Top 3 Wine Clubs in Napa/Sonoma – Best Picks By Millennials

budbreaklizThe 40 Millennial students in WineBiz Class 305W at SSU were asked to analyze wine clubs in the Napa/Sonoma area and to select their top three favorites.  Criteria were based on best practices in wine clubs and included the following:


1)     Number of different club levels – at least 2 choices is preferable

2)     Price ranges for each level – a variety of ranges is preferable from low to high

3)     Shipping frequency – every 2 to 3 months is better, because lowers cost or discounted shipping

4)     Club level by varietal preference e,g. red wine, white, sparkling, etc.

5)     % discount for additional purchases

6)     Number of benefits for being a club member, e.g. discounts, events, personal concierge, etc

7)     Types of special events – the more unique and interesting, the better…

8)     Anniversary gifts for staying in club a year or more

9)     Anything else special or unique about the club

We were provided a list of 30 wineries by the SSU Wine Business Program.  The 30 wineries had been nominated by the founders of the program – of which there are more than 200.  Therefore, the 30 wineries were nominated by their peers as having excellent wine clubs.

In order to analyze the 30 wine clubs, the 40 students in the class were divided into teams and each team was asked to research 3 to 4 wine clubs and complete an evaluation form using the criteria above.  Each team reviewed the results and selected a winning wine club to send to the sweepstakes round.


We then put the top winery from each team on the board — according to criteria — so we had 8 wine clubs in the sweepstakes round.  One student from each team presented the wine club components, and then the whole class was asked to vote on their top 3 preferences.  This resulted in the following awards:


1st Place Wine Club – Mumm’s (


2nd Place Wine Club = Benziger (


3rd Place Wine Club = tie with Rodney Strong ( and St. Supery ( both receiving equal votes


The Millennial students appeared to like the wineries that had multiple levels with a range of pricing from inexpensive to expensive.  For example Mumm’s basic level is only $45 for 3 bottles of wine every 2 months.  Another important criterion was the type of events offered.  The more creative the event, the more votes it received.  For example, Mumm has a lobster tasting where they pour whole cooked lobsters on a long table and everyone gets to dive in and drink with sparkling wine.  St. Supery lets club members have first chance at a private box at a Giant’s game, etc.


Bus 305W would like to congratulate this year’s winners of the Top 3 Wine Clubs of Napa/Sonoma.


Merlot Tenderness with Twomey

twomey-merlot1(By Guest Author: Matt Lapides, SSU Wine Club President) This week the SSU Wine Club was in for a real treat. Twomey Cellers presented their 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir and a three vintage Merlot vertical of 2003, 2004, and 2005. 

This was the first time the club experienced a vertical tasting. We started with the 2003 and it really represented how a great bottle of wine improves with age.  Next was the 2004 and you could already see how the fruit characteristics started to taste brighter and more intense.  The 2005 was their current release and definitely was the most intense with bright fruit and lush tannins. This Merlot would pair nicely with a good steak.  

We had over 40 students in attendance for the event who voted on two favorite wines.  The favorite of the group with 25 votes was the 2003 Merlot.  I personally have to agree with this. The next favorite with 18 votes was the inaugural release of their 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir with jam and strawberry characteristics.

SSU Wine Club Tastes JAQK Cellars

(By Guest Author: Matt Lapides, SSU Wine Club President) ThisYellow Mustard by Liz T. week the SSU Wine Club was hosted by JAQK Cellars. JAQK is a brand new wine line launched last October and they are hoping to open a tasting room and lounge within the next five years.  They spell it J-A-Q-K because it stands for Jack, Ace, Queen, and King.  Their bottles were not only pieces of art, but they looked like they came out of a deck of cards.  The meeting was co-hosted by Joel Templin, the founder/owner, and Craig MacLean their master winemaker. Everyone had the opportunity to ask questions about the production of the wine and what it takes to take on an adventure of launching your own wine brand!


We used the wine score sheets provided by Dr. Liz Thach and everyone scored the wines very well. We got to try two whites and two reds. The first white wine was the California Sauvignon Blanc called Charmed, the second white wine was the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay called Pearl Handel. The first red wine was the California Merlot called Bone Dance, and the second red wine was the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon called The High Roller.


Since we have moved the meeting to Thursday, we had much better attendance! We were able to pour for 42 students this week! When we took the votes the two favorites were the Charmed Sauvignon Blanc and the High Roller Cabernet Sauvignon. The High Roller was the clear favorite raking at 31 votes.  For more information on the SSU Wine Club, see 


*****2006 High Roller Cabernet Sauvignon, JAQK Cellarsjaqk-cellars1 ($70)

Black cherry and milk chocolate coat your mouth as the wine glides smoothly in.  Then you realize how rich and concentrated it is, with long-lasting tannins and finish.  No wonder – it’s made from 100% Napa Valley grapes.  Available at


**** 2007 Charmed Sauvignon Blanc, JAQK Cellars ($23)jaqk2

A fruity California Sauvignon Blanc made from Lake County grapes.  Lovely grapefruit and fruit cocktail aromas with a crisp and delicious freshness.  Great with seafood.  Available at: