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The Wild World of Wine-Sipping Peloton Riders

The high-end brand has spawned a tight-knit wine drinking community

Aaron Goldfarb By January 4, 2022
woman on Peloton bike with a glass of wine
Illustration by Ananda Walden

The SipNSpin is a clear acrylic tray that attaches to Peloton exercise bikes, enabling users to keep a laptop or book at arm’s reach while working out. Most interesting, however, is the small, keyhole-sized notch in the bottom right corner of the $54.99 device. Its purpose, as the image on its sales page specifically shows, is to hold a stemmed glass full of wine.

“I thought it was really fascinating,” says Russ Hadlock, when he discovered this latest trend. “That there were whole groups of women that were drinking wine while riding their Pelotons.”

Hadlock is the president of Top Form, a Yakima, Washington-based fitness and productivity brand that makes high-speed jump ropes, yoga foam rollers, and gel pad bicycle seat covers, plus the SipNSpin. Founded in 2019, it originally produced a tray with a mere gel pad to help keep items like a rider’s phone from slipping off. Then Melissa Horbal, a real estate agent in Central Florida, told Hadlock she was actually using the no-slip gel pad to hold glasses of her favorite wine. 

Hadlock soon learned that so were many others.

An entire subculture

Scroll the Peloton leaderboard and you will find countless Pelotonians with names like FineWinePedaler, pelo4pinot, and RhoneRider. These aren’t twenty-something louts either. Most are bona fide adults, many of them working parents with serious jobs, loving spouses, and doted-on children. The kind of folks who, nevertheless, and especially during a pandemic, found themselves having that kinda day more often than not. 

With time so limited, why not combine your passions?

“Sharing a bottle of wine with friends isn’t necessarily about the wine,” says Jen Watson, a mother of four teenagers in Minneapolis. Active on both social media and amongst Peloton groups, she is more likely to ride hard and then reward herself afterward with a glass of Chandon sparkling rosé. She says that wine “is a ceremonial thing that gets you together. And the same is true with the Peloton community.”

On Facebook, there’s even a Pelowinos group that has ballooned to over 15,000 members since it was started by Bill Luby in late 2017. While most posts are no different than you’d find on any wine lovers message board — discussions of vintages, images of people’s dinner pairings, questions about wine travels — others detail drinking while riding, toast exercise accomplishments still in the saddle, or simply post amusing images of bottles of wine stored in their Peloton water bottle holders.

“The price point to get into Peloton is steep,” admits Watson. The most basic model starts at around $1,500 before added costs for shoes, bike weights, and the $39 per month subscription fee. And the same high costs can obviously be true with wine as well, which Watson suspects might be why there is so much overlap between the two upscale passions; likewise, there are Peloton fans of craft beer, bourbon, cigars, and even marijuana, but these followings are significantly smaller.

To be clear, those that indulge in $100 bottles of Caymus while riding aren’t typically busting their asses on instructor Olivia Amato’s high-intensity hills ride. Many use the “Just Ride” function or opt for a lower-stress scenic class, enabling them to pleasantly peddle through, say, the virtual stretch of Santa Monica Beach or Melbourne at night, perhaps while enjoying a theoretically local Shiraz.

“It’s really no different than a bike crawl,” says Hadlock, who admits that his SipNSpin, among other Peloton products, have become so successful during the pandemic that he no longer has any time to do rides himself — though he admits to testing his device to make sure it actually works. 

Peloton Interactive, Inc., for their part, doesn’t seem to have much issue with people using their cult bikes like barstools. They offered no comment on this story, but Hadlock says they’ve posted images of his SipNSpin on their social channels, a tacit endorsement if anything.

Wineries too have begun trying to capitalize on this most unexpected trend. In April, Frank Family Vineyards in Calistoga, California, promoted a virtual event which included a 30-minute Peloton ride with instructor Jenn Sherman, complete with a hashtag #RideWithFrankFamily, followed by a tasting of their 2019 Carneros Chardonnay and 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Clif Family Winery in St. Helena, California has hosted several Peloton events, most recently a pre-Thanksgiving ride with mimosas made of their Sparkling Brut Rosé. While the bawdily-named Good F—ing Wine touts their red wine blend as the perfect Peloton motivation.

There are even winemakers in the Pelowinos group, people like Adam Lee of Clarice Wine Company, who is PinotMaker on the leaderboard, and Dianna Novy of Flaunt Wine Company. The two have even teamed up for live Zooms to discuss topics of interest to group members. 

Wine “is a ceremonial thing that gets you together. And the same is true with the Peloton community.”

Not everybody’s on board

On the other hand, there are plenty of Peloton users that will never support the trend. On the Official Peloton Member Page on Facebook, some will poo-poo anyone who dares post an image drinking on their bike.

“It creates a visceral response from the other riders,” explains Hadlock. “People that are ‘legit’ Peloton riders really become unglued about the whole thing.”

For that reason, many Pelowinos seem a little reluctant to share their passion so visibly and even the Facebook group is private, requiring a brief application process to get accepted. But other riders have leaned heavily into the trend. There are countless shirts, wine glasses, and water bottles with pithy sayings relating the two passions. A particularly popular one at the moment reads: Coffee Peloton Wine Repeat. And in September, Watson went so far as to rent a Pedal Pub so that she and her twenty-two virtual Peloton friends could meet in real life to literally drink and ride together in public.

Then again, even if some people have no issue combining wine and rides, some just aren’t quite able to handle it. In fact, throughout social media you’ll find countless cautionary tales of riders who tried it once, only to quickly learn a life of pedaling with Pinot is not for them, and for one particular reason. As the anonymous owner of That Gay Guy Candle Co. wrote to his near 20,000 Twitter followers in March of 2021, “Don’t drink wine and then take a 30-minute Peloton class.” 

He finished his Tweet with a simple emoji that explained why: 🤮

Aaron Goldfarb lives in Brooklyn and is a novelist and the author of “Hacking Whiskey: Smoking, Blending, Fat Washing, and Other Whiskey Experiments” and “Gather Around Cocktails: Drinks to Celebrate Usual and Unusual Holidays.”