Brian McClintic is a Master Sommelier and documentary film star of the feature-length trilogy SOMM , SOMM: Into the Bottle, and SOMM3. After 15 years in hospitality, spanning wine destinations such as the Little Nell in Aspen, Brian co-founded Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant in Santa Barbara, where he was named “The Wine Guy to Hire” by Departures magazine and among the “40 Under 40 Tastemakers” by Wine Enthusiast.
Bitten by the travel bug in recent years, McClintic left the floor and launched Viticole in 2016, an online wine club, focusing on organically-farmed custom bottlings that he curates with his favorite winemakers from around the world.
“Truth? I’ve never been a fan of retail wine clubs. They frequently feel like an afterthought, a way to shore up excess inventory. I could never reconcile the notion that to the people giving a retailer their credit card to swipe at will, the retailer would often return that confidence with ‘hmm, what wine do I have enough of here on the shelf that I can fit into the club.’ I mean, a wine club member has basically entrusted you as their compass. Little do they know that the arrow often points south, to a very dusty, cobwebby, dark corner of a staff-only storage room.
I spent the summer of 2016 mulling over false premises, while dishing out sporadic wine offers on Instagram. Inevitably, I’d run into a friend at a bar who would say, ‘Why don’t you make Viticole a wine club?’, to which I’d reply with the script above. And after enough ire had been raised and venom spewed, curmudgeon fatigue set in and the glass began to look half full. I became intrigued with the proposition of creating a wine club model that I would be excited to join. By end of summer, the previous 50-page business plan found its way to the scrapheap and a consumer advocacy crusade began.
Let’s set the records straight. This is an unapologetically selfish crusade of wines that I LOVE and an exploration of why I love the wines I love, as told through custom collaborations with a hand-chosen mercenary platoon of some of the world’s finest organic wine growers, which has taken the mantra to ‘can I love what I love even more?’. Can we push this thing forward? What is possible in terms of quality and with respect to environmental consciousness?
The Viticole Wine Club today is the harmony of my personal taste and ecological beliefs. The two are hopelessly linked. Let no stone be unturned. Let no glass be empty. And oh, the places we’ll go…”
- Brian McClintic, Owner/Founder