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Firstleaf vs California Wine Club: Which is the Best Wine Subscription Service?

Firstleaf vs California Wine Club: Which is the Best Wine Subscription Service?

Main Differences Between Firstleaf vs California Wine Club:

The main differences between Firstleaf vs California Wine Club are:

  • Firstleaf offers a quiz and wine rating, whereas California Wine Club surprises you with what they ship.
  • Firstleaf offers a length inventory of wine, whereas California Wine Club offers handcrafted, small vineyard wine.
  • Firstleaf is less transparent for payment options, whereas California Wine Club uses secure checkout.

Bottom Line Up Front: If you are somewhat particular about the kind of wine you like, stick to Firstleaf and their brilliant quiz here. Otherwise, if you just want to be genuinely surprised by rare artisanal selections, go with the more select California Wine Club here

Wine has long been associated with fine dining and exquisite food pairings, but more and more it’s also becoming linked to wine subscription services like Firstleaf and California Wine Club.

The problem? Not only is it hard to know how to select a wine club, but there are countless choices–making it all that more important to see how they fare compared.


It’s not surprising that wine clubs have become popular amongst Americans especially. In fact, the United States is the most prominent wine industry globally, with profits well exceeding thirty six billion dollars per year.

Direct to commercial sales, combined with e-commerce, are two of the biggest trends in the wind industry. With wine clubs, companies like Firstleaf and California Wine Club are able to accomplish what a traditional winery cannot: accessibility, convenience, and a wide selection at a customer’s fingertips.

There are, of course, downsides to wine clubs like Firstleaf and California Wine Club. The worst wine clubs do not deliver quality wine or maybe evasive when it comes to revealing information about how and where they source their wine from.

Even worse, if you do not carefully look into complaints, reviews, and policies, there are sometimes issues when it comes to cancellation and shipping.

The good news? There are also many great options out there for wine clubs–you just need to know what to look for when it comes to investigating wine clubs. Firstleaf and California Wine Club are two of the most popular options, but how well do they deliver–and compared, which is the better option?

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Firstleaf vs California Wine Club Compared: Which is the better service? 

wine toast

In this review, we’ll compare Firstleaf vs California Wine Club to see which one, compared provides a better overall service. We’ll keep in mind a slew of crucial factors, including wine quality and origin; customer service; customization, and other factors.

While both Firstleaf and California Wine Club enjoy name recognition as American wine subscription services, this article will provide all the information you need to make your decision with confidence.

Of course, you do need to keep in mind that a wine subscription service is not for everyone, nor will it necessarily save you money in the long run. What a wine club will do, however, is provide you the opportunity to try a wine you may never have had the chance to.

How does Firstleaf vs California Wine Club work?

Let’s start by taking a look at Firstleaf vs California Wine Club’s basic subscription models. While no one model is the absolute best for a wine subscription service, we do want to find an option that is intuitive and easy to navigate.

  • Firstleaf touts itself not only as a custom wine service but “America’s #1 Awarded Wine Club,” based upon that over ninety percent of their wines are ‘award-winning’. Customers begin by taking a quiz asking about preferences, are shipped an intro box a few days later, and then you have the option to rate wines. Based on that feedback, you’ll then be set to start receiving regular shipments.
  • California Wine Club has an immediately different marketing focus. Where Firstleaf touted its customer-based, adaptive and wide selection, California Wine Club instead emphasizes its commitment to supporting small wineries and supplying ‘handcrafted’ and ‘artisanal’ wines. They promise better taste and quality service compared with other wine clubs. Unlike with Firstleaf, you’ll begin not with a quiz but by selecting one of several subscription options that provide different types of wine at different price points and some internal customer reviews. From there the process is just as you’d expect: you make your payment and your first box will be delivered to you.

Verdict: Firstleaf may be easier for first time users, but both mission statements deserve further scrutiny.

If you’ve never ordered a wine club before, chances are you’ll find Firstleaf a little easier to navigate; it is also more friendly in terms of fairly novice wine drinkers.

Firstleaf offers more guidance for selecting, and a step by step process that takes you through everything. When it comes to company mission statements, both sound appealing on the surface, but both need further investigation yo see if claims can be backed up.

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How does Firstleaf compare to California Wine Club for shipping and payment policies? 

wine alcohol

Shipping and payment policies are essential, no matter the quality of the wine itself, In fact, shipping and refund policies are often areas where wine clubs could fall flat.

  • Firstleaf ships to all states that are eligible

Shipments can be made to a home or business, and someone twenty one or over must sign for the package. You can manage and track your order online; orders are shipped via FedEx Ground os USPS Ground and arrive within two to five business days.

