Garagiste is a term which describes up-and-coming winemakers who toil away creating artisanal wines in their, well not usually, garages. If you're someone who wants to be up on the latest and greatest future stars of California winemaking, try the mostly red wine selection of Garagiste wines from the Gold Medal Wine Club.
We look forward to discovering new wineries from all over California. We know we're getting very good wine at below-retail prices and helping small family businesses grow.
Like other Gold Medal Wine Club series, we'd really like to see more information about the winemaking and viticulture in the educational materials.
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We've been reviewing Gold Medal wine club for more than five years. Without a moment's hesitation we can say that they have the most consistently excellent two bottle wine club out there. They have an extraordinary expectation of wowing their customers—and their customers' lucky gift recipients.
The Garagiste Series by Gold Medal is one of their premium clubs (they have the Platinum and ultra-premium Diamond Series, too). While Gold Medal typically only works with award-winning wines, their Garagiste Series is designed to help exceptional small-production wineries share their labor of love—the wine.
Being a member of a Gold Medal Wine Club is like being a member of every winery wine club in California. Gold Medal wine club members get very similar pricing to the winery's own wine club members (sometimes better). Of course you do miss out on those fun wine-club pick-up parties, but then again, you get the wine shipped right to your door and don't have to lug it home!
But what about the wine? Isn't it all about the wine?
This shipment includes the Revolver 2011 "The Fury" Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley (retail price $50) and Archium 2012 Dissident Rhone Blend from Santa Ynez Valley's Stoplman Vineyard (retail price $34).
Both wines were terrific, but they both needed a lot of decanting (or some aging) to be delightful. We opened Dissident and decanted it for 2 hours before rebottling it and bringing it to dinner with us. It was the perfect accompaniment to our meal, and it was fun comparing it to Stolpman's own production from the same vineyard.
One of our favorite things about the Gold Medal wine club is how they really push hard on quality, but also on rewarding their loyal club members. Find a wine you love in this shipment? You can reorder two or more bottles at further discounted prices. If you're a four-bottle member you're rewarded with better discounts. And of course with either membership, the more you buy the more you save.
At WineClubReviews.net we take an objective approach to our star ratings system. Our written reviews are very much subjective, based on our 5+ years of wine club review experience and our own ideas about what good wine and good value mean. The star ratings are based on 11 attributes that we feel define what a wine club should be. Here is how Garagiste Series Wine Club stacks up on these traits.
We've been drinking Gold Medal wine on a regular basis for five years now. If you're looking for a taste of smaller-production, family-owned wines from California, this is a terrific choice. They specialize in wineries you probably haven't heard of and turn that into deals that leave similar quality wines from the same regions looking steeply priced. The Garagiste Series really highlights the latest in boutique winery production, pushing the limits and testing new styles.
This is an area where Gold Medal shines. Your regular club shipments are up to 20% below winery retail and they reward you for buying more. Get a 4-bottle shipment instead of 2 and save another 10%. Pre-pay and buy 12 shipments, you'll save another 5%.
In six years of working with Gold Medal we have never had a single customer complaint. That's amazing to us. Our usual Internet sleuthing failed to turn up any customer complaints. Kudos to them!
Gold Medal relies on a team of knowledgable wine professionals to choose their wines. At this price range, there aren't any other wine clubs focused on award-winning (hence Gold Medal) or highly-rated wines by professional critics. This adds an extra level of curation to their club which can give you peace of mind.
The Garagiste Series Wine Club is relatively unique. It's the only wine club we know of that only includes wines from tiny wineries. By definition, a Garagiste winery has an annual production of less than 1,000 cases and since they almost all make more than one wine, whatever you get is rare and you get to be special :)
We look at three areas when evaluating the discount opportunities offered by a wine club. Is there an introductory offer to sweeten the deal? Are there discounts available for buying more of wines you loved in your shipments? Are there special discounts only available to members?
Gold Medal does not regularly offer an introductory offer, though during peak holidays like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Christmas you'll find free gifts with purchase like gourmet truffles (chocoalte) and wine accessories.
Gold Medal offers generous discounts on reorders, while supplies last—buy 2-5 bottles more and pay the regular price, buy 6-11 bottles and save up to 10%, buy 12-23 bottles and save up to 12%, buy 24 or more bottles and save up to 15%. Four-bottle members save more on reorders.
Lastly, members-only special deals are limited. There are occasionally members-only sales. Since their wines are already very competitively priced, we don't mind that there aren't more offers coming from them.
Note: This rating is our objective analysis of Gold Medal’s satisfaction guarantee—not our assessment of whether or not you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with their wines.
For Gold Medal, this is the weakest aspect of their wine club program and it's why they don't have a 5-star rating from us. They say "Satisfaction Guaranteed" on their website, but what they really mean is that they believe you'll love what they ship, not that they'll replace anything you don't like as most other clubs of this caliber promise.
Their Return Policy
If a shipment is damaged in transit we will replace the product at no additional charge. If the wine is corked from the winery, we will replace the bottle at no charge. On the rare occasion members receive the wrong product, a discount is offered, or the shipment can be returned at no-charge to the member.
What They Say About Refunds on Wine Purchases
Due to the nature of our products, refunds occur within 14 days after bottles are returned to our facility unopened. We do not pay for shipping of returned products, or refund payments if we are unable to restock the wine back into our inventory for any reason.
That said, we'd be genuinely surprised and concerned if you recived a stinker from Gold Medal.
Gold Medal is a more old-fashioned company. If you need to hold your service for a vacation or want to cancel your membership you'll need to call and speak to someone during regular business hours. You can handle reorders yourself online, as well as see a record of the wines you've received and when you received them.
A personalized wine club used to mean you picked the color of your wine and how often you received your two-bottle selection. For Gold Medal, it still does. An additional personalization is upgrading to four bottles per shipment. If you're giving a gift, you choose anywhere from 1-12 months.
The Garagiste Series comes with a one-page brief on each wine included in the box. They discuss at length the winery and winemakers (they're the reason the series exists) and then a short paragraph covering all the essentials about the wine itself.
This is a super wine gift for the more adventurous wine lover, or any California-loving oenophile.
At WineClubReviews.net we take an objective approach to our star ratings system. Our written reviews are very much subjective, based on our 9+ years of wine club review experience and our own ideas about what good wine and good value mean. The star ratings are based on 11 attributes that we feel define what a wine club should be. Here is how Firstleaf Wine Club stacks up on these traits.
Garagiste Series Wine Club