California Wine Club vs Winc – Which is Best?

Last Updated on

I love wine clubs. I can shop for wine in my pajamas and enjoy all of my favorites without leaving the house. I’ve tried dozens of wine clubs. Some were fantastic and others were overpriced.

California Wine Club and Winc are two of the most popular wine clubs out there, so they’re obvious choices for a healthy comparison. They have their pros and cons, and I really liked them both, but neither was my favorite. However, if you’ve narrowed it down to these top two choices, here’s some more information to help you decide.

Main Differences Between California Wine Club vs Winc

The main differences between California Wine Club vs Winc are:

  • California Wine Club charges a hefty shipping fee, whereas Winc offers free shipping.
  • Winc automatically learns what you like over time using the online portal, whereas California Wine Club manually takes your feedback and adjusts your subscription preferences.
  • California Wine Club ships to all but four states, whereas there are twelve states that Winc ship to.
  • California Wine Club ships pamphlets on the wine included in the box, whereas Winc gives descriptions in the online portal.
  • California Wine Club sources its wines from small family wineries, whereas Winc makes its own wine.

California Wine Club

wine glasses

For a more in-depth review of the California Wine Club, you can read about it here. I think it’s a fantastic option because they have a lot of wine variety, several subscription options to choose from, and a website that’s really easy to navigate.

Subscription options

With six different options, you’ll never run out of things to try. From $40 a month to $200 a month, you can set a budget and drink wine to your heart’s content.

The Premier Wine Club is the most affordable, and while it’s not a bad price, you only get two bottles a month. It’s high-quality wine, which I appreciate, but there are cheaper subscription options out there.

The great thing about this subscription is that the bottles are from small family wineries that normally wouldn’t get this kind of exposure, so you can feel good supporting the little guys.

With the International Selections Wine Club, you can enjoy wines from all over the world. It makes sense that it’s slightly more than the Premier option because you’ll get to try featured wines that you won’t find in the United States.

The Pacific Northwest Series Wine Club highlights wines from northern California, Oregon, and Washington. These places are practically the Mecca for wine in the United States, so you’ll get to try some of the most award-winning varieties this way.

The Signature Series Wine Club ships wines that are ultra-premium and very exclusive. It’s pricey, but if you have it in your budget, it’s worth trying.

The Case Club is just as it sounds. It’s the best value of all and you get twelve bottles with each shipment. Selections from a wide variety of boutique wineries keep this one interesting.

The Aged Cabernet Series Wine Club is the most expensive, but it will not disappoint if you love aged wines. Rather than waiting for your wines to age, order two bottles of perfectly-aged Napa wines to enjoy now.

Shipping

California Wine Club ships almost everywhere in the United States. The only people missing out on this option are Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Utah residents. Unfortunately, some states place too many restrictions on alcohol shipments for California Wine Club to make it work.

While California Wine Club ships to most states, the downside is that they charge for shipping. Some wine clubs charge for shipping and some don’t, but you get a much better value from the clubs that don’t.

What to expect

You may be surprised to find out that the California Wine Club has been around for a lot longer than your average wine club. They’ve been doing monthly wine subscriptions for decades. Luckily, the days of mail order wine are long gone, and the ease of ordering online has replaced it.

The California Wine Club puts a lot of time and effort into sourcing what they feel are the best wines. You’ll often find that the wines you’re receiving aren’t available outside of the state of California, and they’re sometimes not even for sale at the winery where they’re made.

Many family wineries contract directly with California Wine Club for their shipments, so you’ll try wines that no one else can. Signing up is a breeze, with customizations like all white, all red, or a mix of each. Your order comes about two weeks after ordering, which in my opinion, is a bit too long. Other subscriptions ship in a matter of days.

However, because of California Wine Club’s dedication to sourcing only the best, it takes a little bit longer. This same level of dedication is also translated to their customer service, with follow up phone calls and emails from your personal wine consultant.

You can use this wine consultant as your inside contact for changing anything about your subscription from your wine preferences to feedback about your experience with the club. Your first shipment comes with a welcome packet containing information about the club, your subscription, and a subscription to the Uncorked magazine. With every shipment, you’ll read about where your wines came from.

Returning or canceling

California Wine Club has a Love It guarantee. If you don’t like a bottle, they’ll refund it for you. You don’t have to send it back. Simply let your consultant know that you didn’t enjoy that selection and you’ll get your money back.

If you don’t like California Wine Club at all, you can either email or call your consultant at any time and terminate your subscription with no obligation and no fee.

Wrapping up

There’s nothing inherently bad about California Wine Club. You’ll definitely enjoy one of the more personal experiences and dedication to careful sourcing. You can support family wineries in the process.

The downside is that it’s more pricey than others and the website could stand to be updated with a bit more modern flair to compete with some of the other new wine subscriptions.

Winc

winc subscription

Winc has only been around since 2012, but they seem to know what they’re doing. They offer a relaxed and affordable experience that is surprisingly custom. Their name is a fun representation of their excellent customer service, easy monthly pricing, and effortless quality.

For more information about Winc, see a complete review here. Winc offers some of the best execution when it comes to subscribing and shipping wines they know you’ll love, and it all boils down to one simple quiz. Winc is practical and budget-friendly, with recommendations you can count on.

Subscription options

There’s only one refreshingly simple Winc subscription. The kicker is that it truly is custom. Your subscription is built for you, and here’s how.

