivered to their door by Canada Post.
There are more than 80 Ontario wineries, and most sell only a few of their wines, if any, through the LCBO. This has nothing to do with quality. Most Ontario wineries do not produce enough cases of wine to fill LCBO’s shelves.
Connoisseurs can taste “limited editions” at restaurants that specialize in serving Ontario wine, at the winery’s retail outlet, by special order, or for a small monthly fee, by joining a winery club.
Vineland Estates Winery is known for its popular dry Riesling which is sold at the LCBO. But the winery also has a good reputation for its excellent Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir and Cabernet Franc.
Vineland Estate wine club members receive two bottles of wine (one for tasting, one for the cellar or giving) every month. Each package comes with recipes, food pairing suggestions, tasting notes, and tips from the winemaker. Members also receive special offers.
There are three collection membership levels to choose from: the chef’s collection, the winemaker’s collection, and the president’s collection, priced respectively at $40, $55 and $90 per month. After a six-month trial subscription, membership can be cancelled at anytime with written notice of 30 days.
Vineland members recently received two bottles of 2006 Merlot ($18.95). The Merlot arrived with a recipe for beef tips in mustard jus served over pasta, and a sample package of pasta. The member newsletter included information about special events at the winery, the Niagara region, and a discussion of wine-related issues such as the debate on screw caps versus corks.
Perhaps the best known Ontario winery is Inniskillin. Wine drinkers who want to try its limited editions can do so for as little as $55 per month. Members also receive discounts on non-wine merchandise at the winery’s shop, access to special events and passport programs, and free shipping for orders more than $250. There is also a monthly newsletter, highlighting tasting notes and food pairings.
Not all Ontario wineries have monthly clubs but most have websites that offer information on how to purchase their wine through special orders.