Holiday Wine Gift Guide

Signature Series Wine Club Review

Signature Series Wine Club

Wine Club Overview & Details

Wine Club Rating:

This wine club is...

Summary

This wine subscription focuses on high-end, small-production wines from small family wineries in California. It is perfect to give as a gift or to join yourself.

What I Like

The Signature Series is one of our favorite premium wine clubs. We never get tired of exploring the different styles and terroirs of high-end California wine.

Improvements

Not every bottle is right in our wheelhouse, but we don’t hold that against them.

Benefits

  • Only artisan winemakers in California
  • Great gift presentation and deals
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Wines not available in stores

Drawbacks

  • Shipping is extra
  • Not every bottle tastes like $70

Wine Club Ships to

AK AZ CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS LA ME MD MA MN MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC TN TX VT VA WA WV WI WY

Don't see your state? The California Wine Club does not ship there. Browse wine clubs by state.

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FYI: I find great wine deals so you don’t have to. To keep me on the hunt, I earn a commission when you buy wine based on my recommendations.

Coupons & Promo Codes

Deal Save 50% on membership
Save 50% on your first shipment. Until Dec 31. Use code WCRHALF at checkout.

Deal Save 10% on gifts
Save 10% on wine club gifts. Until Jan 15. Use code WOW at checkout.

Signature Series Wine Club Review

Signature Series Review

What is the Signature Series from The California Wine Club?

Founded in 1990, The California Wine Club is a California company which sells artisanal wines from small family wineries. The Signature Series is their premium, mostly-red wine option. It is available as an ongoing subscription or as a gift membership (you choose the length of the gift). Signature Series, like all of their subscriptions, comes with an industry-leading satisfaction guarantee and a host of other membership benefits.

Ways to Customize Your Signature Series Membership

The Signature Series wine club can be customized in these ways:

  • Number of bottles: When you join for yourself, you can choose a two-bottle, three-bottle, or four-bottle subscription. When you give a Signature Series gift, it’s a two-bottle subscription.
  • Delivery frequency: This membership can be delivered monthly, every other month, or quarterly.

How much does Signature Series cost?

The price of the Signature Series depends on how you’ve configured it. If you are giving a gift, each two-bottle shipment will cost $152, plus $21 for shipping and handling.

If you are joining for yourself, your price varies with each shipment, and depends on how many bottles you’ve signed up for. Two-bottle shipments average $136. Three-bottle shipments average $175 and four-bottle shipments average $275. In all three cases, your shipping and handling is $21.

Gift-wrapped wine bottles

Ways to save on Signature Series

Depending on your preferences, there are two great ways to save on a Signature Series membership for yourself.

Option 1: send yourself a “gift” when you place your order. Discounts start at three months (around 13%) and go up to approximately 23% for twelve months.

Option 2: The California Wine Club kindly offers my readers a generous discount. Save 50% on the wine portion of your first shipment with code WCRHALF at checkout (ongoing subscriptions only, not for gifts). Shipping and handling will still be $21.

Current Signature Series Deals

Deal Save 50% on membership
Save 50% on your first shipment. Until Dec 31. Use code WCRHALF at checkout.

Deal Save 10% on gifts
Save 10% on wine club gifts. Until Jan 15. Use code WOW at checkout.

Signature Series membership benefits

Any time you become a subscriber to a company’s services, there should be a benefit to you for loyalty. Sometimes that benefit is discounted members-only pricing and sometimes that benefit is extra perks. Here are the membership benefits for joining or gifting Signature Series.

My Signature Series
Benefits Ratings

Satisfaction Guarantee
Customer Service
Wine Education
Convenience
Signature Series Unboxing

Unboxing Signature Series shipment

Uncorked Magazine, Signature Series pages

Uncorked Signature Series example

Signature Series Wine Review

My Signature Series
Wine Ratings

Quality of Wine
Price of Wine
Wine Curation

I’ve received several shipments of wine for review from the Signature Series at The California Wine Club since 2015.

The California Wine Club specializes in small-batch wines from family wineries producing less than 15,000 cases per year. Small production wines typically offer the most character as the grapes are farmed for optimal taste, not optimal yield. Learn more about why these small producers are so important.

