Wineries Are Moving Beyond Traditional Subscriptions. Exclusive Benefits? Check.
Complimentary pool access. Preferred hotel rates. A trip to a regenerative farm. This is the new California winery subscription.
Picture this: You’re sipping an ’18 Blanc at the Pierre Koenig–designed Hollywood pool house, the sun just beginning to set beyond the hills. You’re one of the first to drink it—and one of the few people to step onto the historic piece of property—because you’re a member of Napa Valley winery Ashes & Diamonds. And that’s just one of the club perks.
The winery’s VIPs also get complimentary pool access at the recently renovated Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs in Calistoga, not to mention preferred rates at other hotels and exclusive event invitations—à la the ‘18 Blanc release. It’s a standout example of the way California wineries are moving beyond the traditional subscription model. Exclusive benefits? Check.
“I would be lying if I didn’t mention it was partially self-serving,” said Ashes & Diamonds owner and proprietor Kashy Khaledi, a creative executive who produces sophisticated, classic wines made by well-known winemakers Steve Matthiasson and Diana Snowden Seysses. “So many of our friends always ask where they should stay, what’s the best form of transportation, what wineries they should visit, et cetera. Now we have a network of really cool travel partners to recommend to friends and members.”
Napa Valley hotel Carneros Resort & Spa, airline Surf Air, and more are among the partners for Ashes & Diamonds members. That’s in addition to an annual wine shipment, with levels ranging from $345 to $1,290.
“Seeking out the harmony and creative spark in collaborations between people of wildly different backgrounds of culture or genre is something I have always done. It’s very Californian, in a way,” said Khaledi, whose work in entertainment and advertising includes clients such as Universal Music Group and Live Nation, according to the winery website. “The most exciting cuisine here has historically been inspired by our immigrant populations but through the prism of California nouvelle.”
Less than 5 miles north in Napa, Hoopes Vineyard is also creating experiences for members that you can’t find anywhere else. Join the winery’s “Oasis Herd” and part of your fee is donated to its animal sanctuary, a home for mini horses, pigs, and dogs. You then choose how to spend the rest, whether it’s a wine allocation or time at the sanctuary and regenerative farm.
“This way, members can create their own adventure: If they love wine, they can spend their annual commitment on wine. If they prefer visiting the animal sanctuary, they can spend time with their kids and the animals,” said proprietor Lindsey Hoopes. “We get rid of the forced wine allocations and allow people to get the perks of membership, with the flexibility of consuming with us the way that they want.”
Of course if wine allocations are your thing, Hoopes offers clubs solely for that, too. You can also join “Sophie’s Chef Squad” for access to seven cooking classes with partner chefs including Food Network stars and James Beard Award winners. Members receive a food box with ingredients, plus three bottles of wine. The winery offers five clubs in total, ranging from $1,200 to $5,000.
Now, this wouldn’t be a story about California winery subscriptions without a nod to Scribe, which has amassed a cult following among its Viticultural Society a bit further west. Members—and members only—have the opportunity to reserve a tasting at the Sonoma winery’s 1920s hacienda, set back against dizzying rows of vines.
Yes, that means in addition to four seasonal wine allocations, you can sip the estate’s Pinot Noir near the onsite garden and farm. It’s a bit of an otherworldly experience to be there beneath the palm trees, seated at a corner table surrounded by columns with cracked paint, a glass at your fingertips, the breeze on your cheek.
“We have built a community of enthusiasts of Scribe’s approach to terroir-focused winemaking,” winemakers Andrew and Adam Mariani say, “and the shared appreciation of gathering at a table together.”
Join the Viticultural Society—with seasonal wine allocations starting at roughly $200 per year for four bottles—and you can bring up to five friends (or family) on your visit. Choose wisely.
And if you can’t make it to the hacienda, that Pinot Noir will be available in magnums available for purchase online this month, so you can bring the Scribe party home with you this fall.