Costa Mesa’s Hi-Time Wine Cellars is celebrating 60 years of providing incredible wine experiences to Orange County. The store opened in 1957, created by Fritz Hanson and his brother-in-law Jim McVay. Though McVay sadly passed many years ago, the Hanson family has dedicated decades and multiple generations to create one of the most highly esteemed independent retailers in the country. Tobin Sharp, creative director, started with Hi-Time in 1995 in its cigar section. His 22 years of service have given him insight to what makes this store so special and timeless.
What matters most in terms of the store?
Family and community. We are a family-owned store and strive to make our customers part of the family by treating them how we’d like to be treated. We also give back to the community in many ways: Our annual charity chili cook-off benefiting the Boys & Girls Club is our main outreach. But, we donate literally hundreds of baskets and tasting cards to charities each year, pour wines and spirits at numerous benefit tastings and host them in our wine bar, offer discount pricing for charities who need to buy through us, work with local schools (ice for the football team, advertise in their various publications), and so on.
Has the Hanson family considered selling the store?
Not that I know of … with three generations and extended family working here on any given day, it’s been a great family tradition that should continue to grow. Both sons of my boss have gotten engaged in the last few months, so we should continue to grow (grandbabies!).
What distinguishes Hi-Time from other retail and online stores?
Product depth and employee knowledge. We tend to carry more products, and more “offbeat” products, than the big box booze stores or most smaller stores; due to our longevity and track record we tend to get decent supplies of more allocated items. Many of our staff members have been here 15, 20 years or more. Store founder Fritz and his brother Chuck, both here since 1957, still come in a couple days each week (Fritz only if he’s in town—we see him more during the holiday season). We also have very competitive pricing, to make up the third leg of the tripod.
What are the store’s most prized bottles or wine selections?
You’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, but I will give you my take. In wine, we have some DRCs (red Burgundies from Domaine Romanée-Conti) I would love to take home and drink. Our selection of grower-producer Champagnes is phenomenal. Some of our cult cabs from California would be a treat. Some of the value-oriented wines we offer from Spain, Italy, Chile, and Argentina are fantastic everyday quaffers—our “Ramp O’ Value” is magical!
How is Hi-Time commemorating the 60 years of business?
This month, we’re offering special weekly email promotions and we’ll have a 10 percent-off sale in November. We’ve also been giving away special takeaways like pens, shot glasses, coasters, beer openers all year. We had a party earlier in the year for employees and long-time friends, family, and business folks.
Where did the name Hi-Time originate?
An expression from a different time denoting good times and fun: “It’s high time for a night out!”
Catch Hi-Time at our upcoming whiskey tasting event! More info and tickets here. –>Whiskey Classic 2017
Hi-Time Wine Cellars
250 Ogle St, Costa Mesa