Friday, August 19, 2016



 A trailblazer of Napa Valley winemaking, Freemark Abbey continues to evolve. Our outward transformation is a sign of our inward commitment to crafting classic Napa Valley wines of superior pedigree and quality. Raise a glass to our 130th anniversary.

Freemark Abbey's history dates back to 1886, when a pioneering young woman named Josephine Tychson founded one of Napa Valley's original 13 wineries in St Helena. The property was renamed Freemark Abbey in 1939, after it was purchased by Charles Freeman, Markquand Foster, and Albert "Abbey" Ahern. In 1967 a group of Napa Valley grape growers formed a partnership to purchase the winery. Freemark Abbey quickly gained a reputation as a valley leader in quality, focusing on exceptional fruit sources to create legendary Cabernet Sauvignon. Today Freemark Abbey produces distinct single-vineyard wines from two of Napa Valley's most impressive and unique vineyards in the Rutherford appellation - Bosche and Sycamore Cabernet Sauvignon.


(800) 963-9698 | TASTING ROOM OPEN DAILY 10AM–5PM

Friday, August 12, 2016



James can trace his California roots back to 1781, when Josef Ontiveros rode on horseback into Alta California and the family became the recipient of a Mexican land grant. At one time, the Ontiveros Family owned over 36,000 acres in modern-day Orange county. They then sold El Cajon de Santa Ana and Los Coyotes and moved to Santa Barbara county. The 1837 Rancho Tepusquet grant – nearly 9,000 acres bordered by the Sisquoc and Cuyama Rivers – was passed to Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, who constructed the Ontiveros Adobe on the property in 1856. He and his wife raised horses, cattle, sheep, several grain crops and grapes.

Over the eight generations that came before him, this cattle and farm land was divided and passed down until the mid-nineteenth century, at which point it had been completely sold off and none of the original land grant remained in their name.

Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard, one of the vineyard sources for Alta Maria, was not inherited; it has been built over the last 20 years. Mark and Louise, James' mother and father, worked to buy the ranch in 1986 with a wistful view of the original property of Rancho Tepusquet that once had been their own. James was the first in his family to go to college and became interesed in viticulture and winemaking while at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

James grew up ranching, but the wine business was fast becoming James' new love. The irony was that his family were cattle people with a little bit of a farming background; they were cowboys, not winemakers; over time that has changed.

James attendeed California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo working on dual degrees in Fruit Science and Crop Science. While in college in 1997 James planted 8 acres of Pinot Noir at Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard.

James has worked with Kendall-Jackson as a Field Supervisor throughout the Central Coast, with Gallo-Sonoma in grower relations in the North Coast and vineyard manager in Sonoma Coast and the Russian River. Most importantly for Alta Maria’s evolution, James took a position with the Miller family as Director of Sales and Marketing for 10 years which included over-seeing the Bien Nacido Vineyard, Solomon Hills, French Camp, CCWS and Paso Robles wine services. This was the property where his great, great, great, great grandfather Juan Pacifico Ontiveros had built the adobe on their original land grant.

With the 2004 vintage, James joined forces with Paul Wilkins, winemaker and long-time college friend, to start Alta Maria focusing on important sites for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from only the Santa Maria Valley AVA. They wanted to make genuine, honest and authentic wines that were inspired by the old world wines they loved. Much like James’ family history in California, Alta Maria reflects the heritage when times were simpler, people worked with the earth and were fulfilled personally and professionally by hard work.

Since 2005, Paul and James Ontiveros have been making Alta Maria Vineyards wines and in 2011 opened a much-anticipated joint tasting room for Alta Maria Vineyards and Native9 in Los Olivos, California. Alta Maria wines are sold in over a dozen states and export markets.

Alta Maria is a small, artisan winery focusing on producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the cold and oceanic Santa Maria Valley appellation in Santa Barbara County. Founded by 9th Generation California James Ontiveros, and Winemaker and long-time college friend Paul Wilkins, Alta Maria’s wines are inspired by the old world regions of France and are classic examples of purity, balance and complexity. We strive to make the best wines possible in a very conscientious manner and employ organic and sustainable practices leaving no indelible mark on the people and places around us.
The name “Alta Maria” refers to the upper Santa Maria River, which James’ ancestor, Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros crossed on Saint Mary’s Day, 1855, as he drove cattle from Southern California to his new home at Rancho Tepusquet – now home to some of the globe’s most renowned vines. The picturesque river flowing through the valley was the force responsible for sustaining ranch life in those early days.

The artwork for Alta Maria Vineyards features hand-hewn iron nails used by homesteaders in Santa Maria before the Industrial Revolution introduced mass-produced, machine-cut nails. Despite its lowly function, each nail is unique from the next according to the conditions in which it was made and the expertise of the craftsman.

