There’s something that NPR, Martha Stewart, the NRA, Virgin Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal all have in common: a wine club. NPR’s advertises a Weekend Edition primitivo from Puglia and an Embedded cabernet sauvignon from California. Virgin Atlantic offers a Rolling Stones merlot and a red blend from the Police called “Synchronicity.”
The presupposition of these clubs is that if you are an NPR listener or a Martha Stewart fan or a gun enthusiast, you will also enjoy their wines.
For the record:
2:59 PM, Nov. 11, 2019This story incorrectly said that SommSelect is based in Napa and has two wine clubs. It is based in Sonoma and has three wine clubs.
But often, the wines have little meaningful association to the brands or people fronting them, and the clubs are simply too good to be true. You’re hooked with a low-priced introductory offer and, by the time you realize you’re on the hook for another shipment at twice the price, it’s too late to cancel.
Early wine clubs were more true to their missions. The Wine of the Month Club was founded in the early 1970s by an Armenian pharmacist; another early entrant, the California Wine Club, was started by a couple out of their home in 1990.
But the idea didn’t hit mainstream until major media companies got into the game about a decade ago, according to Gerri-Lynn Becker, president of the California Wine Club. (The Times recently launched its own wine club.)
“The good thing is the concept of a wine club became…
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