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Wine please! The best wine clubs in Canada

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Wine please! The best wine clubs in Canada

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Are you enjoying drinking more wine these days? We are.

And we’re not alone. Wine consumption has gone through the roof lately.

Just the other night, we cracked open a fine bottle of Sardinian wine from one of the best wine clubs in Canada.

Wine tasting at home isn’t quite the same as wine tasting when traveling in wine country – say, wine tasting in Sonoma or checking out the Okanagan Valley wineries in British Columbia. But a nice glass of wine (or two) is also a very lovely thing to enjoy at home!

Best wine clubs in Canada

Wine clubs in Canada

Here’s where wine clubs can help.

A wine club is basically a service that delivers wine to you, perhaps monthly or quarterly. They’re also known as wine subscriptions and “wine of the month” clubs.

They make it possible for you to explore different wines from around the world at home, by introducing you to curated selections chosen by sommeliers, wine experts or perhaps even a “Master of Wine.”

There are gazillions of wine clubs in the U.S. Great ones!

But they don’t ship to Canada, or they have very high duties. (If you’re looking for U.S. wine clubs, see this Business Insider article and this Vogue article.)

We’ve tested several Canadian wine clubs and their wines to come up with the best Canadian wine subscriptions.

Prices shown below are in CAD.

The best wine clubs in Canada include the Opimian Club and Hemispheres Wine Guild.

What is a “Master of Wine”?

There are many sommeliers. But not many Masters of Wine.

Getting a Master of Wine is like winning an Olympic gold medal. It means you’re at the very top of the vino game. Only 396 wine experts in the world have earned this prestigious certification from the Institute of Masters of Wine in the U.K. since the first exams began in 1953.

It’s a slog to get.

First, you need lots of previous professional wine experience to even qualify. Then there’s at least 3 years of courses. And scads of essays to write, including a 6,000- to 10,000-word original research paper. (You’d definitely need a drink after that!)

We go into detail about the following Canadian wine clubs, so if you’re interested in a particular one, you can jump to it from the table of contents below.

1) Hemispheres Wine Guild

One of the best wine clubs in Canada, Hemispheres Wine Guild boasts a Master of Wine at its helm.

Based in Naramata, B.C., winemaker Marcus Ansems is the fifth Canadian Master of Wine (there are only 10 in Canada).

Ansems picks the wines that go out to the club’s 100 loyal members.

The wines are ones you can’t buy in Canada. And the focus is on boutique premium wines.

How it works:

As a member, you receive a shipment of wines 4 times a year.

Each shipment includes wines from a particular region. Perhaps Sardinia, Campania (Italy) or Alsace and the Loire Valley (France). The surprise region that members love is the Pacific Northwest.

There are different levels of membership, with the most popular being the “Taster” level, where you receive 48 bottles of wine a year from 4 different regions around the world.

Sample wines:

Remember that lovely Sardinian wine we mentioned earlier that we popped open? It came from Hemispheres Wine Guild.

A flagship white for Sardinia, “La Cala Vermentino Di Sardegna Alghero (Sella & Mosca estate)” was great as a pre-dinner drink on the deck (where we can sit, now that the weather is warmer).

Best Canadian wine clubs

We’re not wine connoisseurs or experts, so here are the abbreviated tasting notes that came with the wine: Hints of orange blossom, lemon and green apple. Medium-bodied. Finishing dry.

We were surprised the notes give it “just” a 3 ½ stars rating – it was so good.

One of their “5 stars” rated wines – a “2013 Rivera Cappellaccio Aglianico Riserva (Castel Del Monte)” – is described as “epic, intense, rich.” Sounds like it should be a treat!

Mind you, you might want to store this red for a few years in your wine fridge before getting into it.

See here for more samples of Hemispheres’ wine offerings.

Average price per bottle:

About $28 bottle (“Taster” membership)

If you go to the higher volume levels (Taster to Enthusiast, Connoisseur to Icon), the wine quality goes up but the price per bottle goes down – sweet!

Membership cost:

Taster Member: 4 premium cases = $1,320 year (or $1,650 year for red wines only)

Enthusiast Member: 8 premium cases = $2,4000 year

Connoisseur: 4 premium cases + 8 ultra-premium cases = $3,300 year

Icon: 4 premium cases + 4 ultra-premium cases + 4 iconic cases = $4,400 year

Each case contains 12 bottles.

