WOW stands for Woman-Owned Wineries, which is the foundational credo of Amy Bess Cook’s Sonoma-centric wine club. When you consider that only 10 percent of the lead winemakers in the thousands of California wineries are women, the absolute necessity of WOW’s rallying call sinks in. On the site you’ll find an invaluable directory of female-owned wineries and winemakers in the United States, plus details of the subscription service. You’ll also find an informative blog that spotlights the work of these female vintners and delves into the layered process of harvesting and producing a bottle of wine. Better yet, one dollar from every sale of WOW’s June shipment benefits the ACLU. Image courtesy of Kelly Puleio.
Disclaimer: Le Cru is pricey. It’s pricey because it’s a European-producer-based subscription service. To be specific, smaller European producers who don’t make the volume or perhaps have the resources to export to the States (making wine is expensive). A curated case of six bottles from say, Catalonia or Piedmont starts at $155, and shipping is free. If this sounds interesting, visit Le Cru’s excellent website, which has details on the various vintners it supports, along with approachable videos explaining the particulars of the regions it buys from.
Farm, forage, ferment is the credo farmer and biodynamic winemaker Krista Scruggs lives by. Scruggs ferments grapes for wine and apples for cider with no nasties (herbicides, synthetic pesticides, or other additives) in Vermont. Sometimes Scruggs goes rogue and coferments the grapes and apples for a wine-meets-cider hybrid that you absolutely must taste. Join Scruggs’s Counterspell Club to receive the latest Zafa wines and other members-only perks throughout the year direct to your doorstep.
Maison Noir Wines
The man behind Maison Noir Wines also happens to be a former sommelier at both Per Se and The French Laundry. André Hueston Mack specializes in bottling and blending the finest grapes grown in small Oregon wineries. Mack takes a contemporary approach to an age-old industry with bottles wrapped in graffiti-inspired labels and wines with names like Bottoms Up, Knock on Wood, and our personal favorite, P-Oui Pinot Noir. Order online for multi-state delivery—and go for a mixed case to get a real taste of what Maison Noir is about.
Helen’s lore goes something like this: Sommelier Helen Johannesen started with a tiny, small-producer-forward wine store tucked in the back of Fairfax staple Jon & Vinny’s. Popularity exploded, a wine club was born, and a second location opened in Brentwood. If you’re not already a member of Helen’s Wine Club, now is a great time to join. We look forward to our delivery of limited production wines with handy tasting cards to help expand our palate every month. Otherwise, hop online; browse Johannesen’s smartly organized virtual store; edit your choices by price, country, wine type, style, or region; and get the corkscrew ready.
Rock Juice is the closest you can get (tied with Peoples in NYC) to a digital personal sommelier. San Francisco–based Melissa Gisler Modanlou is a former restaurateur, advanced sommelier, and a serious tastemaker when it comes to natural wine. Modanlou’s dedication to shipping and serving (and sipping) wines free from coloring agents, stabilizers, and flavor manipulators caught our attention. Rock Juice mainly stocks bottles from vintners and importers the team knows personally and vets for quality. Sign up to receive a box of three, six, or twelve bottles monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly. Each delivery comes with detailed tasting notes and information on the producers. (We like to hang on to these paper gems and note the producers in regions we’re hoping to visit, so we can see the magic for ourselves.) To sign up with Rock Juice is to expand your palate and try rarely exported and never-seen-at-the-supermarket bottles from the cozy comfort of home base.
Getting into wine has a tick-the-box quality. Region: tick. Varietal: tick. Terroir: tick. But having someone walk you through those ticks makes delving into oenophilia doable. SommSelect offers three monthly clubs defined by theme (this one is the most affordable at $99 monthly and perfect for novices), SommSelect favorites, and guided blind tasting. For those who want to go deep, the sommelier concierge option tailors cases to your specific palate and budget (this is more suited to those who know their way around a wine cave). Lastly, Ian Cauble of Netflix’s Somm fame, is the maestro behind every bottle selection.
Any delivery of booze will be with you, ready to pour, in sixty minutes or less. Given that we seem to spend half our lives waiting in socially distant lines these days, Drizly’s expedient promise is an alluring one. Several of our colleagues swear by their (very) regular deliveries of wine from local-to-them stores in NYC and LA. Hop on the app and lose an hour scrolling through the bulging lists of your favorite neighborhood spots. It almost feels like going out. Almost.
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