This club, like all of the premium subscriptions at The California Wine Club, is not value-focused. Membership at The California Wine Club comes with a lot of benefits, including the core benefit of sampling wines from small wineries you’re unlikely to discover on your own.

Here is a selection of wines I’ve received from the Signature Series over the years.

An early Signature Series shipment

Volker Eisele and mystery wine I received in 2015

A Signature Series shipment from 2016

Daou and Soquel wines I received in 2016

A Signature Series shipment from 2019

Dutton-Goldfield and Pope Valley Winery wines I received in 2019

Another Signature Series shipment from 2022

Barden and COHO wines I received in 2022

Barden 2020 Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara Pinot Noir Front Label with Glass Barden 2020 Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara Pinot Noir Back Label with Glass

Winery: Margerum Wine Company
Wine: Barden 2020 Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara Pinot Noir
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Region: Sta. Rita Hills, Central Coast, California
Cases Produced: 216
Winery retail price: $68

Let me start by saying that Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills is among my very favorite wines. This Barden wine includes fruit from four organically-farmed vineyards — La Encantada (64%), Sanford & Benedict (26%), Radian (7%), and Peake Ranch (1%). La Encantada and Radian are (to date) my favorite Pinot vineyards — I’ve tried the wines made from different blocks at these vineyards from Dragonette Cellars, Ken Brown Wines, Sanford Winery, The Hilt, and Spear Winery.

Despite my rather extensive experience in this narrow band of the wine world, this wine surprised me — which is what keeps us wine geeks engaged in general. Because each winery who buys grapes from a vineyard typically has a lease for a particular block within that vineyard, each wine produced can taste quite different. The blocks contributing to Barden were spicier and featured earthier flavors like mushroom and dried herbs than I’ve tried, where red fruit was prominent. Additionally, each winemaker has his or her own style, and Doug Margerum tends to like to use more oak than other examples of these vineyards that I’ve tried.

All the differences aside, some things were overwhelmingly clear — this is a beautifully made Pinot Noir from some of the best grapes available in Sta. Rita Hills.

Headwaters 2017 Napa Valley Red Wine Front Label with Glass Headwaters 2017 Napa Valley Red Wine Back Label with Glass

Winery: COHO Wines
Wine: Headwaters 2017 Napa Valley Red Wine
Blend: 81% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot
Region: Napa Valley, California
Cases Produced: 1,164
Winery retail price: $56

I appreciate that The California Wine Club sometimes sends out “back vintages” in their Signature Series clubs. In this case, the well-integrated tannins from this five year old wine are a great contrast with the young Barden (this shipment’s other selection). This wine showcases why, if you can, you should try to lay your red wines down for a few years before consuming them. It was likely more puckery and astringent when it was younger, but has matured into a food-friendly red wine.

I tend to like Napa’s Merlot-driven selections. Napa wineries don’t charge as much for Merlot (thanks to the movie Sideways maligning the poor but important grape), but the wineries that produce it expect the same high quality standards that make Napa Cab so coveted (because it’s in a lot of their high-priced Cabernet Sauvignon). Also, I tend to like Merlot because it’s a fruit-forward red wine; this one featured cherries and blackberries.

I received a two-bottle sample shipment of the Signature Series. If I had signed up for the four-bottle version, here is a bit about the additional wines I would have received:

2020 Zotovich Family Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

Winery: Deovlet Wines
Wine: 2020 Zotovich Family Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
Blend: 100% Chardonnay
Region: Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California
Cases Produced: 108
Winery retail price: $50

There’s much to unpack about this wine (aside from the fact that I’m bummed this wasn’t one of the wines I received). As noted earlier, I spend a lot of time (and money) in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA as the wines produced in this area work for me — they’re fruit forward, complex, and there are many artisans at work in the region, both in the vineyards and in the cellars.

This description typifies what you can expect from the region in general: “For this wine, fruit was hand harvested then pressed to tank for settling 24 hours. Upon onset of fermentation, the lot was transferred to barrel to finish alcoholic fermentation. Secondary fermentation progressed until stylistic decisions were made to arrest fermentation to preserve some malic acid. The wine aged 15 months on fine lees in 100% French oak, 20% new barrique, plus a combination of neutral 400L and 228L.”