You can email support and be refunded within thirty days for any individual bottle. Shipments returned or damaged on the shipment part are also eligible. They appear to accept major credit cards, but no information is readily available about secure checkout.

  • California Wine Club has similar policies

California Wine Club also ships to most states, though delivery time is notably more varied: you may receive a shipment in as little as two days or as many as three weeks. Complying with laws, you still need someone of legal drinking age to sign for and receive the package. You’ll receive a tracking number via email.

Returns are permitted through their Love It Guarantee policy, which permits customers to have any single wine bottle refunded, at any time, with a simple email. Credit cards are billed upon order, and build as you go or upon your specified frequency. Upon check out, there’s a statement that they use SSL, secure payments.

Verdict: Firstleaf is quicker, but the California Wine Club is more transparent. When it comes down to it, we’d like to be able to get more information about secure payment before signing up for an account with Firstleaf. Both Firsteaf and California Wine Club, on the surface, offer generous return and refund policies.

How do the subscription options and costs compare?

wine glass

There’s a good degree of distinction between Firstleaf and California Wine Club, which is immediately apparent during the initial selection process.

Firstleaf offers two options: a member subscription, or single orders via the store. The membership costs ninety dollars per shipment, which equates to fifteen dollars per bottle, regardless of the wine you select. You can also make your own pack, but it still must have six bottles, at fifteen dollars each. The store allows you to buy gifts and specialized sets.

California Wine Club offers monthly memberships at different price points. Unlike Firstleaf, which has one basic membership option and allows you to select or rate wines, with California Wine Club, you’ll be directed to one of five subscription levels:

  • Premier Series: Prices start at a little over forty dollars per two-bottle shipments. All wine comes with tasting notes, a guide, a VIP touring opportunity for a small winery, and access to a virtual wine consultant.
  • Signature Series: For a little over one hundred and thirty dollars, you’ll get 2-4 California wines selected highly rated, mostly red as well as discounts on future orders; comes with the same perks as the premier.
  • International Series: For seventy-one dollars and a two-bottle package, you’ll receive wine from France, Germany, Australia, Argentina, and/or South Africa, with the possibility of other undisclosed countries of origin; comes with the same perks as the premier.
  • Aged Cabernet Series: The Aged Cabernet Series costs two hundred and thirty dollars per two-bottle shipment, and features aged cabernet from Napa Valley; it comes with the same perks as the premier.
  • Pacific Northwest Series: The Pacific Northwest Series costs just under eighty dollars for a two-bottle shipment, with one red and one white handcrafted wine; it comes with the same perks as the premier.

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Verdict: Firstleaf is more affordable–in theory. This doesn’t mean an instant win for Firstleaf–we need to take into consideration the quality of the wine. It’s also important to note that a California Wine Club box comes with added perks, such as VIP tickets, wine guides and tasting notes.

Firstleaf averages fifteen dollars a bottle vs thirty-five to sixty-five dollars per bottle for California Wine Club Firstleaf pushes you to order ninety dollars worth of wine, while California Wine Club allows you to have a smaller order.

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How much choice do you have in selecting wine? 

wine and food

Why you’re signing up for a wine club will make a big difference for this category. Many prefer being able to select wine themselves, while others enjoy the surprise element. A nice middle ground is a service that combines some of both preferences.

  • Firstleaf allows the best of both when it comes to surprise and customization. You begin by taking a quiz which helps determine your taste preferences. Not only is the quiz brief and easy to navigate, but it suited even for someone not as knowledgeable about wine. From there, you get a trial box, and you’ll have the option to rate wines so your boxes will, in theory, more resemble your preferences. First Leaf even gives you the option to hand-select all wines yourself.
  • California Wine Club offers fewer options. You don’t take an introductory quiz, so it’s up to you to understand your preferences. Aside from the Aged Cabernet, though, you have very little said to what wine you’ll get. While it’s true that some options favor red over white, and one provides international wine, there isn’t much specificity when it comes to flavors of white characteristics.

Verdict: Firstleaf offers a better deal for customization, choice, and guidance. Unless you favor surprises above any choice, Firstleaf simply delivers on this element far more than California Wine Club. Firstleaf’s rating system, custom quiz, and option to select all your ow means you’re more likely to get wine to your taste preferences. The one downside, of course, is you may be less likely to be adventurous.

How does the quality of wine from Firstleaf compare with California Wine Club?

two wine glasses

Again, consumers opt for a wine club for different reasons. If price and service ad just a fun way to experience wine top your list, you may not be looking for the highest quality wine possible. But it is important, in terms of overall value and enjoyment, to understand what wine you’ll be getting. And for may, this might be the most important factor.