More expensive wines are added to the mix for Connoisseur and Icon members (so you get even better wines for less).

You can pay monthly or in full for the year. See here for membership details.

Shipping:

Like all the Canadian wine clubs listed here, Hemispheres ships across Canada (except perhaps the Yukon and northern Canadian territories – can’t say).

Shipping is free for your 4 annual wine shipments.

Canada Post is used most frequently in spring and fall. But you can opt for shipping by temperature-controlled truck so you don’t have to worry about overheating or freezing the wine in summer and winter.

The wines come delivered in a large cardboard box with special egg-carton like packing inside to separate the bottles, each as carefully handled as a baby in a bassinet!

Shipment of wines from Hemispheres Wine Guild, one of the best Canadian wine clubs

Cancellation:

If you pay monthly, you must give 30 to 90 days’ notice of cancellation. So if you cancel in February, you’d have to pay up to March. This is because wines are ordered 3 to 4 months in advance.

If you pay yearly, your membership expires after 12 months. (The monthly membership allows you to cancel quicker.)

2) Opimian Wine Club de Vin

Founded in 1973, the non-profit Opimian Wine Club de Vin (formerly the Opimian Society) is probably the largest Canadian wine club – boasting a membership of more than 10,000 wine lovers from across the country. 

It’s the only club that operates in all of Canada, including the Yukon.

The Opimian Club de Vin is the only wine club in Canada with a full-time Master of Wine.

The Opimian Wine Club de Vin is also the only wine club in Canada with a full-time Master of Wine.

That’s Jane Masters.

She tastes over 3,000 wines a year (tough job!), and from these, she chooses 450 to 500 wines for the club to offer to its members.

The wines are exclusive to the Opimian club – you can’t find these wines by sashaying on down to your local government or private liquor store.

And they invariably come from small family-owned vineyards.

Sharing the joy of wine

The Opimian club hosts special wine gatherings for its members.

One fun wine tasting in Kitchener, Ontario (which drew 125 members) was held in a museum and led by Jane Masters. And at a champagne tasting event in Victoria, BC, you got to meet the wine maker from France and ask questions like: “What’s the proper way to open a bottle of champagne?”

How it works:

When you sign up, you automatically receive a case with 6 fine wines.

Then, as an Opimian member, you get 9 “Cellar Offerings” a year.

A “Cellar Offering” is a quality brochure setting out 50 or so wines that you can purchase, along with detailed descriptions and wine notes for each.

But, uniquely, you don’t have to buy any wines at all (see box further down).

Each Cellar Offering focuses on a particular region. The Cellar Offering for March, 2020, for example, showcased wines from Italy and Chablis (France).

You can check out the Cellar Offerings on the Opimian’s website, but most members like to have real printed copies mailed to them.

Bonus

As a member, you also receive the latest issue of the Opimian’s Vinoetcetera magazine with each Cellar Offering.

The April 2020 issue, for example, included an article on whether wines are vegetarian-friendly – surprisingly, not necessarily!

There’s also a 10th special “Cellar Offering” in October, which is a web-only offering.

Most wines come in cases of 6 bottles. So you can’t just buy one bottle of a particular wine; if you want that wine, you have to order a minimum of 6 bottles.

Sample wines:

How about a serious and meaty “2015 Cinciano Chianti Classico”?

Made from hand-harvested Sangiovese grapes from 44-year-old vines, this bottle ($45) looks tempting. But the notes say it could benefit from more time in the bottle, so it’s probably best to store and save it for later.

Wines from the Opimian Wine Club de Vin, one of the best wine clubs in Canada

We did, however, pop open a “2015 Alquez De Sommos Garnacha (Grenache)” from Spain.

Also coming from old vines (60 years on average), this rich jammy wine ($25.83) sure upped the flavors of our simple spaghetti Bolognese dinner at home!

See more Opimian wines in past Cellar Offerings.

Average price per bottle:

Varies from $15 to $120

The sweet spot is $20 to $30 a bottle – most wines are in this price range.

Membership cost:

The annual membership is $69 plus tax. For new members, there’s an additional registration fee of $40 (a total of $109 plus tax).

(You can also sign up for surprise subscription cases, which include a mix of wines all picked by Jane Masters.)

No minimum purchase

As a member, you don’t have to buy any wines.

Chances are you’ll want to though. Most members say they buy 75% of the wines they drink through the Opimian Club.

