At The Washington Post Wine Club, we feel the same way. Our motto is "compromise is for politics, not wine," and we live by this maxim day in and day out. From the quality of the wine we choose to the seamless delivery of the wine to your door and every step in between, we never compromise.
We only send you thought-provoking, conversation-starting wines that invite lingering over the table - ones with integrity and a sense of place, made by actual people on small estates. In other words, our wines are as individualistic and interesting as you.
Wine’s roots in America began to take hold some two hundred years ago as Thomas Jefferson toured the French countryside and its bountiful vineyards while serving as the United States Ambassador to France. He shared his newfound love for wine with his closest friends and acquaintances, including Benjamin Franklin, upon his return to the United States. It is only fitting that we honor our Founding Fathers for the important roles they played in introducing wine to America and fostering its growth.
Not only was Thomas Jefferson a Founding Father of the United States, but he may as well be honored as the Founding Father of American wine. As a connoisseur of fine wines, he dreamed of growing grapes at his mountaintop estate, Monticello, and was a vocal advocate of the virtues of wine. His cellar was one for the ages, containing top cuvées from France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, America and beyond. He also lobbied (successfully) for lower taxes on the importation of wine from Europe, opening the door for all citizens of the U.S. to imbibe. We tip our hats to our third president with the Jefferson Wine Club, a mix of red and white domestic and international favorites from established and up-and-coming wineries, giving you a taste of some of the most impressive wines in the world.
Inventor, educator, writer, ambassador, businessman, and linguist. Benjamin Franklin was many things, but the accomplishment that impresses us most is oenophile. While serving as the American Minister to France in the late 1770s, Franklin discovered a taste for French wine and cultivated that love for fine wine upon his return stateside. His personal cellar contained 1,000 bottles of wine at any given time, and he is even credited with founding a wine-drinking society in Philadelphia. It's safe to presume, based on Franklin's belief in the health benefits of wine, that he enjoyed a glass of red wine while waxing political with his fellow Founding Fathers. To that end, the Franklin Red Wine Club features some of the finest single varietal and red blends from the world' s best wine regions.
We search near and far until we've found wines on which we are willing to put our stamp of approval. Our expert team of wine buyers travels the world in search of the best wines from both established and up-and-coming wine regions. We attend the grandest wine fairs in Italy, France and Germany, among others. And hundreds of wineries in the U.S. visit our offices every year to present their latest and greatest with the hopes of having their wines selected for our clubs. In total, our wine buyers taste thousands of wines every year to narrow down our selection to only the top 1.3 percent. It's an arduous task, but someone has to do it!
Notwithstanding the foregoing, for all sales in New York, Boomtown Wine & Spirits will select the wines featured for any wine offering.
Our wine buying team is comprised of devoted wine lovers who are some of the most respected professionals in the industry. We recently sat down with them to divulge their innermost thoughts on The Washington Post Wine Club. Read their revealing exposés below.
Tim Marson, Senior Wine Buyer for The Washington Post Wine Club and a Master of Wine, says that if you’re looking to have a good conversation about a particular wine, then look no further than your own backyard. “It’s time to sit up and take notice” of Virginia wines. Barboursville, Pearmund Cellars, Veritas, to name a few, are in his opinion, worth talking about.
Marson, a wine industry veteran, takes an unapologetic approach to getting people to try a particular wine. “Stick a glass in front of them,” he says. It’s the misconceptions about wine that he’s constantly trying to break down; the fact that “people feel that they have to know anything about wine to be able to enjoy it,” Marson insists. “It’s just not the way to approach wine.”
When it comes to enjoying wines, Marson notes that the chance to discover delicious, unique bottles that have interesting stories is much more important than expert knowledge on the subject. One of the benefits of The Washington Post Wine Club is the “ability to discover some of these extraordinary wines from exciting regions around the world,” delivered straight to your home or office. “Hard-to-find wines, exclusive imports and unique recipe pairings that are great for entertaining” are all benefits of being a member of The Washington Post Wine Club. Maybe growing your knowledge of wine is not so far out of reach.