“Native9 is the fulfillment of my own American story two centuries in the making. Tracing my roots back to the first men and women who settled in the Santa Maria Valley, I worked for hourly wages along with my parents to buy a small plot of land our ancestors’ 8,900-acre Mexican land grant: a modest cattle ranch where I planted my 8-acre vineyard and a panoramic view of the land that had once been our own. Planted in 1997 by my own two hands with the help of friends and family while I attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Rancho Ontiveros Vineyard is now considered one of the finest sites for Pinot Noir in California. As a natural extension of my deeply personal vision for this vineyard,Native9 is made in small lots with a nod to bothOld World sensibilities and New World stylistic freedom with the help of my longtime friend and vetted winemaker, Paul Wilkins. Though I wasn’t born into the wine industry by traditional means, I have vine-growing and farming in my blood. The name Native9 reflects my gratitude to the generations of California farmers and ranchers who came before me.”



Famous for his flamboyant personality and his fantastical style, the Burgundy born Boisset brought his signature French flair to the Napa Valley with the purchases of De Loach, Raymond Vineyards and Buena Vista Winery, the oldest premium winery in California. As proprietor of Boisset Family Estates, he has incorporated innovative winemaking techniques and sustainable practices across the estate’s 22 wineries in France and California. He is married to Gina Gallo of E&J Gallo, the largest wine producer in the world.

About Boisset Collection
Boisset is a family-owned collection of historic and unique wineries bound together by a common cause: authentic, terroir-driven wines in harmony with their history, their future and the land and people essential to their existence.  With more than twenty historical and prestigious wineries in the world’s preeminent terroirs, including the Côte d’Or, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, California’s Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, and the Napa Valley. To learn more about the Boisset Collection, please visit

About JCB by Jean-Charles Boisset 
Created by Jean-Charles Boisset, JCB embraces and represents a new height of luxury, uniting the worlds of wine and fashion in luxurious tasting locations and experiences that transcend terroir, reaching beyond the traditional confines of wine to embody style and sophistication. JCB is also a collection of rare numbered wines that unite centuries of Burgundian family tradition with the graceful exploration of sophisticated terroir.  Dedicated to capturing style within a bottle, JCB wines embody an uncompromising personality that transcends the traditional confines of wine and is audacious, unique and mysterious.  St. Helena   ·   Russian River Valley   ·   San Francisco   ·   Yountville     For more information, please visit  

About Raymond Vineyards 
Raymond Vineyards, founded in 1970, comprises more than 330 acres in Rutherford, St. Helena and Jameson Canyon. Five generations of the Raymond family created a Napa icon, with an enduring reputation for elegant wines with a beautiful balance of finesse, power and complexity. Today, guided by the vision of Proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset, Winemaker Stephanie Putnam, and Winegrower Eric Pooler, Raymond Vineyards is one of the wine world’s most dynamic winery destinations. Blending phenomenal wines with guest experiences that unite education, passion and entertainment, the winery offers diverse opportunities to explore wine, leading it to be named Sunset’s “Best Tasting Room – Experience Beyond Tasting” in 2011, 2012 American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast, and one of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2013 for the 95-point rated 2010 Generations Cabernet Sauvignon. Raymond’s estate vineyards are certified organic and Biodynamic, the Napa Green certified winery generates 100% of its energy needs from on-site solar panels, and is additionally certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. To learn more, please visit:

About Buena Vista Winery 
Buena Vista Winery is California’s first premium winery; it was founded in 1857 by Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy, the self-proclaimed “Count of Buena Vista.” Possessing a deep regard for the significance of Buena Vista’s place in California wine history, Jean-Charles Boisset purchased Buena Vista in April, 2011 and added the winery to the Boisset Collection.  Today, Boisset has returned Buena Vista Winery to its original glory with the complete restoration and re-opening of the historic property.  The wines are achieving new heights under Winemaker Brian Maloney and Consulting Winemaker David Ramey. Buena Vista Winery is located at 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma, CA. For more information, please visit

About Wattle Creek Winery 
Since 1994, Wattle Creek Winery has been sharing a passion for wine and life… creating great Sonoma wines, as well as exceptional moments and events, while having a fantastic sense of family, loyalty, and community born from a shared love of wine.  Wattle Creek’s unique style of wines from Alexander Valley is refreshing and inspiring – a new approach that beautifully complements our collection of wineries in Sonoma, Napa and France. To learn more about Wattle Creek Winery, please visit

Friday, August 5, 2016



Hi-Time Wine Cellars is a family-owned retail store located in Costa Mesa, California. Founded by Fritz Hanson and his brother-in-law Jim McVay. Hi-Time opened its cellar doors in 1957  at its original location on 17th and Irvine in Costa Mesa, California. In 1984, the Hanson brothers moved to our present location in Costa Mesa where they built one of the largest underground temperature-controlled wine cellars in the U.S . This 3,000 square foot underground temperature-controlled cellar now includes a selection of 10,000+ wines from many different wineries from all around the world. This selection represents the world's finest growing regions from such diverse areas as California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, South America and Portugal.

