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B.C. winery offers club members sneak taste of unreleased wines

Time:2018-01-21 22:21wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Romanow: Okanagan winery invites drinkers to join the club

James Romanow doesn't belong to any clubs in Canada at the moment, but a new one from Liquidity Winery intrigued the wine writer. The club is marketing itself as “Canada’s first tasting club,” offering previews of wines that haven't been released yet.

James Romanow, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

James Romanow, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Published on: January 21, 2018 | Last Updated: January 21, 2018 6:00 AM CST

Over the course of the last few decades I’ve been a participant in, and an observer of, several wine clubs. Back when I was just a wee, young thing, hunting for mastodons and shopping at the local government liquor store, about the only way to get decent wine was the Opimian Society. They sent in a few containers semi-annually in those days.

In the United States — in some states the marketing system is no more enlightened than when the SLGA hid bottles in the back room and talked to you only through a vent in a glass window — wine clubs flourish as a valid business plan. The one I joined sent three bottles to me, featuring different wineries six times a year.

Today in Canada, there are many “wine clubs” which really are mail-order marketing clubs for the winery. We haven’t quite evolved to a medieval state of governance yet. The sundry provincial marketing boards insist on poking their noses into such arrangements, doing their absolute best to interfere in inter-provincial trading.

In one case a few years back, I wrote up an Ontario winery’s club, and the SLGA promptly ratted the winery out to the LCBO, who in turn did their best to make the winery’s life a living hell. Such is the state of “free interprovincial trade” in Canada. This may all get settled soon, as there is a case before the Supreme Court on this very issue. Among other briefs presented to the court is one by the Okanagan wineries.

I don’t belong to any clubs in Canada at the moment, but a new one from Liquidity Winery crossed my desk this week. I draw your attention to it for a few reasons. Firstly, they have a relatively new winemaker whose wines I find impressive. Secondly, they did something quite different with their club. It is “Canada’s first tasting club.”

B.C. winery offers club members sneak taste of unreleased wines

Okanagan-based winery Liquidity offers a wine club that lets people sample wine that hasn’t yet been released. (Photo by James Romanow) Saskatoon

They send out two boxes a year consisting of three 200-ml bottles of wines soon to be released. This gives you the chance to taste the wines before ordering from the winery. The club costs $75. When you join you make a commitment to buy 18 wines throughout the year, six of which must be from the reserve tier. (This last requirement shouldn’t be a problem. The real reason to belong to such clubs is to get your lips on limited release reserve wines.)

Liquidity ships their wines in any combination of three. You can order three or six or 12 (the box sizes) or any number divisible by three. You have complete user choice over which wines you buy and how many of each.

Should you find yourself in the Okanagan, you can have a complimentary tasting for up to six people, one of whom must of course be the member. Even better, they’ll discount your food by 10 per cent at the winery.

Here’s the part of the club that really interests me: The shipper is a medical products shipper. Their trucks are temperature controlled for obvious reasons. The wines will arrive neither baked nor frozen on your doorstep. One winery shipped to me in November. Unbeknownst to both of us, the air freight company loaded their delivery trucks the night before. Although at the time I wasn’t worried about freezing, eight hours in an uninsulated truck at about -5 C was enough for me to receive a dozen Popsicles.

Liquidity Chardonnay Reserve 2015, $42

More information about Liquidity wine clubs can be found at   Some Liquidity wines are available at Co-op.

More regular reds next week.



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