But what about the selection process? We put this question to Mr. Marson on a day when he was enjoying a glass of his club favorite, Domaine Habrard St. Joseph, which he describes in uniquely English fashion as “a brilliant benchmark Syrah.” “The [Washington Post Wine Club] selections are curated by a team of industry experts,” he explains. “We evaluate over 11,000 wines every year and evaluate them on a variety of criteria.” Those criteria include great value, unique origins as well as accessibility and intrigue. The Wine Club places a premium on the fact that all their wines come from actual vintners from around the world and are never produced purely for the sake of putting a new brand on a bottle. Underrated appellations from the Northern Rhône Valley in France or an up-and-coming label from Virginia are all part of the story at The Washington Post Wine Club.
Tim Marson is a Senior Wine Buyer for The Washington Post Wine Club and is also one of only roughly 300 Masters of Wine in the world, the highest accolade a wine professional can earn.
Martin Reyes, Wine Buyer for The Washington Post Wine Club, is ready to encourage drinkers to try obscure wines and is not afraid to defend them. Having been a wine buyer with The Washington Post Wine Club since 2011, he travels the world tasting and evaluating handcrafted wines from the world's greatest and up-and-coming wine growing regions.
When he's not evaluating hundreds of wines each month, he's trying to encourage people to get on board with him by "pushing [wine] on folks." "Are you really going to turn down wine?" he says in a 2014 interview. He encourages people to "try it. And, if you don't like it, do what I do, spit it out." Claiming that this practice is in fact not wasting wine, he goes on further to say that if one doesn't like it, then it can hardly be wasteful.
When questioned about his favorite wine in The Washington Post Wine Club, an unapologetic Reyes says that the 2012 Hüfinger Grüner Veltliner Zöbinger Kogelburg is a wine he "absolutely loves." Citing that when he's in need of a great wine for summer under $15, "I will stake my reputation as a wine expert on you liking that wine."
Wondering if he would stake that much on other closely held opinions, we put the question to him of why a wine lover should join The Washington Post Wine Club. Reyes indicates that every wine that is chosen to be in the Wine Club is sourced from passionate vintners and from specialty importers, as well as being directly imported by The Washington Post Wine Club themselves. "Every wine that's picked [for the Wine Club] has a lot of thought behind it," he says.
“From the vineyard to the buyer, it made its way, beating out dozens of other contenders,” says Martin. A wine that is put into The Washington Post Wine Club “has risen above the rest - in the region, the country, etc.”
It’s no coincidence that you’ll often find few selections from any one country, leaving members to explore benchmark wines from around the world.
“The wine is curated. There is a process of selection, and if the wine doesn’t deliver typicity, quality and great value for our members, it simply won’t make the cut.” Strong words from an expert in his field who has often dreamt of doing a blind tasting with his favorite president and wine lover, Thomas Jefferson. “[He] would love to hear how far his country has come in producing amazing wines.”
Martin Reyes is one of the staff wine buyers for The Washington Post Wine Club, a trained sommelier and currently in the process of becoming a Master of Wine.
From childhood, Jennifer Ingellis knew she was destined to work in the hospitality industry. “I was always ‘helping’ my parents host parties,” she explains. “From prepping the food and passing out appetizers, to greeting guests at the door. It’s what I loved to do.” It’s no wonder that this 2012 FOOD & WINE Magazine Sommelier of the Year ended up behind the very wines that are placed into The Washington Post Wine Club.
We had a chance to speak with Mrs. Ingellis after a recent wine tasting to find out more about what it’s like to curate wine collections for The Washington Post Wine Club. We found that her approach to selecting the right wines for a collection —amongst the thousands tasted every year for the Wine Club — starts with the occasion and then leads to the right wine. Jennifer explains, “It comes down to my philosophy of encouraging people to try new wines. I try to relate the wine to something they may have experienced before. Many times if you remind people of wines they have experience with, they are more open to trying something new.” Whether it’s selecting wines for a club shipment or for one of the specially-curated gifts, Jennifer Ingellis wants members to experience wines of all types that will help them expand on what they already enjoy.