And the tasting notes from the winery: “Exotic tropical fruit and citrus tones with feijoa (pineapple guava), green mango, finger lime zest, and hints of blanched almond and vanilla bean lifting the fragrant bouquet. The palate is electric and taught, while maintaining a stunning balance of richness and intensity, juicy and saline. The acidity brings persistent length and tenacity for a minutes-long finish.”

The “exotic tropical fruit” is what happens when you mature Chardonnay “on the lees*,” especially for 15 months. The use of mostly neutral French oak prevents the Chardonnay from getting too oaky. That fermentation was stopped to “preserve some malic acid” was a great choice — the acidity makes the wine lively and food-friendly.

* When you ferment wine, the yeast have a byproduct as they gobble up sugar and turn it into alcohol. That byproduct is called “lees.” Some winemakers choose to leave it in while the wine matures because it adds complexity and, depending on the grape, brings out certain specific flavors in the finished product. The French call this “sur lies.” I have a soft spot for wines made this way.

Lastly, the Zotovich vineyards are well-respected in Sta. Rita Hills and a great vineyard to know if you’re learning about the area. Their organically-farmed land produces fruit used by many acclaimed wineries like Dragonette Cellars, Ken Brown Wines, Tyler Winery, Crawford Family Wines, Rideau Vineyards, and more. They also grow Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, and Grenache.

2019 Home Ranch, Sonoma Valley Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon

Winery: Sojourn Cellars
Wine: 2019 Home Ranch, Sonoma Valley Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon
Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Sonoma Valley, California
Cases Produced: 650
Winery retail price: $60

This Cabernet Sauvignon is predominantly made of the 337 clone — hey wine geeks, you might want to read this fascinating dissertation on 337 and other Cabernet clones — one of the most popular in Napa because it reliably produces that “typical” Cabernet flavor popular in America (less herbal, more red fruit and plush).

Tasting notes from the winery: “Home Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon explodes with blueberry fruit flavors and silky texture. The signature blue fruit aromas shine through with notes of mocha and cassis. The 2019 vintage offers exceptional structure, with fine grain tannins and a long finish.”

Night hand-harvesting at Sojourn

Hand-harvesting grapes at night. Source: Sojourn Cellars

The California Wine Club makes a point of highlighting the tightly-spaced rows of grapevines in this vineyard. Aside from helping increase the yield per acre for the vineyard, tight spacing also means the vines are hand-harvested (picture below shows the team at work at night when the temperature is lowest and the grapes sustain the least harvest damage). Sojourn Cellars also points out the berries are hand-sorted before fermentation begins with native yeasts. These are all practices associated with the highest quality wines.

How to save money on these wines

If you like the sound of this club, but don’t necessarily want to spend that much per bottle, I’ve got great news for you. The California Wine Club also offers a Reserve Reds Case Club where you can get twelve bottles per shipment for $780 plus $21 shipping and handling. These are all the same high-quality wines you’d expect from Signature Series but you pay around $20 less per bottle.

Here’s how the math works out:

Shipment price Price with shipping Bottle price Bottle price with shipping
Signature Series $152 $173 $76 $86.50
Reserve Reds Case Club $780 $801 $65 $66.75

There are some important considerations to upgrading your shipments this way:

Join the Reserve Reds Case Club and save.

(Purchasing note: you’ll be taken to the Case Club page. Reserve Reds is a selection under Wine Options before you add it to your cart.)

How does the Signature Series compare to similar wine subscriptions?

All of the subscription options at The California Wine Club are curated. This means they are not customized to your palate (a personalized subscription) but instead all of their members receive a customized selection from the same pool of staff-picked wines each month.

Is Signature Series a good gift?

Yes! All of The California Wine Club memberships are among my most highly recommended gifts. Whether you’re on a budget or you want to splurge, you can be assured your gift recipient will love what you buy them.

Gift-wrapped Signature Series wine with Gift+

Here are my top reasons to recommend The California Wine Club above all other clubs for gifts:

Signature Series Gift-wrapped Bottles in Box

Gift-wrapped bottles in first shipment

Gift+ Packaging

Gift+ send-ahead gift