Written by: Tim Edison

Updated on: January 26, 2022

Uncorked Ventures Wine Club Review

Wine Turtle Club W

Uncorked Ventures is a very specific wine club for a very specific kind of wine drinker or collector.  The club is all about west coast wines, specifically those that are unknown, high end, small vineyards - basically wines that come with some status.  The club bills itself as not only a wine club, but also a provider of excellent wine education to those who view wine as a classic endeavor.  Wines are highly rated or would be highly rated were they better known.  They develop relationships with boutique vineyards guaranteeing that members are able to access wines they wouldn't normally be able to acquire without visiting the vineyard.  This is especially attractive to wine lovers who live outside of west coast wine country.

Uncorked Ventures offers three levels of membership with prices range from about $25-105 bottle and can be received monthly, every other month, or quarterly.  They are definitely not ashamed to be wine snobs but aren't pretentious.  This club is definitely for those with a bigger budget who want to impress guests with their collection.

Is Uncorked Ventures right for you?  Is it the perfect gift for the wine lover in your life?  We'll look at the club at a glance and then go in depth to give you the best possible picture of this club and how it may, or may not, meet your needs as a consumer.  All of our wine club reviews follow the same format to help you get the best sense of each club.

Detailed Review of Uncorked Ventures

Uncorked Ventures Review


Price

Quality

Support

Educational Value

We liked

  • These wines are definitely great for conversation and some are well known, highly rated wines that are sought after.
  • The educational aspect is unparalleled, the only way it might be better is if you could drink the wines with a sommelier.
  • It's nice to support smaller vineyards and to get access to wines you couldn't normally buy.
  • Leave the decisions to someone else and just get your wine.
  • There are no hidden fees.

We didn't like

  • The site does not include their cancellation policy - buyer beware!
  • How about an all white option?
  • The site is missing information we'd like to see: the cancellation policy, the credentials of the "experts" selecting the wines, who is running the company.  If we're going to spend this much on a club we want a better sense of the organization and neither man seems to be involved in the club nor to have any background in wine.  Most clubs list the credentials of their selection panels.

Summary:  Uncorked Ventures definitely appeals to a specific niche - those who are already experienced in wine and are looking to procure impressive, quality bottles.  That said, this is probably not the best club for beginners - wine is an acquired taste and it's better to have a say in what you're tasting before branching out.  Also, ratings are arbitrary and even more arbitrary?  Saying a wine "would be highly rated".  According to whom?  The club is one that might be worth trying for those who want access to hard to get bottles but for the basic or even intermediate wine lover there are better options.  And while it may not matter to everyone, we're not sure how we feel about spending this much on a membership that is to a club that doesn't tell us much about the WHO behind it.  Both men listed as running it are no longer employed by the club but there is no information about who is.  There is also no evidence that either of these experts has any education or experience in wine.

About Uncorked Ventures

Uncorked Ventures is one of the lesser known wine clubs for those new to wine and not one that has taken over social media.  This is likely due to the demographic targeted by the club: fairly big budgets, good knowledge, potential collectors, those looking to impress.  Club members sign up and choose from three tiers of membership: Explorations, Special Selection, and Reserve Selection.  While each tier offers two bottles of small, highly rated or would be highly rated wines, each level has a price point attached with Explorations being the cheapest at about $20/bottle (average if shipping is not included when calculating).  Special Selection is the middle tier with an average price of $47/bottle (shipping not included) and is suggested for the "discerning".  The Reserve Selection level, priced around $97/bottle (shipping not included) is for "when only the best will do."  All levels have a $13 shipping fee attached (prices in chart illustrate the total cost per shipment with shipping included). 

Uncorked Ventures does not use a preference test or allow members to switch out wines for others.  In fact, there are no choices other than the three tiers.  White is only available in the Explorations level, which comes with one white and one red.  If you call, the staff at Uncorked Ventures will work with you to get 2 reds in your Explorations level membership.

Wines are selected mostly from California from small producers with relationships with the club and are generally not available outside of the vineyard and general area.  The club does send wines from nearby Oregon and Washington states but the focus is on California wine country.

Like many clubs Uncorked Ventures sends out educational materials, offers reordering discounts, and a newsletter.

What Does Membership Get Me?