We dug deeper into her philosophy about what an expert wine curator would serve at her own parties. “Sparkling wine or dry rosé,” says Jennifer. “Any excuse to have bubbles is good enough for me.” Whether it’s bringing a sparkling wine from an esoteric region of the world (Sparkling Riesling for instance) for her industry compatriots or a more traditional Champagne for her less adventurous friends, breaking out a “sparkling white” is always a good idea, according to her.
Describing why she feels The Washington Post Wine Club is so unique, Jennifer goes on to explain that, “it features delicious wines from around the world and wines from D.C.’s own backyard.” But what makes that so special to members is where she truly reveals what the Wine Club is all about. “You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy wine,” she says. “The Washington Post Wine Club features benchmark wines that anyone who simply enjoys wine would be excited to drink.” With a premium placed on the stories behind the individual winemakers when selecting wines, Virginia wines definitely don’t fall short. “The Virginia wines are great conversation starters, especially if you haven’t had the chance to try wines from your own backyard. Virginia wineries are starting to gain recognition for certain varietals.” Asked if it’s debate-worthy to question whether Northern Virginia has the right climate to grow world-class grapes, Ingellis adds, “They’re producing interesting grapes like Viognier and Négrette and doing a great job of it.”
Jennifer Ingellis is an Associate Wine Buyer and part of the wine tasting team at The Washington Post Wine Club.
What goes into the process of selecting a great wine for the members of The Washington Post Wine Club? “Select as good a wine as possible, explain why we like it and then recommend food pairings that will help show the wine at its best,” says Mark Bowery, confidently.
Mark Bowery, who is a celebrated sommelier and Wine Buyer for The Washington Post Wine Club, feels that if you’re going to go through the process of evaluating thousands of wines and selecting only a small percentage for the Wine Club, then it has to be worth talking about. “Take a Grüner Veltliner like Hofinger. It’s lip-smackingly delicious, a spectacular food wine and a great subject of conversation.” A conversation he’s always willing to have with anyone interested in exploring exciting and unique wines.
Mr. Bowery doesn’t hold back discussing wines he’s excited about, even when explaining the process in which he and his team evaluate wines for the Wine Club. “Each member of our tasting panel rates a large selection of wines on a scale of one to six,” he describes. “After that is when the passionate discussion begins. We try and reach a consensus on which [wines] are worthy of The Washington Post Wine Club.” Even as he describes this process, he stops himself to point out a bottle of Madroña Riesling from California’s Sierra Foothills that he’s exceptionally passionate about. Riesling and especially domestic Rieslings are particularly controversial. “This wine could win the hearts and minds of a lot of wine drinkers out there,” pointing out that while wine experts generally agree that Riesling is an interesting and complex white wine, much of the general wine drinking public doesn’t share that view.
Why would someone join The Washington Post Wine Club? What is in it for them? We found Mark’s response as impassioned as his thoughts on his evaluation process. “Rapidly expand your knowledge and appreciation of wine,” he insists. “Joining the Club is like going on an around-the-world adventure that is led by a team of experienced professionals who have already been there.” Seemingly, the only difference is that this team only takes you to the best and most interesting places.
We rounded off our discussion with Mark Bowery by asking him what initially drew him to the wine trade. “I was a kid with a freakishly good sense of smell,” he muses. “I had a passion early on for wine and spirits and never looked back,” adding that a stint in Napa in 1979 with many of wine’s modern heroes helped cement his love for the beverage. “Wine.” he finishes. “It’s not inordinately complex or even the exclusive domain of experts. Wine is, in fact, fermented grape juice that can, in moderation, bring joy and enrichment to the lives of billions of people. That’s what we do.”
Mark Bowery is a Wine Buyer for The Washington Post Wine Club and was the first sommelier of the famed Masa’s restaurant in San Francisco.
What do sundaes at the White House have to do with wine? Everything, when you put it into context for Mary Burnham, Wine Writer for The Washington Post Wine Club and member of its tasting team. “I had a lot of great experiences as a kid in Washington D.C.,” Mary says. “My father worked in the White House, and every once in a while I’d get to have lunch with him in the White House Mess. I’d always order a vanilla sundae.”
