A Brief History of Gold Medal Wine Club

Celbrating 25+ years

In 1990, the reality of a Wine of the Month Club was as far fetched as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. One winery was personalizing wine labels for special occasions, like weddings, and found themselves shipping their wines directly to consumers but that was about as close as we were to having a nationwide wine club. Two years later that would all change.

In 1992, Gold Medal Wine Club was born; the name sets the standards for the wines. Finding wineries with Gold Medal winning wines during the early years was a challenge and finding wine outside of California was nearly impossible. Nonetheless, the idea that “The Road to Great Wines Begins at Your Door” became a reality. In April, Gold Medal Wine Club’s inaugural shipment included two bottles (one red and one white) of award-winning wines from Hanna Winery, located in northern California’s Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. Back then, wines of this caliber were not easy to find even in San Francisco, let alone in Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Missouri or the other so-called, reciprocal states. The wine industry was quickly gaining traction and suddenly, fortunate wine enthusiasts in the dozen or so reciprocal states across the country had access to great wines produced in California.

Consumers quickly realized the wines from Gold Medal Wine Club were a far cry from the uninteresting, mass-produced wines typically found at their local liquor store. Give people access to what they want. What a concept!

Gold Medal Wine Club’s vision was, and still is, to offer wine club members a variety of ultra-premium, hard-to-find wines from California’s small, family owned wineries and those not easily found in stores. This vision has been fulfilled with each and every set of featured wines over the last 25 years. Since 1992, Gold Medal has introduced to their members over 500 different wineries and over a 1000 different wines in the Gold Wine Club alone.

Realizing that wine enthusiasts were thirsting for even better wines, the Platinum Wine Club was introduced to existing wine club members. This upper-level wine of the month club features strictly 90+ rated California wines with an occasional outstanding selection from Oregon or Washington. Nationally recognized wine review publications are continuously scoured to find the right wines to fit the criteria for this wine club. Over 1000 different wines have been featured in this popular monthly Wine Club since its inception.

Started in 1995, the Diamond Wine Club, became Gold Medal's third step in becoming the best Wine of the Month Club around. This progressive move took Gold Medal Wine Club to the upper echelon of wines. Only 93+ rated wines with small production, and impeccable credentials are considered for inclusion in this top-notch wine club. The Diamond Club wines are shipped on a quarterly basis and tops out at just 500 fortunate members. This level of quality was a first in the wine club industry and to this day no other wine club comes close to offering wines of this caliber. Memberships sold quickly and are still in high demand today.

Gold Medal Wine Club continued to secure their position as America’s leading independent Wine Club by developing the Wine Club Gift Program. Believing that customers should have the option to gift and receive the types of wines they enjoy, a comprehensive list of choices were introduced. This flexible program allows customers to choose between monthly, every-other or even quarterly shipments. Red-only, white only is perfectly fine. Length of membership spans from 1 to 12 shipments. Every gift ships complete with a free personalized gift card inside the box, free gift wrapping and even an optional, artist-commissioned wine country gift box is offered. With all of these options, Gold Medal Wine Club set the standards that other wine clubs only attempt to emulate. “Give the Gift everyone loves to open again and again” is an accurate and now familiar slogan copied by many other wine of the month clubs.

In 2004, Sideways (the Movie) made its debut and had a major impact on the wine industry. Merlot was out and Pinot Noir was in. Since the introduction in 2008, the Pinot Noir Wine Club quickly became a go-to Wine Club for existing members and new members alike with a love for Pinot. Initially, two different bottles of 90+ rated Pinot Noir were sent out every-other-month. Today wine club members can enjoy monthly Wine Club shipments that showcase world-class Pinot Noirs from famous winegrowing areas like, the Russian River Valley, and Sta. Rita Hills AVAs in California, Willamette Valley in Oregon, and even an import from France or New Zealand now and again.

In September of 2005, Gold Medal Wine Club expanded to direct importing of international wines. The newly formed, International Wine Club debuted with two red wines and one white wine from the 103 year old Rivetti Family Winery located in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Their Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis wines were a big hit with our wine club members. The exclusive, Taste the Adventure newsletter included in each shipment tells about the winery, the family owners, the winemaker and the winegrowing region. Another section explains how to read an International wine label. Also included are wine-speak translations, fun facts about the featured country and much more. To make our International Wine Club unique in the marketplace, the International Gourmet Adventure Package was created. This was the first box subscription of its kind at the time. The package included a CD featuring traditional Italian mandolin music, imported Pasta and Pasta Sauce from the Piedmont region, a Pasta Cookbook as well as Italian Roast Espresso Coffee and a pound of Artisan Italian Biscotti. The International Wine Club remains an extremely popular choice that ships quarterly and gives wine club members the opportunity to experience extraordinary wines, culinary delights and a bit of the culture of each featured country. All of the superb wine selections and wide variety of food items are exclusively sourced and imported by Gold Medal.

The PLUS! Bottle Program was introduced in May of 2006. The PLUS! Program adds one more bottle to regularly scheduled wine club deliveries and is currently available for Gold, Platinum and Diamond Wine Club members. It’s a great way to discover more outstanding, hard-to-find selections from the best small wineries. These highly-rated, special selections are offered only as an add-on to existing memberships due to very limited availability.

In 2011 the first Garagiste Wine Festival was held in Paso Robles, California. A small group of independent, artisan winemakers handcrafting small batches of wine joined together to introduce their wines to California. In 2014, Gold Medal Wine Club introduced the Garagiste Wine Club to our members and wine enthusiasts across the country. These unique wines are virtually impossible to find in the marketplace. If you love the thought of finding rare and fascinating wines before they are discovered, the Garagiste Wine of the Month Club is the perfect choice. Selections are mostly from California but occasionally from Oregon and Washington. Gold Medal Wine Club stands alone and ahead of the pack with this incredible wine club offering.

It’s hard to believe that 25 years has gone by since Gold Medal Wine Club shipped the very first selection of wines to their charter members. Amazingly, over 250 loyal, original members are still receiving their Gold Medal Wine of the Month Club shipments today. With over 2.5 million Wine Club shipments since 1992, Gold Medal can proudly say that they are The Best Wine Club on the Planet. Period.