I have never written about a specific wine retailer and I should start to do this.
I rarely get to visit wine retailers as much as I use to–time or lack of time is the chief reason. Also, I felt for so long I had to write about my local retailers first but I felt not a single reason to do so. I have never really found any store in San Francisco with a deep SKU or category assortments. I use to review wines and say where I purchased them and gave that up quickly (San Francisco retailers). I gave up mentioning when I purchased a bottle as the retailer never gave a like, an RT, a thumbs up or a ‘Thank you.’ I do get samples and I do buy wines myself. I am still a customer and thank yous today are ever more important.
San Francisco’s retail space for wine is small square footage and hence a wide or deep SKU offerings are limited. But I do look at overall assortments and some retailers in San Francisco just have a funky or non-sensical assortment. One particular wine retailer I visit which is close to me and has food under one roof and every time I ask for a region or variety–they never have it (and I’m not asking for anything obscure).
I do feel compelled to write a short article about Hi-Time Wine Cellar in Costa Mesa. Founded in 1957 and has 24,000 square feet of retail space for wine, beer, spirits and allied products. I love the expansiveness of assortment. On my last visit I walk into the Champagne-sparkling wine room. I found plenty of RM (Récoltant Manipulant) wines, larger format and a thoughtful of sparkling wines from around the world. I am holding a bottle of lovely Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs NV jeroboam — which I wanted to buy immediately. I need to celebrate something. Large format bottles make me weak in the knees–not because they are too heavy–they are just a remarkable statement of Champagne and the respectivce peroducer about large format bottles.
Hi-Times is candy store for adults–the vastness even from a visual perspective make’s one heart beat a little quicker. I want local wines and I want wines from far away. The wine availability was thoughtful and even unexpected as an example I found not one but two different Sinegal wines from Napa Valley–I have never seen that in a store in Northern California. There was a very nice selection of French and Italian wines–lovely Port and Madeira selections. I like the diagonal displays of wine – the design is perfect for viewing and a point of difference in terms of visual merchandising.
I found a dedicated wall of Eastern European wines–not just haphazardly stocked but nicely stocked and with nice details of the wines. I found Cremisan from the West Bank which is nice to see in addition from wines from the region Turkey, Israel and Lebanon.
There are also plenty of coveted beyond the glass wines like Krug, Mouton Rotschild, Petrus and many more. Of course retailers have Burgundy but may have a small share of Grand Cru. I found everything all of the Grand Cru that I adore: Grands Échezeaux, Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot and so fourth
If you find yourself in Orange County pay a visit to Hi Time Wine Cellar–I always carry a Wine Mummy (padded travel wine sleeve) or other padding for transporting wine back. I did find a bottle of Turkish wines which I could not find here in SF Bay Area. Finding help is easy as the staff is visiting all sections frequently. The staff is very knowledgeable not just about the wine in stock but wine in general. A very nice visit!
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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