Discovery Wine Club Review
Wine Club Overview & Details
Wine Club Rating:
This wine club is...
Sommeliers choose the best wines available that are typically hard to find. Surprisingly affordable, these selections are then further curated into a wine club. Exclusive video tasting notes round out the quarterly deliveries.
What I Like
I frequently see highly-rated and special wines pass through the WineAccess inventory. I know they’re picking quality wine that is always interesting, whether it represents the tried-and-true or the bold new efforts of pedigreed winemakers and upstarts.
There are some amazing white, rosé, and sparkling wines out there and they’re sometimes even harder to find than the reds. We’d love to see a wine club option that doesn’t include red wine. We’d also like to see a gift membership option with prepaid subscriptions.
- Eclectic selection
- Impressive value
- Sommelier-favorite wineries
- Video tasting notes and producer backstory for every wine
- Not customizable
- No gift option
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Discovery Wine Club Review
What is Wine Access?
WineAccess is an online wine store where the inventory is curated by a team of sommeliers and wine industry professionals. You can get a sense of how they think of wine by how they organize the site. Categories listed include:
- Rare Allocations: “Attainable only at the winery or top restaurants” like Williams Selyem Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Dragonette Cellars Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir (one of our household’s personal favorite wines), and Arnot-Roberts Vare Vineyard Ribolla Gialla.
- The Icons: “Legendary bottles from producers who define the art of wine” like Penfolds Grange, Silver Oak, Shafer, Kosta Browne, Château de Beaucastel, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, Ornellaia, and Château Mouton Rothschild.
- Michelin Star Favorites: “The bottles somms can’t resist” like Favia, Billecart-Salmon, Longoria, Massican, Dalla Valle Vineyards, and Bollinger.
- Top Values: “Special occasion-worthy bottles at everyday prices” and interesting selection of wine all under $30.
- Limited Time Offers: “Preorders available for 72 hours, or until they sell out.” It’s essentially a flash sale where certain wines are brought in for a quick promotion.
- Also: Last Chance (less than a case remaining) and Member Favorites
They have two quarterly wine clubs — this six-bottle (Discovery Club) and a two-bottle (Connoisseurs Club). Both are priced at $150, including shipping. This price reflects a discount from retail (typically in the 25-35% range). A membership includes access to exclusive video about each wine, highlighting the story behind it, and 10% off all purchases at WineAccess.com. Shipments are delivered in March, June, September, and December.
Wine Access Discovery Club Wine Review
My Wine Access Wine Ratings
|Quality of Wine|
|Price of Wine|
As we evaluated the wine we received, we couldn’t help but consider the Wine Access team. Helmed by Vanessa Conlin, a WSET Diploma holder and Master of Wine, an impressive roster of wine professionals curates their wine selection: Sur Lucero, a Master Sommelier who worked at The French Laundry, Meadowood, and Daniel Boulud; and Eduardo Dingler, an Advanced Sommelier candidate.
A team like this is about as well-informed as one can be when it comes to what a wine should taste like and what it should cost. They also know a great opportunity when it arises, and perhaps more importantly, bring their members along for the ride.
The first shipment we received was about comparing wines of the same variety, paired up as one Old World and one New World. We received these wines from their Discovery Mixed Club.
New World Sauvignon Blanc
An excellent example of the austere style of Sauvignon Blanc characterized by Napa Valley’s esteemed wineries. Aged 5 months in stainless steel, this single-vineyard 2019 Clos du Val Estate Sauvignon Blanc features a peppy acidity and a touch of lemon. Retail price: $30, Club price: $25.
Old World Sauvignon Blanc
In France, wines are named after the regions they’re grown in, not the grapes in the bottle. White wines from Sancerre, in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, are made with Sauvingon Blanc. This 2018 Le Tournebride sample is popular among sommeliers, is aromatic and floral on the nose, and tastes of citrus and crushed rocks. Retail price: ~$30, Club price: $25.
New World Pinot Noir
Curiously, this New Zealand Pinot Noir from Central Otago is produced by a winery based in Oregon (another great region for Pinot Noir). To us, regular imbibers of big, fruity Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, this single-vineyard Pinot from Sineann was a delightful mix of the structure associated with the Burgundian style but the fruit-forward nature of new world wine. Very little available in the US, not even at the winery. Retail price: $30, Club price: $25.
Old World Pinot Noir
Breaking with tradition, Jean-Claude Boisset helps the American audience out here by including Pinot Noir on the label. That’s where the rule-breaking stops. This is a classic red Burgundy, dubbed Les Ursulines, fermented with native yeasts, and produced in wooden tanks (instead of the more common stainless steel). True to old world wines, this Pinot was a subtle array of dark red fruit and approachable tannins. Retail price: ~$25 (if you can find it), Club price: $25.