The recently re-designed store now has a retail space of 24,000 square feet. We added many new and exotic labels to our selection. Along with our selection of rare wines you will also discover hard-to-find spirits, espcially in the Bourbon and Scotch aisles, and exotic liquors from all over the world. In addition, we offer a comprehensive selection of North American micro-brews along with some of the best beers the rest of the world creates. Our walk-in beer refrigerator offers over 1,200 different beers from 25+ different countries. Our walk-in tobacco humidor holds over 500 different cigar brands and sizes as well as a great selection of pipes and fine pipe tobaccos.  We also offer gourmet foods, specialty chocolates, cheeses and charcuterie.

We are proud to have been able to serve our customers for over half of a century. Our goal is to provide our customers with one of the largest selections of fine wines and rare spirits from all over the world, at competitive prices and without sacrificing the quality of our customer service. We are looking forward to serving you at our store location, over the phone or online.

Fritz Hanson and Jim McVay founded the store in 1957. Jim, unfortunately, passed away many years ago. Shortly after opening the store, Fritz's younger brother Chuck Hanson joined the Hi-Time team. Chuck was interested in wine right away and became the store's primary wine buyer. Most of the business at that time consisted of distilled spirits and jug wines. Chuck remembers the first wines to make a big impression on him were those of Charles Krug and Louis Martini.

Harold Hanson, who was in the military overseas at the time, joined Hi-Time after completing his tour of duty. While in the service in Europe, Harold took pictures of wine caves in Burgundy. Bringing the photos back to his brothers, it was decided that they would build a wine cave within the store. Harold became the General Manger for the store, a position he held for over 40 years.

Our original location (pictured on the left)! Those were the days... the wine cellar and La Cave next door. La Cave is still there but we're up the street a bit. Well, tempus fugit, as they say. Hi-Time moved to our current location in 1984... prior to that, the building we're housed in was a telephone company. The underground wine cellar had to be dug out to provide a home for our wines! The groundbreaking ceremony for our building expansion (the new beer area and shipping) was in 2004. What's next? Who Knows! Stay Tuned!  ***Yes, more construction in the works... pardon our mess as we strive to make our store better! Facelift at 50? Why not! A few years ago Patterson's Beverage Journal honored the Hanson family for Hi-time Wine Cellars with their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Fritz is semi-retired but we always need his help when there's construction to be done... or stocking the liquor shelves during the holidays! Chuck Hanson is still here! Well, at least for a couple days a week he helps keep an eye on the wine department along with keeping up on the latest wines. He knows just about everyone in the California wine industry. Harold has also retired but still stops by a few times a week to check up on things. Today the store is managed by Fritz's oldest daughter Diana Hirst. Both his sons Keith (spirits buyer) and Donnie (clerk) work alongside Diana making Hi-Time the thriving business it is today. Fritz's other daughter Linda is working as an assistant winemaker for Hanzel Winery. Four of Fritz's grandchildren Charlie, Kyle, Jordan and Skylar are working in the store as the 3rd generation of the Hanson family legacy.



In the mid-1970’s, due to a normal teenage interest in alcoholic beverages, my family allowed me to make some wine from the family vineyard and beer at home (under adult supervision, of course). This led to a UC Davis degree as well as concurrent work at a local winery doing the dirtiest and most menial jobs imaginable. In the mid-1980’s good friends at Duxoup Wine Works (think Marx Brothers for the pronunciation) inspired me to try my hand at my own label so I negotiated cellar space in lieu of a raise by my then-current employer, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards in Anderson Valley (I got a raise anyway). Greenwood Ridge was supportive of my project and decided to have some Scherrer Zinfandel produced for their label as well. Unfortunately, I had a poor business plan and during the first year I realized I was not yet ready for this project. Greenwood Ridge continues to make a small amount of Scherrer Vineyard Zinfandel to this day.

Enter Dehlinger Winery in the late 1980’s. Tom Dehlinger was very supportive of my long-term plans and challenged me to develop a solid business plan, facilitating an important entry into my own project. In return, his winery received my heart and soul for a decade. The final key element in our getting started was from my parents. They allowed me to delay paying them for their fine grapes until we began getting cash flow from our wine sales. By 1997, we were ready to make the move to a facility of our own. In anticipation of this, we were able to add Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to supplement the Zinfandel we were producing, all from my father’s vineyard in Alexander Valley. Tom Dehlinger supported this transition of my focus, allowing me to produce these additional wines in his facility and we parted very amicably after that vintage.