Shipping:

There are 10 shipments a year available (9 regular Cellar Offerings plus 1 web-only Cellar Offering). The wines you order are normally shipped to your closest government liquor store for you to pick up there.

Cancellation:

As there’s no minimum purchase requirement, you’re only on the hook for a yearly fee of $69 plus tax. If you don’t want to continue your membership, you can easily cancel.

3) Wine Collective

Another of Canada’s large wine clubs (established in 2009), the Wine Collective focuses on “professionally selected, hard-to-find wines” from around the world.

It’s a monthly “wine of the month” club.

When you sign up, you also get online access to descriptions for each wine shipped, which includes information about where the wine was made, tasting notes and food pairing suggestions.

How it works:

You choose from 5 different packages. Depending on the package, you receive 2, 4 or 6 bottles of wine a month.

Sample wines:

In the past, wines have included a juicy rose – “Pasion de Bobal Rose” (Valencia, Spain) – perfect for summer!

More recently, the February, 2020, wine selections included a berry-delicious “Rocca di Montemassi Le Focaie Sangiovese” (Tuscany, Italy) and “La Lisse Soie d’Ivoire,” a Chenin Blanc from Haute Vallee de L’Aude, France.

Average price per bottle:

$25 to $50 a bottle

Membership cost:

Affordable: 2 bottles = $57.24 month

Most Popular: 4 bottles = $94.24 month

Discerning: 2 bottles = $94.24 month

Best Value: 6 bottles = $135.74 month

Best Wines: 4 bottles = $155.74 month

Shipping:

The $15 shipping cost is included in the monthly package price.

Your wine is shipped by FedEx if you live in Alberta, and via Canada Post for all other provinces.

As an alternative, if you live in one of the major Canadian cities, you can choose ATS Healthcare for delivery in a temperature-controlled truck.

If you live in Calgary, you also have the option of picking up your shipments at their Highfield by Wine Collective store in Southeast Calgary (and save the $15 shipping fee).

Cancellation:

Your monthly membership automatically renews each month. But you can cancel at any time (and there’s no cancellation fee).

4) Wine Club

Keen on discovering Canadian wines? Like wines from the excellent First Nation Nk’Mip Cellars at Spirit Ridge?

Then the Wine Club is for you. It features exclusive and limited release Canadian wines from coast to coast.

Wines are selected by a panel of wine experts headed by Tony Aspler, wine columnist for the Toronto Star for 21 years and author of 16 wine books.

Wines from the Wine Club, Canada

How it works:

You get wines from participating wineries sent directly to you each month, along with tasting notes, wine reviews and food pairing suggestions.

Prefer reds? No problem. Customize your package to include red wines only.

Or if you’re a fan of whites, you can specify “just whites” too.

Sample wines:

The Okanagan Valley’s Gray Monk Estate Winery was featured in March, 2020.

In February, 2020, the wines came from Two Sisters Vineyards from Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This vineyard was awarded “Best Performing Small Winery of the Year” in 2018 by the National Wine Awards of Canada.

Wines from Two Sisters Vineyards, chosen by the Wine Club, one of the best "wine of the month clubs" in Canada.

See previous wine packages for more examples.

Average price per bottle:

About $35 a bottle

Membership cost:

Wine Enthusiast: 2 “premier” bottles a month = $69 month

Wine Expert: 3 “exclusive and outstanding” bottles = $99 month

Wine Master: 6 “award-winning” bottles = $197 month

Shipping:

Shipping to you is free.

Cancellation:

The club prides itself on excellent customer service – you can pause or cancel your subscription anytime you wish.

5) Amazing Clubs

Founded in 2003, Amazing Clubs is a subscription club service with different clubs like a chocolate club and a coffee club, each offering monthly products.

And who knew – there are even popcorn, jerky and pickle clubs!

Then, of course, there’s the best club – the “wine” club.

The Amazing Club’s Wine Club features “premium hard-to-find” wines from award-winning, family-owned and boutique wineries in Germany, South Africa, Napa Valley, France, Australia and elsewhere around the world.

How it works:

Each month, you get 2 full-sized bottles of wine. When choosing your membership, you can select just reds, just whites or a bottle of each a month.

Memberships are available for 3, 6 or 12 months. There’s also a Wine-of-the-Season Club which delivers quarterly.

Sample wines:

For November, 2019, there were 2 red wines and 2 white wines.

