Join the club and support your local booze biz with a membership.
Buy booze; build community. That’s the motto of Reno-Tahoe breweries, wineries, and distilleries who’ve launched their own clubs to reward regulars with discounts, exclusive events, and personalized swag. From beer-pairing dinners to handmade engraved bovine horn mugs, the unique perks of joining these clubs go far beyond supporting your favorite watering hole year-round.
Engine 8 Urban Winery
All aboard the wine club at Engine 8 Urban Winery in Sparks! With a choice of three tiers — The Conductors Club ($229), The Engineer Club ($139), and The Caboose Club ($90) — members receive nine, six, or four bottles of wine, respectively, every quarter. For those with a sweet tooth, enjoy three bottles of port four times a year through the All a’Port Club ($85).
“One thing that’s unique for our wine club members is they get to choose the wines that they want,” says Wendi Rawson, co-owner of the winery with her husband, Mike.
While the cabernet sauvignon remains the crowd favorite, a new Chardonnay and zinfandel are quickly becoming regulars in member boxes from what the Rawsons say is the largest winery in Northern Nevada.
A custom wine glass with “member” etched on it; varying discounts on wine, food, and retail; complimentary tours; two free flights per quarter; exclusive special offers; and invitations to wine club events are the other perks of jumping on the wine club train at Engine 8.
South Lake Brewing Co.
“The Bär Society membership is the heart and soul of South Lake Brewing Co.,” says Nicole Smith, co-founder and vice president of SLBC. “We love to share our passions for craft beer, the outdoors, and our small mountain town with our customers.”
Known for its creative brews and array of events — from free concerts and comedy nights to fundraisers for the furry heroes of Sierra Avalanche Dogs — SLBC always has something going on. Membership at the South Lake Tahoe brewery earns patrons 15 percent off beer and merchandise for the year, an exclusive Bär Society branded item, access to members-only events and tastings, pre-released beer and merchandise, and monthly email newsletters.
With a second location near Heavenly Village opening in the new year, the brewery offers Bär Society members a chance to enjoy an exclusive pairing dinner at The Libation Lodge by South Lake Brewing Co. The menu of small plates will mostly feature Pacific Rim fusion food you won’t find elsewhere on the South Shore.
Join the Ferino family with a membership to Club Ferino, a cocktail society. The Italy-inspired craft distillery in East Reno was founded by Joe Cannella — whose last name means “cinnamon” in Italian — after discovering a liqueur made from his namesake spice on a trip to Sicily. Stateside, he pivoted from a career in marketing to create his own spirit, the Cannella Cinnamon Cordial, a blend of four cinnamon varietals, coriander, and clove, and Ferino Distillery was born.
Now, Cannella has a line of botanical-forward spirits at his Reno-based distillery, including a recent collaboration with Coffeebar in Reno to create a single-origin coffee liqueur, Caffè Notte. There’s a new gin on the horizon, too.
Twice a month, patrons who join the distillery’s Club Ferino will get a tipple mixed up with Ferino spirits in a personal 28-ounce “Bitter is Better” Tiki Barrel. In addition, the $20 per month membership earns you 10 percent off your tab, access to research and development nights where you’ll get first sips of new cocktails, free shipping on bottles, and 60 percent off distillery tours and tastings.
The Pour House
It’s a tight-knit community of wine lovers at The Pour House in Truckee owned by husband-and-wife duo Dean Schaecher and Christa Finn. Seventeen years ago, the couple opened the 500-square-foot wine shop, which also supplies artisanal cheeses from around the world, and soon after launched their wine clubs. The Poor House Club provides a selection of two wines each month for $30, and the Big House Club offers the same number of higher-tier wines for $50.
“We have wine club members who’ve been members for 15 years,” says Finn, who writes a lighthearted monthly newsletter to members describing tasting notes, interesting details on the winery, and sometimes a recipe that pairs well with the month’s choices. “Wine shouldn’t be a chore.”
The wine is selected with the seasons in mind, but sometimes it’s all about an interesting bottle they discover.
“Fairly recently, we did an Au Bon Climat Pinot 2008 that was beautifully aged. People don’t often get a chance to drink wine that has been aged properly. Or we come across a wine from someplace like the Canary Islands, and not many people have had wine from there,” Finn explains.
With a selection of more than 350 different bottles of wine — plus Schaecher and Finn eagerly providing their expert knowledge — you’ll always walk away with a new favorite bottle (or two) from The Pour House.
Black Rabbit Mead Co.
Admire your handmade bovine horn mug — engraved on the bottom with your name — on the wall of Black Rabbit Mead Co.’s taproom before enjoying a 16-ounce pour of mead for the same price as the usual 13-ounce. The Rabbit Horn Club, launched just a few years ago, gives members 20 percent off all mead and merchandise at the Reno meadery that crafts cider-style meads with Sierra Nevada honey.
Though mead is the oldest alcohol in the world, enjoyed by a variety of cultures, many of the traditions around it have been lost over the last few centuries as other forms of alcohol came on the scene.
“In the modern-day era of mead making and meaderies, even though we’re seeing this incredible resurgence of what we do, we don’t have a lot of traditions to go off of,” says Will Truce, co-owner of Black Rabbit Mead. “At least out here, mead making is often associated with its western European roots, and back in the day, they did drink out of horn mugs.”
But ultimately, the club is about building community.
“In mug clubs, you’re definitely getting a good deal one way or another,” Truce adds. “But really, it’s about finding a home away from home in these taprooms. I think we’ve learned in the last couple of years that bars are one of the most popular places for community to gather.”
Claire McArthur is a freelance writer who urges you to find out about the many clubs available at breweries, wineries, distilleries, and wine shops around the region not mentioned in this article. Share the deets of your favorite club with her at Clairecudahy@gmail.com.
Black Rabbit Mead Co. Rabbit Horn Club Blackrabbitmeads.com/rabbit-horn-club-1
Engine 8 Urban Winery Wine Club Engine8urbanwinery.com/wine-club
Ferino Distillery Club Ferino Ferinodistillery.com/pages/club-ferino
South Lake Tahoe Brewing Co. Bär Society Southlakebeer.com/the-bar-society
The Pour House Wine Clubs Thepourhousetruckee.com/wine-club