New World Bordeaux-Style Blend
When we sat down to drink this wine with dinner, we were impressed. I try to read the tasting notes and backstory AFTER I drink the wine, so as not to bias my opinion. When I circled back on that task, I was, well, not surprised I liked it so much. Aside from being a great vintage in California, it was made by Phillipe Melka! Retail price: $50*, Club price: $25
*This was a “Library” selection and is available in a only few places at this price point. New vintages of this wine typically cost $80-90.
Old World — Actual Bordeaux
Unmistakably French, this nice Bordeaux exhibited all of the characteristics one expects from a Francs Côtes de Bordeaux — Merlot-driven, subtle fruit, chalky, and cedar notes. Around here our palates and preferences lean heavily New World, but it’s great to keep trying wines from Bordeaux because you never know what you’ll love (James Suckling gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up with 93 points). Retail price: $22, Club price: $25.
In our second shipment, the wines received weren't themed, but demonstrated the value proposition Wine Access makes: get hard-to-find and little-known gems delivered.
Benevolent Neglect Massa Organic Estate Chardonnay (Carmel Valley, California)
This winery changed hands in the last several years and the wine has significantly improved. One of the few organic wineries in Carmel Valley, its wines appear at Michelin-star restaurants and has won praise from the likes of Jancis Robinson. We paired it with smoked salmon rolls (so decadent) and a green salad.
Michel Lynch Reserve Bordeaux Blanc (Graves)
A passion project for the owner of the legendary Château Lynch-Bages, it is rarely imported to the US. This classic blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon was super food-friendly and a delight to sip on after dinner was over (we paired it with lobster ravioli). This wine offered complexity of ripe fruit flavors, bright acidity, and body.
Lang and Reed Cabernet Franc (North Coast, California)
Until I drank this, I believed Cabernet Franc can be thin and acidic, it can be bold and spicy, and its usually one or the other. This Lang and Reed sample challenged my expectations about what a Cab Franc can be. We paired it with my spicy turkey chili and I was super impressed with how well it stood up to the bold, hearty dish without diminishing its finesse.
La Miraja Ruchè di Castagnole (Monferrato DOCG, Piedmont, Italy)
There is so much wine made by small producers in Italy it boggles the mind. It takes a hard-working team like Wine Access to bring wine from these special wineries to the US market. This indigenous grape variety (Ruchè) is considered part of the local heritage. Wine Access describes this wine as "intensely perfumed and delectably spicey, with enough grip to make a grown man blush [Nebbiolo fans will be seduced immediately]."
Domaine Gérard Brisson Les Charmes La Louve (Morgon, Beaujolais)
Beaujolais is typically associated with the young, fresh wines of Beaujolais Nouveau, however they have a longstanding reputation built on a more traditional production of red wine, the best of which is called Cru Beaujolais. Made from Gamay (like Pinot Noir), and is produced in a manner a natural wine lover would adore — whole-cluster fermentation with indigenous yeasts (carbonic maceration). We paired it with earthy mushroom ravioli.
Ferraton Samorëns (Côtes-du-Rhône)
This Grenache-dominant red wine also includes 15% Syrah and 5% Cinsault for balance and body. Ferraton worked with famed Michel Chapoutier to bring their vineyards to Biodynamic and certified organic status. This terroir-driven value earned a score of 90-92 points from Jeb Dunnuck.
Back in 2018, when the Wine Access wine club was offered as a four-bottle shipment, we received this selection of wines from them.
2012 Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir
We’re quite familiar with the wineries that produce wine from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, including the namesake winery. Long considered a premium vineyard for Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, it’s among our favorites for the region and we’re always excited to see one on a menu when we’re out wine tasting in the area. This wine met all expectations on taste, quality, and price for a Bien Nacido Pinot Noir. Retail price: $60.
2014 Domaine Marius Delarche, “Ile de Vergelesses” Rouge
This unfiltered Côte de Beaune Premier Cru is 100% Pinot Noir and uncertified organic. We enjoyed this Burgundy for its prominent berry flavors and violet aromas. It was fun to compare it to the Bien Nacido Pinot Noir in the same shipment. Having never heard of Vergelesses before receiving this shipment, we now see it all over the place among sommelier blogs and high-end retail wine stores’ social media. Who knew? Wine Access did… Retail price: $46
2014 Dolin Chardonnay Bien Nacido
Also from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, this Dolin Chardonnay was a buttery but elegant selection. Rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Retail price: $39.