Before you subscribe, you take a quiz. The quiz asks you about flavor profile preferences, spices you like, and other beverages you enjoy. While some of the questions seem to have nothing to do with wine, the formula they’re using works.

This quiz helps pinpoint wines you’ll like, and as you give feedback about the wines you receive, your boxes get better and better.

After taking the quiz, you can choose whether you would like white, red, or both. You get four bottles with each shipment, so Winc allows you to choose any combination of white and red that you like. You can choose all white, all red, half and half, or one bottle of one and three of the other.

This level of customization is just another reason why Winc is so awesome and can do so much with only one subscription plan.

Once you subscribe, you’ll get access to an account where you can keep track of your subscription and everything else. With every shipment, you’ll get an online portal that displays the wines you’re receiving and allows you to take tasting notes and record your feedback.

They call themselves the Netflix of wine clubs because they’re constantly evaluating your preferences and recommending things they think you’ll like in order to improve your experience.

Shipping

While Winc makes it easy to track your shipments with text updates and tracking numbers, there are also quite a few states they can’t ship to, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Utah.

What to expect

wine

Not only can you expect an awesome customer experience with an easy online portal for keeping track of what you love, but you can also enjoy a lot of rewards with Winc. They give you money off your first box just for signing up. You get money for referring your friends, too. Plus, for anything you loved that you want more of, you can order straight from the website at a discount.

Once you take the quiz and customize your red and white preferences, Winc populates your cart with their suggestions. You have even more opportunities for customization here. You can remove bottles, increase quantities, or do more shopping before you check out.

After checking out, Winc ships fast. It usually only takes 3-4 business days to receive your box. When you do receive it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a dedication to beautiful packaging. Not only is your subscription custom, but you’ll feel like it was boxed up just for you. Cardboard boxes proudly boast the Winc logo while custom packing tape features the Winc name.

The marketing inside the box is cute. It promotes other programs and special discounts for members. The Winc welcome packet is one of the best welcome packets in the world of wine subscriptions. They put an insane amount of detail into making you feel special, educating you about wine, and giving you something interesting to read while you enjoy your selections.

A to Z guides, overviews of popular Winc wines, and the Winc mission are just some of the highlights.

Returning or canceling

Winc stands behind their wine and the way they select your bottles. If you don’t like any of the wine you receive, Winc will give you a complete refund. You don’t have to return the bottle. Their 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that you’ll love everything or you won’t pay.

If you decide you don’t like the club at all, you can cancel at any time. There are no obligations and you won’t be charged a penalty for leaving.

Wrapping up

Winc is one of my favorite wine subscription options because it provides one of the best values out there. Free shipping, four bottles at a time, an online portal for easy feedback, and custom selections make your entire experience worthwhile.

Comparison Chart

Here’s a brief visual to help you compare these two subscriptions.

  California Wine Club Winc
Subscription options 6 1
Shipping cost $15 Free
Shipping time 2 weeks 3-4 business days
Number of bottles 2 4
Welcome pamphlet Yes Yes
The literature on wine selections Paper Online
Online feedback portal No Yes
Personal wine consultant Yes No
Rewards and discounts No Yes
Cancel anytime Yes Yes
Support Email or call a personal consultant Support articles, Facebook, text, email, phone, online contact form
Makes wine No Yes

FAQs About California Wine Club and Winc

Which wine club is the best to join?

Winc is the best wine club for most people, simply because of the level of customization and the easy online portal. It’s a budget-friendly option that makes it easy to order, change your preferences, and get the wine you love quickly.
However, if you are looking for a more premium experience and want a dedicated personal consultant to guide you through your journey, California Wine Club may be better. You can feel good about supporting small family wineries with this one.

Are wine clubs worth it?

You always have to weigh the pros and cons of any wine club before subscribing. They’re not all worth it for every person. Factor in cost, number of bottles, shipping restrictions, and anything else that might be important to you.
If you love wine but hate going to the liquor store, wine clubs are a great way to get great wines shipped right to your door. They may not have the same variety as the liquor store, but you may find your new favorite.

What is the cheapest wine club?

Between Winc and California Wine Club, Winc is the more affordable. You get four bottles with Winc for roughly the same price as you get two with California Wine Club. Plus, Winc doesn’t charge shipping.
That’s not to say there aren’t even cheaper wine clubs out there than Winc. The Martha Stewart Wine Club is a great example of a cheap wine club, offering six bottles at a time for only slightly more than Winc. Martha also offers free shipping.
However, what you save in subscription cost you’ll pay for in wine quality. You don’t get the personalized selections or the dedication to customization with Martha Stewart as you do with the other options.

Does Winc make their own wine?

Winc was co-founded by an experienced sommelier. This enables the company to produce their own wines rather than source them from wineries. That means the ones you try are truly unique and you won’t find them anywhere else.
The wine selection is carefully curated so it meets high standards for quality. It also ensures that flavor profiles and descriptions are highly accurate so they can provide a level of customization you won’t find in other clubs.

My Recommendation

red wine glass

While the California Wine Club is great for supporting local wineries and getting an exclusive experience, the price adds up when you have to pay for shipping every month. The experience feels a bit stuffy and pretentious.

Overall, I think Winc is a better subscription for most people. It’s affordable and the level of customization is unlike most others. The online portal makes it fun and easy to sign up. Once you become a member, they make it easy to rate and review your selections so your shipments get better over time.

Recommended Reads:

Leave a Reply