She reflects on how lucky she felt as a little girl as she restaurant-hops in Adams Morgan, a favorite destination of hers every time she’s back in the District. “Nowhere else in the U.S. can you find an incredible diversity of amazing ethnic cuisine in easy walking distance.” This early love of food developed into a passion for wine. A passion that helps her not only write about every wine in The Washington Post Wine Club but helps her assess which wines will make the cut for the club.
“For starters, we eliminate a vast swath of the wine world,” she explains. “No bulk juice, no anonymous, invented labels,” referring to the common practice by some winemakers of selling large amounts of unallocated wines to companies who place fantasy brand labels on them. “We only source from real people and rely on our network of personal relationships that have been built over the years.” That’s how The Washington Post Wine Club obtains wines to which most people would never get access. “We also look at the value. Is it as good or better than similarly priced wines? Then, is it food-friendly? We want wines that elevate the experience of dining, no matter what type of dining you’re talking about.”
Her passion for wine comes out when writing about wines for the club. “Is it balanced? Is it delicious? Is it typical of its region? Who makes it?” she asks. “These all make up the story of the wine.” Virginia wines seem to have some of the more debate-worthy stories these days. With a region that is not currently internationally well-known and is working on putting itself on the world wine stage, Mary has this to say, “Virginia wines are great conversation starters. I’d serve them blind alongside French wines made from the same grapes, then ask people which they prefer.” Whether it’s a great debate or just a fun tasting party, putting the Barboursville Cabernet Franc next to a Loire Valley Cabernet Franc is sure to stir some emotions.
Evaluating the wines in a Wine Club is one thing, but where does Ms. Burnham stand on bringing home the very wines she’s writing about and assessing? “The Raventos i Blanc L’Hereu has lately become my ‘house-pour’. It’s a fantastic sparkler,” she says. And, while not a big California Chardonnay drinker, she insists that the 2010 Dierberg Chardonnay from California’s cool Santa Maria Valley is incredibly silky and rich. “A beautiful fusion of California and Burgundy styles.”
Crafting beautiful tasting notes included in each Wine Club shipment? That would be the handiwork of Mary Burnham.
Mary Burnham is the Wine Writer for The Washington Post Wine Club and is the author of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 FOOD & WINE Wine Guide.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, for all sales in New York, Boomtown Wine & Spirits will select the wines featured for any wine offering.
Our Wine Club members cite "access to wines I wouldn't normally purchase" as the number one reason why they joined. The majority of our wines are not readily found on stores shelves, giving you exclusive access to the world of wine.
Experience even more outstanding examples of typicity and quality with our themed seasonal shipments, shipped annually. Packages include Explore Virginia, Grilling Collection and Holiday Celebration Sampler.
We know you’re going to love the wines in your club shipments and want to order more. That’s why we offer our members 10% off all Wine Shop purchases – perfect for stocking up on old favorites or discovering new ones.
Become the chef and entertainer you’ve always dreamed of becoming with recipes from The Washington Post archives. Serve up these delicious meals with our wines to enhance the flavors and bring out the best in both the wine and food.
We understand that asking you to make a long-term commitment is difficult. Things come up. That’s why we have a cancel-anytime, no-questions-asked policy. That’s how confident we are you’ll love our wines once you try them.
Whether you have a question about wine, wish to reschedule a delivery, or need assistance in choosing the perfect wine for your choosy mother-in-law, feel free to contact our knowledgeable customer service team at 855-263-8989.
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©2016 The Washington Post and ©2016 Global Wine Company, Inc, San Rafael, CA. The Washington Post, where local law allows, has chosen Global Wine Company and its panel of experts to select the wines and operate the clubs on our behalf. In other jurisdictions, premium local retailers have been selected to provide such services.The Washington Post Wine Club is operated independently of The Washington Post’s newsroom. State laws prohibits the offer of free goods in conjunction with the sale of alcoholic beverages. The cost of all items in an offer is included in the advertised price. All wine sales are made by a licensed retailer in compliance with state laws and the licensed retailer assures all involved that it fully complies with all states’ laws applicable to it. All credit card payments will be facilitated by Global Wine Company, Inc., located at 1401 Los Gamos Dr. #230, San Rafael, CA 94903. Due to state laws, wine can be purchased only by adults 21 years and older. See shipping policy for states served.