Firstleaf claims to source award-winning wine, and a customer-driven, expansive inventory. And in fact, you can peruse their wine catalog and see this is true – each wine has a list of specific wards, if applicable and a wealth of information. Their website provides tasting notes, body, acidity, sweetness, food pairings, a full description, region and winery profile for the wines listed.

  • While there are award-winning wines, you won’t find many aged or especially valuable wines.
  • You can filter by color (red, white, rose); grape (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling); and region (United States, Italy, France, New Zealand, Argentina, Portugal, South Africa, North Macedonia, Australia, Chile, and Spain)
  • An algorithm of customer ratings constantly updates which wines they stock, making it unlikely low rated wines will stay long and making Firstleaf very customer service driven

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California Wine Club has featured wineries from small producers. While there are no filters or easy way to search for a specific wine, you can peruse their featured wineries and examples of wines they’d shipped in the past.

  • Each winery has its own profile page. You do not know, and cannot hand select, exactly what wine you’ll get – though when you receive it, the wine will come with a profile and tasting notes, as well as food pairings.
  • This requires more investigation as to the quality of wine and awards; you’d have to go on the winery’s individuals websites and you don’t know which wine you’ll receive.
  • Compared with Firstleaf, you will find some more aged wine options and smaller-scale wineries

Verdict: Firstleaf offers more transparency. We can’t definitively say wine from California Wine Club is more or less valuable. Showcasing specific wineries is a great start, and many will appreciate supporting smaller vineyards. That mission aside, Firstleaf offers reasonably priced wine that also happens to hold relative acclaim and plenty of information for customers to understand exactly what they’re ordering. If you want aged wine, or wine from small vineyards, though California Wine Club fits the bill better than Firstleaf.

How do customers feel about Firstleaf vs California Wine Club?

Finally, let’s take a look at just how well Firstleaf vs California Wine Cub compares wen it comes to service.

Firstleaf unfortunately, falls very flat when it comes to ratings. Firstleaf is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, which may not be an immediate cause for concern, but the company also holds a failing rating based upon complaints. While you can find individual blogs showcasing individual experiences, there is a dearth of ratings from customers as a whole.

California Wine Club, on the other hand, fares much better. While California Wine Club is also not accredited with the Better Business Bureau, it does have an A-plus rating. Something that does give us pauses is that it’s still hard to find customer ratings, but the club has been praised through major outlets such as Forbes.

Final Verdict: California Wine Club or Firstleaf?

While imperfect, California Wine Club does not have the worrisome complaints. While individual experiences may be positive with Firstleaf, there are just a few more negative complaints.

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California Wine Club is a reasonable option if you want to support smaller wineries and don’t mind being a bit surprised, or are open to trying wines you might not have others.

Bottom Line Up Front: If you are somewhat particular about the kind of wine you like, stick to Firstleaf and their brilliant quiz here. Otherwise, if you just want to be genuinely surprised by rare artisanal selections, go with the more select California Wine Club here

Where to Buy: If California Wine Club sounds up until you alley, check out their options here and you can take the Firstleaf Quiz right here to get started.

FAQ’s About California Wine Club vs Firstleaf

What is Firstleaf?

What is California Wine Club? Both Firstleaf and California Wine Club are subscription services for wine lovers. As long as you live in an eligible state, wine is delivered to your door every month, and selections are made online. Think of a wine club as a Netflix for Wine. For the best wine clubs, you can typically cancel at any time and have a degree of autonomy when it comes to selecting preferences.

How much do wine clubs cost?

Wine clubs range in costs, and even for a single wine club, such as Firstleaf, you normally have several tiered subscription options, with a basic plan and plans that include additional services, wine types, or more wines in general. A general median cost per month is around forty to six dollars a month, with both cheaper and more expensive options.

What is the cheapest wine club?

Opting for the cheapest wine club isn’t always the best value. While keeping price in mind is certainly understandable, your best option is to select a wine club that delivers when it comes to customer service, wine quality, and customization. The cheapest wine clubs tend to start at around thirty dollars per month. Among the most affordable options are Vinebox; Gold Medal Wine Club; California Wine Club, and Cellars Wine Club–all under fifty dollars per month.

Which wine club is the best to join?

The best wine club for you to join will depend on personal preferences, budget and lifestyle. To that end, there is no one single wine club that we can declare the best. Some have mentioned popular clubs, such as Winc, California Wine Club, Bright Cellars, Vine Box, and others. But each one comes with its pros and cons.

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