The reds were “Camillo de Lellis Biferno” (Molise, Italy) and “Punti Ferrer Malbec” (Cachapoal Valley, Chile).

We’re partial to anything from Provence. So we were happy to see the whites included a “Chateau Roubine White” (Cotes de Provence, France), along with “Punti Ferrer Chardonnay” (Cachapoal Valley, Chile).

See here more examples of previous selections.

Average price per bottle:

About $32 a bottle

Membership cost:

3 Month Club: 2 bottles a month = $65.95 month

6 Month Club: 2 bottles a month = $64.95 month

12 Month Club: 2 bottles a month = $63.95 month

Seasonal Club: $65.95 month (1 delivery every 3 months for a year)

Shipping:

Shipping across Canada is free.

Cancellation:

When you sign up for a membership – ranging from 3 to 12 months – your membership ends after the 3-month or 6-month period (or whatever you signed up for).

If you choose an “open-ended” membership which keeps on going, you’ll keep on getting charged unless you ask the club to stop.

6) Hazelton’s

We confess we don’t have personal experience with this club, but Hazelton’s is another Canadian-based luxury gift basket delivery business (like Amazing Clubs). And they also have a “wine of the month club” to discover new labels.

Wines are sourced by “professional wine agents” and include “unique and rare” bottles.

Each shipment comes with a food pairing guide too, giving suggestions on the best nibbles to go with your wine.

How it works:

You choose which wine subscription you want from 12 different packages, ranging from a “mystery” package to old world picks to a dessert wine club.

Then, each month, you receive from 2 to 6 bottles of wine, depending on the package you choose.

You can sign up for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.

Sample wines:

Several of the wines offered – like the Australian “Yellow Tail Shiraz” and “Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc” (New Zealand) are ones you may be able to buy in your local liquor store.

Average price per bottle:

A mystery. We couldn’t figure this out!

Membership cost:

The monthly subscription price ranges from $89.99 for old world wines to $169.99 for dessert wines.

Shipping:

Each month’s offerings are shipped on the first Monday of the month. A minimum purchase of $100 is needed to qualify for free shipment on that purchase.

7) Wineries: Clubs and online sales

Many Canadian wineries also offer online sales or have their own wine clubs which you can subscribe to.

Black Hills:

We’re partial to Black Hills Estate Winery in B.C., for example. It has its own Black Hills Wine Club.

Black Hills Wine Club

You can sign up for just half a case (6 bottles), delivered 3 times a year ($823.20), or a full case, again shipped 3 times a year ($1,646.40).

There’s also a “Red Case” only subscription with 18 bottles of red wine for $958.20.

Additional perks include 50% off at signature winery events, a VIP tasting once a year at Black Hills and a members-only opportunity to book a stay at Black Hills’ 4-bedroom lodge right in its Osoyoos vineyard.

Burrowing Owl:

Burrowing Owl is another B.C. winery we like. It makes some fine award-winning Merlots; their Meritage (a Bordeaux-style blend) is also excellent.

You can shop online for 2, 4, 6 or 12 bottles, which will be shipped to you by courier.

Your favorite winery?

So if you love a particular winery, check to see if they’ll ship wine directly to you.

Cheers!

Experience more food and wine deliciousness!

Read our posts on:

Indian food | From butter chicken to Roghan Josh, you’ll drool over these 20 popular Indian dishes.

Wine tasting in South Africa | There are more than 185 great wineries in Stellenbosch. We hit many of them!

Los Cabos | In Cabo, do yourself a favor and eat at the beautiful farm-to-table Flora Farms restaurant.


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Photo credits: 8, 11, 12, 17 and 18 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 5 and 6 Hemispheres Wine Guild | 13 to 16 and 19 Opimian Wine Club de Vin | 23 to 25 and 29 Wine Club | 26 to 28 Gray Monk | 34 Amazing Clubs | 38 Black Hills | 39 Burrowing Owl


We received some complimentary wines so we could test out the wine quality and shipping services of some of these wine clubs. But as always, all views are our own.


Are you tempted? Which club or wine subscription in Canada would you like?


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the owners and founders of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, luxury hotel reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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David Gilbert

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

You guys missed Gargoyle Wine Club! They're the best!

Janice and George

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Hi David, We did miss them! Just Googled Gargoyle Wine Club. We'll check them out for inclusion in a future update of this post :-). Thanks for alerting us to their existence :-). Best...

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