Article by Natalie Compango
Natalie Compagno owns the renowned Traveler’s Bookcase in Los Angeles with her husband. She has traveled to 85 countries and loves mixing luxury with local flair. She writes for many travel outlets and is the co-creator of “Luxe Lavs”, a monthly column on PeterGreenberg.com devoted to the most amazing hotel bathrooms around the world. Her favorite place to visit is always the last place she’s been. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & her website.
Luxury has a new playground.
The traditional country club is no longer the only option for mingling with people who share similar passions; a new kind of membership, one centered around fine wine, has evolved. Sonoma County is known for its quality wines, locally sourced food and diverse experiences. Sonoma’s wineries are trending wine memberships that weave in these attributes while offering chic benefits and exclusive activities catering to upscale lifestyles.
Ram’s Gate provides an “unparalleled winery experience for all the senses” through its architecture, food and wine.
The powerful design, by Howard Backen, reimagines the weathered farmhouses of old Carneros as a sleek, modern site. membership certainly has its privileges here and many oenophiles come weekly to enjoy the complimentary glass of wine and private members-only spaces. The impeccably chic interior of the member’s gallery and library carries into the open design leading to stunning views of the vineyards.
Reservations are always required at Ram’s Gate and tables are reserved with charming hand-written signs.
The winery is a gourmand’s delight. Distinctive wine and food pairings, created by a full-time executive chef, are for members only. Pork belly gougere pairs with the 2012 Pinot Noir Glass House Vineyard and veal albondigas with the 2012 Chardonnay Sangiacomo Green Acres Vineyard. Members can sign up for Palate Play, a tour of the facilities followed by a seated tasting.
Behind The Gate lets members watch Executive Chef Taylr Behnam’s culinary skills first-hand while the head sommelier reveals what makes a perfect pairing. Hive to Table celebrates the work of on-property beekeeper in the Sunday Supper series. With so many elegant options it’s easy to see why Ram’s Gate’s membership is first class.
Other wineries focus on service and exclusivity as their wine club perks, along with intimate parties for socializing.
Rodney Strong’s Symmetry Society enjoys reserve Pinot Noir and Chardonnay whose limited quantity keeps it practically members-only, along with concierge service. The Symmetry Society Sommelier is available to members for consulting on everything from wine collecting and food pairing, to creating wine tasting events at home and storing wine properly.
Rodney Strong’s hospitality department provides a Sonoma County Concierge who takes care of reservations and recommendations that fit member’s interests. Rockaway Vineyard, never open to the public, is the backdrop to a yearly wine club party and invitations are coveted. One of the best parts about joining Rodney Strong’s Symmetry Society is the access it gives to proprietor Tom Klein. His enthusiasm and involvement in the wine community, as well as his knowledge of terroir are priceless.
The only way to savor the wine and property of MacMurray Ranch is to be a wine club member.
This stunning ranch and vineyard is closed to the public. Actor Fred MacMurray bought the property in 1941 and today his daughter Kate MacMurray is personally involved. Old Hollywood whispers in between the trees but this is a truly Sonoma experience. The focus is on Pinot Noir. There are only two releases a year and besides a handful of select restaurants, the only way to taste this wine is through the wine club.
MacMurray Ranch’s membership draws people who love a rustic yet upscale ranch lifestyle. The exclusive events, all hosted by Kate MacMurray, epitomize this.
The Spring Picnic takes members through the vineyard culminating in an organic lunch surrounded by rolling hills. The Harvest Dinner is a real luxury.
This turkey dinner is intimate at 35 people and Kate MacMurray’s family recipes are shared along with Pinot Noir. MacMurray Ranch was previously a prune orchard so the prune chutney balanced with Pinot Noir is a delicious touch as well as a parting gift.