Hollywood’s Favorite Wine Clubs That Offer Expert Curation — and Celebrity Blends
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COVID lockdowns dramatically upended purchasing habits everywhere, including in the wine business. With restaurants shuttered and home-bound happy hours commencing early and often, digital U.S. wine sales rose 32 percent to $760 billion in 2020, per a report from wine-business analyst Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank.
Many oenophiles also turned to monthly and quarterly direct-ship wine clubs to keep their home cellars stocked. And while wineries, distributors and shops used to be the main drivers of wine clubs, now experts, restaurants and the tech world have jumped in.
For those who are either overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by what’s available in stores — and dig the ease of doorstep delivery — curated wine clubs, with anywhere from a few bottles to a dozen a shipment, offer a solution as well as discovery and a way to “travel” to other regions and countries.
ICM agent Josie Freedman is a fan of Clos Solène (clossolene.com), founded by French expat winemaker Guillaume Fabre in Paso Robles, California. “The philosophy behind his winemaking is the best,” says Freedman. “Small production, family-owned, personal connection.”
Clos Solène focuses on Rhône-inspired blends and ships to members twice a year in two categories: Le Connaisseur and L’Expert ($272 to $516, three to six bottles). Those who opt to collect their wine allotment in person might be treated to cheese-monger wine pairings and visits with the winemakers. Other Paso vintners with wine club offerings — and French connections — include Benom and L’Aventure.
Wine clubs have been on the rise for more than a decade. “Now there are thousands of wine clubs,” says Etty Klein, who founded online wine shop Plonk in 2009 and added a wine club (plonkwineclub.com) in 2011. “That pandemic year saw the largest growth I’ve seen in 11 years and it continued. It set a new standard for everyone selling wine online.”
Describing her choices as “off-the-beaten-path, hidden-gem wines you’d never find on your own,” Klein puts an emphasis on responsibly farmed, low-intervention wine that’s sourced globally and value-priced. Plonk has three choices: all red, all white, or — the most popular — mixed ($110 to $285 a month, four to 12 bottles). Shipments come with paired recipes.
Various clubs with a similar ethos to Plonk have emerged recently. Crudo e Nudo (crudoenudo.com), Santa Monica’s sustainable-seafood raw bar headed by chef Brian Bornemann (formerly of Michael’s) and Leena Culhane, launched as a pop-up during the pandemic.
Its wine club evolved by chance when the CEO of subscription platform Table22 (which reps wine clubs and meal kits from unique restaurants all over the U.S.) happened to come in for a meal.
Crudo e Nudo’s wine club has three tiers ($39 to $89, two to three bottles) alongside a tinned fish club (they’re hoping to add fresh fish soon). Its clean-wine emphasis zeroes in on female and family winemakers and wines to pair with fish. “A lot of our regulars get the three tin fish a month and add on a bottle or two of wine,” says Culhane. All come with tasting notes and pairing recipes.
Tresomm winemaker and former Osteria Mozza sommelier Taylor Grant’s wine club, Salutay (salutay.la), launched in 2021. It ships quarterly and offers three types of memberships ranging from the more traditional to more experimental ($165 to $477, six to 12 bottles) with a “general baseline of well-made, well-intentioned wines,” says Grant. The upcoming selection will include Tresomm’s Grignoliño rosé, made in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.
A number of actors have joined the wine-club frenzy. Co-owned by Heels actor Stephen Amell, Washington-based wine club Nocking Point (nockingpointwines.com) teamed in 2020 with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis to create a pinot noir dubbed Quarantine to benefit COVID-response charities and the couple recently unveiled a new red blend Outside.
Nocking Point also has partnered with Nicole Scherzinger, Jason Momoa and NBA player/abstract artist Desmond Mason on special bottles. Its quarterly wine club includes three bottles, one bag of coffee and one swag item ($99).
“The space has changed a lot,” says Plonk’s Klein. “There’s a dividing line between a quality club and tech companies that are algorithm-based, millennial-facing clubs and have people take quizzes to get their taste profile.” (A sample: Which candy would you pick out of a bowl if “some lunatic mixed Skittles and M&Ms in the same bowl?”) Klein doesn’t believe in that methodology and each shipment is a surprise. Says Klein, “My take is curation.”
A version of this story first appeared in the March 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
source : https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-news/hollywood-wine-clubs-jason-momoa-mila-kunis-1235102287/