NV Diebolt-Vallois Blanc de Blancs Champagne à Cramant
Made from 100% Chardonnay, this region-defining producer is known for delivering great Champagne value. At club prices it’s a steal. Retail price: $48.
My Wine Access
Discovery Club Benefits Ratings
Curation. Leveraging an immense knowledge of wine (and industry relationships), Wine Access seeks out small-production gems from desirable wine regions, wineries, and winemakers. They tend to pick wines that are well-rated by top-tier wine critics and from sought-after wineries that fly under the radar.
Customer Service. We’ve seen mostly good customer service reviews at review sites like TrustPilot.com. The most common complaints are shipping and delivery issues, but getting wine delivered to your home is always a little bit challenging because it requires an adult signature. We saw issues with non club orders taking months to arrive. Their website says that if you order “pre-arrival” wines, they can take up to 3 months to arrive (probably because they’re coming directly from the winery overseas). We haven’t seen any delivery complaints for regular wine club shipments. They offer phone and email support Monday through Friday to help you with any questions.
Wine Education For each wine they ship, Wine Access produces a video which includes the story of the wine and a guided tasting. They also include a high-quality wine card full of useful information for each wine in the form of the backstory — either of the wine or how and why you were able to get your hands on it. These sheets include wine bottle hang tags for your cellar which helpfully note when to drink, how long to decant (if at all), and provide a flavor profile summary. Encouraging you to increase your own wine knowledge, the back of each wine card includes room for you to take notes for later.
Satisfaction Guarantee. One of the biggest reasons to be a wine club member is the Satisfaction Guarantee. The last thing any wine club wants to see is someone cancel their membership because they didn’t like a wine. Wine Access doesn’t publish a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” however they confirmed, "If you don't like a bottle, for any reason, we'll credit you that bottle. This applies to wine club as well individual purchases."
Convenience. Wine Access lets you take care of most account edits, including changing your delivery date, online. Shipments come via UPS, so sign up for UPS MyChoice in order to keep tabs on your deliveries.
Another important aspect of convenience is when they send which emails. As a member you'll receive a shipment reminder email a week before orders are processed and your card is charged. When the order has an expected delivery date, you'll get another email. You'll get one more email when the shipment gets picked up by the delivery service.
Personalization. This is not a very personalizable wine club — you can choose mixed red and white wine or all red wine.
Discount opportunities. Wine Access wines are often priced below retail, but wine club members save an additional 10% on their wine store purchases outside of regular wine club deliveries. Also all orders of $120+ or 6+ bottles ship free.
Who Should Join the Wine Access Discovery Wine Club?
This wine club is among a small set of wine subscriptions which demonstrate why paying $25 a bottle (instead of less than $15) makes such a huge difference in the quality of what you’re drinking.
We think this wine club is perfect for:
- Curious/adventurous wine drinkers who want to learn more about the wines that folks in the wine industry love
- Value-seeking wine drinkers who are looking to upgrade their wine selection without worrying about overpaying for wine
- Anyone who typically spends $20-40 per bottle and wants a super easy way to try new wines
Is the Discovery Wine Club a good gift?
Yes! All of the Wine Access memberships are now available as gifts — among the best wine club gifts on the market. Whether they want to get into wine or want to find affordable wines they'll love, the Discovery Club makes a great gift.
One of those weird, behind-the-scenes aspects of wine clubs is that the shipment prices for the better wine clubs typically vary. The companies don’t want to be beholden to a specific price and would rather curate the right shipment. This makes gift-giving complicated because you’re prepaying for a number of shipments, even when the company hasn’t priced out some of those future shipments.
To deal with this, Wine Access has, unsurprisingly, enacted something unique and honorable in their wine club gift program. As the gift-giver, you pay the maximum expected price range, but at the end of the gift membership, the giftee will receive a gift card for the remaining balance (the difference between the maximum possible price and the actual price a member would have paid). Every dollar you spend on your gift goes to the recipient (especially since shipping is included).
For the Discovery Club, you can give the following gift subscriptions, delivered every three months:
- Two shipments for $300
- Four shipments for $600
- Six shipments for $900
- Eight shipments for $1200
Additionally, you can choose the date your gift recipient receives notice (via email) of their incoming gift. This date can be selected up to twelve weeks ahead of time (in case you’re proactively gift shopping).
This detail is especially important because the gift recipient’s membership doesn’t start until they receive the gift notice email AND sign up for a Wine Access account to redeem the subscription. The gift recipient has six months to establish that account and claim the gift.