This is based on wine provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir






 About California Wine Club


Some of California’s Best Wine Can’t Be Found in Local Stores.


The California Wine Club is owned by Bruce and Pam Boring and has been around since 1990.


Here is how they describe their company:

Thank you for taking the time to visit our website and learn about our wine of the month programs!


For years Pam and I were frustrated trying to find truly great wine. Selecting a decent bottle of wine from thousands of pretty labels with prices ranging from $5-$35 was difficult at the best of times. We were always happiest with wine recommendations from friends.


So, that’s what we wanted to do with The California Wine Club, start a wine of the month club that was just like “one friend recommending a great bottle of wine to another friend”.


We are now celebrating 23 years of business and the wine adventures keep getting better! Pam and I knew that there were hundreds of small, family-owned wineries dedicated to producing exceptional wine … and it was this wine that we wanted to share with our monthly wine club members. Each month we travel California’s wine country searching out the wineries, meeting the families and tasting the wines that never make it to local stores or wine shops.


All the details are available on their site by clicking here.



CA Wine Club Options

With five wine of the month clubs to choose from, they have wine selections and wine gifts to suit all tastes and all budgets. To learn more click any of the following links:


Premier Series – Our original and most popular club!

Signature Series – For collectors and connoisseurs!

International Selections – From small “mom & pop” wineries around the world.

Aged Cabernet Series – Napa’s most prestigious Cabernets aged 8 – 12 years.

Pacific Northwest Series – Discover limited-production, award-winning wines from Oregon and Washington.


The California Wine Club is a different kind of wine of the month club…a difference you’ll taste with your first shipment!



Special offer for Cliff’s Wine Picks readers, get 50% off your first 3 months.  Click here for this special offer.



Wine Reorders and pricing

If you get a wine from one of their clubs and have to get more, it’s quick and easy.  Go to their Wine Reorder page and select the wines you want to purchase for up to 50% off normal retail prices.  A bonus is that you can purchase the wines even if you aren’t a member of one of the plans.  If you want to check out their selections and great prices, visit the Wine Reorder page by clicking here.  Note that purchases must be in 6 or 12 bottle increments and mixed cases are allowed.  You don’t have to order a solid case of a wine to get their great pricing.  Be warned, after checking out their selections and pricing, there’s a good chance you’ll be joining one of their wine clubs.


Price is always a big consideration when making wine purchases.  The California Wine Club prices, in a word, ROCK!  As an example, the Pinot Noir included in my shipment has a “tasting room” price of $30 but reorders are only $12.99 a bottle.  The Edelzwicker has an $18 release price but reorders were only $10.99 a bottle.


Their packaging

Besides the wine, my package included a “newsletter” called Uncorked.  This 12 page, full color publication was full of great information.  The info included a nice story on the winery, write ups about the wines including technical info and “insider” information from the owner/winemaker.  The newsletter also included a nice recipe for an Alsatian Onion Tart as well as a list of some previous wine selections still available via the company.



About Claiborne and Churchill

Claiborne & Churchill is a small, family-owned winery founded in 1983 by Claiborne (Clay) Thompson and Fredericka Churchill.  Former teachers at the University of Michigan (Clay specialized in Old Norse Languages and Literatures and Fredericka taught German), the couple left the “Groves of Academe” for the vineyards of California in 1981 in order to start a new life in the wine industry.  Clay began as a “cellar rat” in a local winery, learning the business from the ground up (actually underground), and soon the two were encouraged to start their own wine production in that host facility.


With its first crush in 1983 Claiborne & Churchill announced its special focus, producing 565 cases of Dry Gewürztraminer and Dry Riesling, modeled on the fruity but dry dinner wines of the French province of Alsace.  Claiborne & Churchill now produces about 10,000 cases of wine a year, purchasing grapes from vineyards in the cool maritime valleys of California’s CentralCoast.  About two-thirds of these wines remain our signature wines, the Dry Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer, which are sold all over the country (and abroad) by a network of brokers and distributors.  A variety of other wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other wines in the Alsatian style (Pinot Gris, Dry Muscat, and an Edelzwicker), are produced in small lots and can be ordered directly from the winery.


In 1995 Clay and Fredericka completed construction on their new and permanent winery building.  This structure, a noteworthy example of environmental architecture, is a “straw bale building,” the first of its kind in California.  With sixteen-inch thick walls made of bales of rice straw, the winery is so well insulated that it maintains a constant cellar temperature, without the need for mechanical cooling or heating.


At Claiborne & Churchill traditional European winemaking techniques prevail, including extensive use of barrel-fermentation and barrel-aging (even with Riesling and Gewürztraminer), minimal manipulation of juice and wine, “natural” or spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeast, and limited use of SO2, all in the belief that the winemaker’s task is to bring out the flavor and character that is latent in the grape.  Our aim is to create pleasurable dinner wines in which there is a harmonious balance of fruit and oak, structure and texture.


For much more information, visit:  Claiborne & Churchill Website


The lineup for this tasting:

CA Wine Club Line up




2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend – SRP $18

This wine is a blend of 47.5% Gewurztraminer, 47.5% Riesling, 2.5% Pinot Gris and 2.5% Pinot Blanc from various vineyards on California’s CentralCoast.


This is sealed with a twist off cap and has 12.9% alcohol.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright yellow to straw color.  The very refreshing nose has apples, honey, spice, orange blossoms, lemon zest, and a faint petrol note.  This wine has light to medium body, is off dry and has decent acidity.  This has a creamy mouth feel and a jolt of closing citrusy acidity.  On the palate this tastes like crisp, tart apples that were dipped in honey and sprinkled with spices and citrus zest.  The finish has decent length with the apples and spice lingering nicely.  This would be wonderful on its own or with a light meal on a warm, sunny day on the deck or patio.  Not a wine for deep thoughts or contemplation, just twist off the top and enjoy.  (87 pts)

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors' Blend

2012 Claiborne and Churchill Edelzwicker Proprietors’ Blend



2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir – SRP $30

This 100% Pinot Noir was produced using grapes from several vineyards in the EdnaValley.  The finished wine was aged in French oak barrels for 10 months.


This has 13.8% alcohol by volume and is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a shade or two darker than medium ruby.  The interesting nose has raspberries, earthy underbrush, cola, cherries, warm baking spices, and a nice floral note.  This has medium body, soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  The palate is highlighted by tart cherries and spices with earthiness and raspberries coming in on the back end.  The finish has good length with the earthiness and spicy cherries slowly fading away.  (89 pts)


This would pair nicely with your holiday dinner or with chicken any time of the year.

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir

2009 Claiborne and Churchill Pinot Noir




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.