And so after the harvest of 1997, I moved our operation to a corner of an apple packing shed-turned-winery, finally leasing the entire building. During this period, our production grew from just the three varietals from Scherrer Vineyard, to now typically a dozen wines, about half of which are Pinot Noir. Total production is now 4000 to 5000 cases. My good friend, Don Bliss helped me whenever I needed a hand (or a finger to dial 911 in the unlikely event of a forklift mistake) throughout this period until he sold his fine vineyard and moved back to his native Texas in 2006. Since then, I have been able to impose on a handful of friends and local customers when I have needed help, but still continue to work at the winery pretty much alone most of the year. Judi, my wife, has handled administrative and compliance for the winery since 2002, keeping me out of trouble with bureaucrats and making sure we are able to conform with the complex and changing world of direct shipping and wholesaling laws, reports and fees.



Internationally traveled winemaker Christian Roguenant is leading the charge as winemaker for True Myth, the latest project from Niven Family Wine Estates, a three-generation, family-owned wine group who pioneered the Edna Valley more than 40 years ago. Christian Roguenant is a true industry veteran having traveled the world to make wine on five continents, including fifteen years with Champagne Deutz, one of the premier Champagne houses in France, and serviced as a consultant to wineries around the world, from Argentina to Australia, and New Zealand to South Korea. Today, Christian enjoys sharing his extensive knowledge of True Myth, a specialty appellation winery that produces wines from regions along California’s Central Coast, focusing on Chardonnay from Edna Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.  Christian can speak to California’s Central Coast winemaking, the Central Coast lifestyle, and food and wine recommendations.

Christian Roguenant was born to make wine. A native of the Burgundy region of France, he grew up surrounded by vineyards. Christian decided early on to become a winemaker, studying enology and winemaking at the University of Dijon. There, he honed his skills early and has since made wine in numerous countries across five continents. The opportunity to make exceptional wines in San Luis Obispo County led him to the Central Coast. He is a Chardonnay master with over 30 vintages under his belt and has been with the Niven Family for over 18 years. When Christian is not crafting our beautiful True Myth wines, he is an avid chef, photographer, and guitar player.

In our location on California’s Central Coast, we are eternally awestruck by the magic of her omnipresent influence; from the dry heat of the vineyards in Paso Robles, to the coastal influence on our vineyards in Edna Valley, our grapes are grown just a few miles from one of her greatest creations, the deep, blue Pacific Ocean. We respect Mother Nature for the enigma that she is, and honor her by creating wines of quality and flavor that mirror her splendor. Join us as we continue on this journey. Taste and Believe.

Jack Niven came to San Luis Obispo in the early 1970s with the vision to plant a vineyard in what was then a valley of dairy farms and garbanzo beans. After working with the top viticulture professors from UC Davis and Fresno State, he determined the perfect location and planted the Paragon Vineyard in 1973. Home to the oldest continually producing Chardonnay vines in the region, the Niven family has owned and farmed this vineyard for more than 40 years. Jack later went on to petition to establish Edna Valley as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1982.

The second and third generations of the Niven family have since continued his legacy. Today their portfolio focuses on exploring the endless potential and diversity in their historic Paragon Vineyard and throughout San Luis Obispo County.

True Myth is a new take on the legacy that was built by Jack Niven. The family is now striving to create a fresh new vision for the longstanding quality of the region.

From Edna Valley’s pioneering Niven family comes a new take on their legacy. They’ve been here since day one - living, breathing, and farming their historic Paragon Vineyard since 1973. Taking advantage of Mother Nature’s gift of rich and fertile soils on the Central Coast of California, our wines seek to delight and inspire, while maintaining the exceptional quality of which the Niven Family has been known for the last 40 years. True Myth presents an authentic experience, which only Mother Nature can express: one of depth, wonder, and a little bit of magic. Taste and Believe.

Over 30 years ago, an incredibly smart and spirited woman planted a 3 acre vineyard on her home property in the Edna Valley. Diving without hesitation into a male-dominated industry, Catharine Niven later set out to create authentic, complex yet elegant wines. Named for the place she met her husband Jack, Baileyana offers beautiful, cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Both are refined, rich, and perfectly balanced. She wasn’t entirely surprised by Baileyana’s early success, but Catharine didn’t dream that her small project would become the family legacy that it is today. Now in the expert hands of the next two generations, Baileyana wines remain true to her pioneering spirit, as well as to the genuine, elegant style she exuded when walking into any room. Boldly Beautiful.