They are affectionately known as “Moodies”.
This wine-themed social group, called Mood Wine, meets up quarterly to enjoy and discuss the wines they have just purchased, to sample tasty wine pairing dishes, and to join in fun conversation.
A couple of years ago, Patrick Bartlett, a WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) graduate chef and wine educator, started Mood Wine with his partner, photographer/graphic artist Jake Stanford, in the Palm Springs area.
Their goal was to connect wine lovers to fine wines, and vine lovers to each other. Bartlett is also a seasoned winery management consultant, wine event planner, and social media specialist.
“The idea was to make it a social wine club and not just another box of bottles,” says Bartlett. “The first 45-60 minutes are for socializing and enjoying tasty nibbles and reception wine.”
At Mood Wine, there is no membership fee, but the Moodies agree to buy the “club wine package” of three bottles, four times a year. The selection of boutique and artisanal wine is California, West Coast and international, and, discounted at least 20 percent.
According to Bartlett, ‘The “Red Wine’ club typically cost around $100 four times per year. The ‘White Wine’ club cost around $75 four times per year. Some members belong to both clubs because they enjoy the wines selected.
The group is comprised of singles, couples and growing.
“We have more than 60 people from all walks of life and the networking opportunities for those in business are great,” says Bartlett. “And by the way—there is no shipping charge when picking up the wine at the event.”
The club generally meets at “the Loft” in Palms Springs but other venues — such as local restaurants — can vary to add to the experience.
A typical gathering starts with Bartlett leading them through a tasting of each of the current three club wines paired with a gourmet bite that he has prepared as well. He often conducts fun culinary discussions enlightening the group to wine culture, geography, and travel.
Activities and services seem to be evolving.
“We’ve launched a new program via Mood Wine – Wine Wedding Registry,” he says. “It’s super simple. All you do is contact us, we set-up a link for your invited guests to shop, and they in turn click on the link and shop in increments of $25. Then after the wedding the couple meets shops for wine from our extensive wine catalog via our many distributors.”
Wine Clubs Growing
A wine club membership can also provide access to small-production “boutique” wineries, for connoisseurs who want specialty wines not widely available at retail, and wine newbies who want selections that will help them explore and refine their tastes.
Some wine clubs are established by wineries to primarily assist in selling wine and providing discounts to their loyal clients. The Tulip Hill Winery runs the Tulip Mania Wine Club, a boutique winery that produces close to 20 different wines and offers tastes in its tasting room located at The River at Rancho Mirage. Membership includes receiving four bottles of wine shipped four times a year at a 20 percent discount. Members are invited to the tasting room for complementary tastings, wine release parties, and exclusive winery events.
Other wine clubs use casual meetings to offer wine. The Palm Springs Public Library Wine Book Club is more of a discussion group celebrating books and wine. This group meets at Azul Tapas Lounge on the last Wednesday of each month (unless otherwise noted). Attendees must be 21 years of age. Wine and other food items are available for a nominal fee. Neither wine tastings nor purchases are required to attend the club, which is free and open to the public.