St George Wine Club- The Place to Connect

The St George Wine Club meets once a month in Southern Utah, providing a place for people to connect with each other, and enjoy a glass of wine, or two…  Not only does this wine club provide a place for people to enjoy each other’s company and network, the events they host are indicative of a vibrant and welcoming community of people. We sat down with Marianne Hamilton, the co-administrator of the organization.

Q What led you to start the wine club?

MH: I always want to be clear about the fact that the club was actually founded three years before my husband Doug and I moved to St. George. We got here – after our “migration” from California – in January of 2014, and attended our first wine club social four days later. Almost as a joke, before we moved Doug had Googled “wine, St. George,” and up came something called the St. George Wine Club. We were delighted to find some like-minded folks here, as (having lived near Wine Country in Northern CA), we were definitely vino-fans. So that first social was a lovely way to start making friends with local members of the community.

Funny thing: The club was actually founded by a very smart guy named Phil Loomis, who (unbeknownst to us) had lived just a few miles from us in CA. Phil is not a wine drinker, but when he and his wife Kit moved here (from Saratoga, CA, which is the next town over from Los Gatos, our former home), she wanted to find someone with whom to share a glass now and again. They connected with a couple of neighbors who were wine drinkers and invited them over; soon that turned into a semi-regular thing. Eventually, those neighbors invited other friends to the gatherings…and the wine club was born. When we attended our first social, there were about 25 or so people mixing and mingling at someone’s house.

A few months later, Phil asked us if we’d be willing to take over the management of the club, saying that (after three years) he and Kit were a bit weary of washing wine glasses and plates. Doug and I thought that might be a fun way to meet more new friends and bring people together, so we agreed. And it’s been one of the most wonderful, rewarding parts of being here for the past nine years.

Q. For people who are unfamiliar with what goes on at a wine club social, can you fill us in?

MH: We have kind of a cool model. In the fall of 2014, when we took over the management of the club, we transitioned it into a registered nonprofit which is now overseen by an all-volunteer board of directors (Frankie Fleming, Rick Crockett, Jane & Neal Mankey, and Kathy & Bill Starks…and administered by Ernie Doose, former Executive Director of A.R.T.S., Inc.). 

Each month we meet at different venues in the St. George area (it’s admittedly a challenge to find spaces that are large enough to accommodate all of our members, and also allow alcohol on their premises). Everyone brings a bottle of wine and an appetizer to share, and we request a $10 donation. All of the wine and food is placed on tables, and everyone walks around and samples whatever appeals to them. We also hire local musicians to provide live background entertainment. 

After we pay the performers (and buy tablecloths and napkins at the Dollar Store!), all remaining proceeds are donated to arts and education charities. In the eight years that we’ve been a nonprofit (which includes the two years when we went “dark” during COVID), we’ve returned $90,000 to the community. We hope that by the end of 2023, we’ll have given back $100,000 to support artists and worthy causes. Over the years we’ve funded UT Tech’s College of the Arts, their Athletic Department and their Alumni Association; the Art Around the Corner Foundation; the Kayenta Center for the Arts; ArtProvides; and many other wonderful organizations. 

In 2019 we were approached by a group out in Dammeron Valley who wanted to start up a club of their own, and become part of our 501 (c) (3). There was also interest from some folks out in Kanab, and another group inquired about bringing a potential beer aficionado organization under our umbrella. With that in mind, we transitioned our name from the St. George Wine Club to the Southern Utah Wine Guild…and that’s remained our name to this day.

Q: What if you don’t drink wine? Can you still attend a social?

MH: Absolutely! As noted above, our founder is not a drinker of any sort of alcohol; he brings a giant soda each month, and has a wonderful time chatting with everyone. All are welcome, no matter whether they choose to enjoy wine or not. We just ask that our guests come with an open mind, and be willing to be part of the community that enjoys adult beverages. 

Q: How many members do you have? 

MH: Amazingly, we have nearly 1800 people on our rolls. We don’t have that many people at any one social, of course; that would be crazy! And people sort of rotate in and out, depending on their travel schedules. Now that COVID is mostly in the rear-view window, and people are feeling more comfortable about socializing, we draw anywhere from 100 to 200 per event (we stopped gathering for nearly two years during the pandemic, which was rough…but clearly was the responsible thing to do). We’ve never asked for members to produce proof of vaccination, but we’ve definitely encouraged people to get vaxxed and boosted. Given our demographic – which skews older/retirees – we would never want to put anyone at risk.

Q: How often do you meet? 

MH: Typically our socials are held on the third Sunday of each month, from September through June. We take July and August off, as many of our members are traveling…and it’s just too hot to gather outdoors!

Q: How does one become a member?

MH: It’s a very complex, secretive process. 🙂Anyone who’s interested in joining the Southern Utah Wine Guild should send Doug an email to In return he will send a message with all of the pertinent info (how often/when we meet, what to bring, the requested donation, etc.), and then we will make a name-tag for the new member. We also have a website ( and a Facebook page ( where interested folks can find additional info.  

Q: What do you see in the club’s future?

MH: We’ve been delighted to see so many smaller groups springing up. Our good friends out at BRIO (where I teach water aerobics) have a flourishing club that meets on the second Sunday of the month, and I believe there’s a group out at SunRiver that meets regularly as well. Of course, all are welcome to attend our socials, and we try to “cross-pollinate” news from other groups wherever possible. 

It’s been truly exciting (in the 9 years that we’ve been in St. George) to watch as the area becomes more wine-centric, and allows more tasting options. We have several terrific winemakers in the area (Water Canyon out in Hildale, Zion Vineyards in Leeds, IG in Cedar City, Bold/Delaney in Dammeron Valley, etc.), who are producing some really wonderful wines. And when we think of all of the new restaurants and bars that have opened in recent years (Social District, Station 2 Bar, Hive 435, the beautiful bistro at Wood-Ash-Rye, and more, that offer very lovely wine lists), it’s very encouraging to know that our city is making an effort to support those of us who are adult beverage consumers. All of this is a very positive thing – and of course, when those customers learn about the Wine Guild, they’re usually very eager to join!

There may come a time (in the not-too-distant future) when Doug and I will be ready to hand the reins over to some of the good folks on our board, and get some new energy and ideas percolating. It’s been a very memorable and rewarding 8+ years since we’ve been at this…and it’s also a great deal of work to keep it all going. So now that we’re both firmly in the old-age category, we’ll probably reduce our involvement to some degree in the months/years ahead. It’s been an amazing ride, for sure! And we’ve been honored to encourage and enable people to connect and “sip for a good cause.”

Catori Utah

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