As a wine club member you have a nonpareil and very personal connection to a site, a winemaking practice, and there’s something about the story that strikes you and coerces you to buy, and replenish your cellar with those bottles. Some wineries push wine club too heavily, turning the feel of the visit to something mirroring a used car lot, or timeshare marketing effort. And we’re all different with wine clubs, and what we’re comfortable with. But I’m one of the small, family producer. I only belong to one club, Lancaster Estate’s, tucked away on Chalk Hill Road and cosmically ideal for consumers like me, that want to be a part of a winery story and enjoy wines that can only be made one way and at one concise location.
On days you pick up it’s like xmas, or a birthday, or just a gift giving day all about you, about receiving a gift from you to you. Today was one such day for me, finally getting out to Lancaster after a pusillanimous semester of four classes spread over three campuses. I needed today and Lancaster was there for me, tasting through the flight beginning with the ’14 SB, then the ’12 Sophia’s, mostly a Cab-centered cuvée, then to two Cabs to the side of each other, the ’10 and the ’12. I thought to myself, “I love picking up.” Some get their wines shipped to them as members, living out of state or in some far part of CA. But for me, and any other Sonoma or Napa or Marin, or Mendo, member, they drive to the base, the chic unpretentious salon on Lancaster’s Estate to get their case or half case or what them awaits– for me, 9 bottles today, 3 SB, 3 Sophias, and 3 “LE’s” which is curt for ‘Lancaster Estate’ (connoting Cabernet).
The first pickup day for me in a while, so I took my time even though I had a car appointment in under two hours, I wanted to reconnect with the wines like a friend I hadn’t seen in too long. This was a long time in cue, and the “wine club member” dimension and “privilege” to my visit skipped from my thoughts entirely. Actually, never really there. I was just at a family member’s house, visiting, tasting wine and taking in the story and remembering why I joined without focusing on the whole ‘I’m a wine club member’ disposition. I don’t have that, I can firmly affirm. They’ve made me that comfortable, feel welcome to such stratospheric level. I’m a wine lover at a house whose wine I’m more than in love with. And that’s why someone should join a club, stemming from conviction that your senses are more than in love with the wines.. that you’re doing more than just collecting the wines.. that you’ve been taught something by that winemaking and hospitality tone and characterization.
Now, I’m at that bloody car appointment, waiting for news of what’s going on with my wheels, and I can only think about what I dropped off at home in my cellar (more a closet close to the kitchen) before coming here. I know I should age them, but I want to pop one tonight. I nearly have to, from what I tasted and how it haunts me. That’s when you know, that’s when you understand the connection with a winery, where you’re supposed to be a member; that’s how you can see you’ve been taught something, and not just with how a varietal’s interpreted and produced, but about your relationship with wine and why you’ve elected to be part of this barreled world and life, smattered with electric chapters.