Bottled up: Wine clubs can help you broaden your tastes
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Bottled up: Wine clubs can help you broaden your tastes

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As your dedicated wine writer, I find it my mission to keep you informed and on the inside track of all things wine.  Many businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 and in the Quad-Cities many restaurants, distributors and retailers have had to grapple with this “new normal”. 

What I find most interesting are the ones that learn to bounce back and chart new paths forward demonstrating the strength of our cities.  At the Faithful Pilot in Le Claire they are redoing just that, with an exciting new wine club.  The Faithful Pilot, as many of you are aware has made a name for itself with exciting culinary creations and Owner and Executive Chef Robert Day and Certified Specialist of Wine Tony Morales are now taking that same commitment to serving up quality and variety into providing something new and unique for wine enthusiasts in our area. 

Many winos are familiar with the concept of wine clubs.  Every major wine producer whether Napa or Australia typically offers a club in which members can get early shipments of the vineyard’s finished wines delivered annually or semi-annually.  There are many online wine clubs as well, from the Wall Street Journal’s own wine club, to hip Instagrammable versions like Vinebox and Winc.  All of these options come with their own set of challenges, do you want to commit to a full case of only one type of wine?  You’ll also find myself a little skeptical on the ones promising to match taste preferences from a Buzzfeed-style quiz matching zodiac signs to Cabernet.  It can also be a little daunting to be unsure of the quality that is arriving from your online order without knowledge of the selections or selectors of those bottles.

Morales and Day developed the concept shortly after COVID-19 hit the Quad-Cities, temporarily suspending traditional dining options at the Faithful Pilot. The duo, led by Day's culinary exuberance, set a new course offering to-go family-style meals with wine pairings and several limited availability wine case offerings that sold out almost as quickly as they could be released. Demonstrating innovation and ingenuity can in fact be birthed out of the smoldering ash of a pandemic.

I had the opportunity to talk to Morales, who is curating the Faithful Pilots’ new wine club.  “[At the Faithful Pilot] we focus on quality, variety and value — we are global and we aren’t scared of little known grapes or regions…. We are about making it a lot less intimidating and less risky for folks to find great wines, affordably.” 

The wine club consists of a 12 bottle case made up of four wines, a white, a rose, and three red wines hand-selected by Morales to ensure the quality and variety they strive for.  In addition, wine club members will have the opportunity to purchase limited release bottles that come available, exclusive early access to secure wine dinner reservations, and complementary delivery.  Yes, you read that right — to your home.  Morales also works with multiple distributors to ensure that the wines tasted and ultimately selected are unique and ones you’d be hard-pressed to have seen before.

“Everything we put in front of our folks (in our wine classes as well) is taste tested as we strive to surprise with fun, interesting and well-made wines.  We use multiple distributors, just like for our wine classes, so our chances to find cool new stuff are better and we don’t end up passing off plonk to our folks disguised as "good deals for a wine club."

For those that have signed up for the wine club, in its most recent June delivery the Faithful Pilot included:

  • Luzon Blanco – 50% Macebo, 50% Sauvignon Blanc – Jumilla, Spain
  • Foxglove Zinfandel – 100% Zinfandel – Paso Robles
  • Quarisa Johnny Q – 100% Petite Sirah – New South Wales, Australia
  • Boomtown by Dusted Valley - 98% Syrah 2% Petite - Washington

Wine clubs can be a great way to sample your way through a world of wine.  Trying new things, some become go-to favorites, others expand your palate and broaden tastes.  If you’ve been looking for wine club subscription this is a great opportunity to support local wine retailers and taste some unique and delicious wines in the months ahead.  Cost of the six month membership ranges from $165 to $175 per month which for 12 bottles delivered to your home each month offers great affordability while receiving top notch wines.

For more information on the Faithful Pilot wine club, membership benefits or to sign-up call 563-289-4156.

Carson Bodnarek, a self-proclaimed “cork dork”, is a certificate recipient from the Court of Master Sommeliers, WSET Level II and is currently studying for his certified sommelier exam. Always on the hunt for his next great bottle of wine for his collection, he is an avid jetsetter and devout foodie. After moving to Quad-Cities from Iowa City in 2013, Carson now resides in Bettendorf.

Contact Carson Bodnarek at 563-383-2299 or


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