  • Shipments at your selected frequency of monthly, every other month, or quarterly. These shipments contain two bottles of west coast wines that are either highly rated or high quality but not known enough to have been rated.
  • A newsletter that contains a nice amount of information on the wines, producers, vineyards, educational pieces, and tasting notes.
  • Flat rate shipping of $13.
  • 15% discount on all reorders.
  • Access to wines through the Uncorked Ventures online shop.
  • Explorations members get a 10% discount in the Uncorked Ventures online store.

Take Note: We suggest that members at the Explorations level at least start by getting one red and one white.  We're always tempted to skip white options but why miss exposure to new wines?

Show Me The Money!

There are wine clubs that leave something to be desired about their pricing, Uncorked Ventures is fairly up front about pricing - especially in places where it matters - but there are definitely some things to be aware of.

  • The club is more expensive than others with the lowest tier, which they call "cheap" coming in at about $25/bottle. While this is clearly communicated, many beginners in wine may not realize that there are clubs, and bottles, that offer great wines at a lower price point. $25/bottle is not cheap.
  • In some places on the site it states that members can get 2-3 bottles but there is no information about whether or not there is a discount for going with 3 bottles.
  • Uncorked Ventures does not charge a membership fee.
  • Uncorked Ventures has a link on their site for their shipping and cancellation policy but the cancellation policy IS NOT LISTED. See our note below about getting it in writing.

Get It In Writing:  If you call the club to make a special arrangement, like an all red shipment or a higher level that includes a white bottle, or if you do a 3 bottle option - anything that is not on the website - be sure to ask for an email describing the agreement while you're on the phone to avoid confusion or billing inconsistencies.  Get the cancellation policy in writing - it doesn't appear on the site and with a high priced club you don't want to be on the hook for continued shipments post cancellation.

Things We Like

The Allure Of Little Known Wine - We love wine and we love introducing people to knew wines, or exploring those new wines with our other wine loving friends.  There is something nice about getting a bottle that you know no one else will have or, even better, will have never tasted.  We also love supporting smaller vineyards and west coast wines?  Pretty amazing.

 The Materials - Some clubs don't know what to put in the box with the wine.  Some sort of have an idea.  Others nail it.  Uncorked Ventures nails it.  Every time.  Materials span wine education on several levels: studies in terroir, climate, varietal as well as bios and information on the vineyards.  Talk about getting to know wine deeply.

 It's Okay To Be Indecisive - If you've ever wished you didn't have to be the one to make all the decisions or if you're the person who answers, "What do you want to do for dinner?" with "I don't know, what do you want to do for dinner?" then this is the club for you.  Pick the tier and then sit back - your wine is selected for you without any requirement to log in, make selections, say what you like... sometimes that's nice.

Things We Don't Like

The Outdated/Missing/Less Than Transparent Website - It may just be us, but the lack of information about the people running the site and selecting the wines raises an eyebrow for us.  We all want to hear from an expert, and we'll pay more for expert advice.  But simple searches on the founders (who are listed as the selection makers) shows zero about their experience in wine.  Two dudes who like wine?  We might be okay with that.  But if you're going to select wines for me that should be winning awards and I'm going to pay a premium on those bottles I want to make sure you have some experience and education in wine.  

No All White Option - We love reds as much as the next guy but what's up with so many wine clubs not offering an all white option?  It's not about temperature since these do exist (there are even clubs with sparkling options).  Embrace whites, we say. 

No All White Option - We love reds as much as the next guy but what's up with so many wine clubs not offering an all white option?  It's not about temperature since these do exist (there are even clubs with sparkling options).  Embrace whites, we say. 

What If I Cancel? - Let's say you order a monthly subscription and decide to cancel after three months... are you on the hook for the other nine?  We don't know either.

The Verdict

For the more experienced wine lover interested in acquiring hard to find bottles, this is the perfect club, especially if you can accept that you may not be having experts select and send your wines.  You'll definitely be exposed to bottles and vineyards you've never heard of and if you love west coast wines, you'll get your fair share of those.  There are other, better options, but that's not to say that this club isn't a good experience.  It's just not going to be the best experience in wine clubs.

About the Author Tim Edison

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love of wine and interest in anything related to it ever since his late teens.

Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it.

Tim has travelled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa.

It is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here on wineturtle.com and take you along on the journey for a second time!

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