A long snowy drive over the pass was adequately rewarded with a visit to Reflection Vineyards. Holly was as entertaining as ever. The biggest revelation was that their reds are about as good or better than anything we have ever tasted; the Viognier that first attracted me last summer was just as good. There are a couple of our other wine clubs, yes we joined Reflection, that may not make the cut.
In the current edition of Wine Spectator, James Aube’s column addresses when it is time to leave a wine, time to try other tastes and vineyards. This visit to Reflection sparked that discussion for us, and then a discussion of why and how we are going to choose wine clubs in the future. We are currently members of 8 yet I anticipate that will drop a bit before the spring shipments.
So we needed a criteria to begin the sorting process:
- The wine must be above average
- The terroir of the tasting room, the staff, and the club is as important as the wine
- The wine must not be readily available at the local grocery store.
The first point is obvious, if the wine is average then why bother, part of the reason for a club is to keep good wine on the table. There are plenty of good wines at Trader Joes and Total Wine, we buy our fair share of those and always will. Wine club wine needs to be a notch above.
Secondly, a wine club is more than just a way to make a purchase. It includes the experience of place, and people. The wine clubs that I enjoy most offer pleasant surroundings and people, along with the glass of wine. Reflection does this well. Their tasting room is a small house looking building with a patio as big as the building. It sits on a hill overlooking grassy field with a hammock, fruit trees, and vineyards. The owner and winemaker, Kent VanArnam, was easy to talk to the one time we met, and Holly’s wit makes it work; she also knows wine and what is behind the wine making.
Another benefit of club membership is having a place to visit where you get free tastings, and a place to hang out for a glass. Some wineries even have private rooms for club members, but I am learning that many of those are the larger operations that may conflict with my desire for more boutique wines. Last summer I sat on the deck at Reflection and did a quick sketch over a glass of their Viognier, a pleasant hour for sure.
Clubs are structured in various ways; do be sure that the requirements are compatible with your taste and budget. Reflection’s wine club is one of the easiest of all that we have seen, and great value for this quality of wine. (91 in Wine Spectator, American Wine Society awards)
The third criteria for selecting a wine club is availability, Reflection is only available through direct orders or their club, so if you want to drink it at home, you get it there. There is of course the feeling of exclusiveness; we have a wine that is not on every table. But more than that is the chance to expand your cellar beyond what the grocery store offers.
So we are glad that we stopped by, I am pleased that I stumbled on to Reflection in August when Dineen Vineyards was closed, I still hope one day to get there, I have missed them 3 times now. We tasted some good wine, we found a good club, and it motivated me to consider how to decide to join wine clubs in the future. Wine is a major hobby, and wine clubs are part of what makes it fun.
TheWinesketcher says, “Join the club!” If you are new to wine, find a winery you like, then join the club.