It took a year and a half, but Mike Kohne and Maura Cooper have finally hung the “Open” sign on the door of Crave Wine Bar & Shop in downtown Hollister.
The two, who have an extensive background in the wine industry, began this project in July 2021, with the intent to showcase local wines and brews, but they also have quite a significant selection of wines from around the globe, including grower Champagnes. The fact they were dealing with an historic building proved a huge challenge and led to exasperating delays.
But they persevered, through Covid-19, supply chain issues and bureaucracy, and finally received their building permit at the end of September. At that point, they were able to install all the plumbing, floors and walls, get hot water to the restrooms and put up all their cabinets and racking systems.
While they navigated all the red tape, though, Kohne and Cooper took orders over the phone and online, and provided pickup and local delivery, encouraging farmers market shoppers to place orders for pickup on Wednesdays.
Finally, though, things came together. Kohne was ecstatic to finally unload the garage of all the tables and chairs that had been sitting there for well over a year.
Crave officially opened on Dec. 28, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, with extended hours on Saturday and Sunday, to 8pm. Their license stipulates that no one under 21 is allowed on the premises.
Kohne and Cooper are both locals and veterans of the wine industry. Kohne has two decades of experience in wine sales and marketing at places such as Mercy Vineyards (Carmel Valley Village), where he was also general manager and minority owner; and Eden Rift, an historic winery and vineyard on Cienega Road in Hollister, where he was marketing and sales director. Earlier in his career, he worked for Beringer, Diageo, Rosenblum Cellars, Foley and Lincourt. He founded Future Wine Consulting before conceiving of the idea of a wine shop with Cooper, who has also worked for several local Cienega Valley wineries, including Pietra Santa (which became Eden Rift), then Eden Rift and Calera (now owned by Duckhorn).
Crave plans a grand opening some time in February. There will be plenty of events, including Thursday evening winery hosted tastings from 6:30-7:30pm. Currently scheduled are CRU Winery for Feb. 2, and a “Galentine” Sip & Shop on Feb. 9. A wine dinner in March is in the works with Bernardus Winery.
Crave offers at least 10 wines by the glass, including five whites and five reds, plus rosé and bubbles, all priced between $11 and $20 per glass.
“Likely we’ll have 14 to 15 wines open for by the glass pours,” Kohne said. “We are featuring local producers, but we also have imports as well, to provide diversity.”
Check out the Aligote from Bourgogne and the Garrault Sancerre. They also stock Olivier Leflaive white Burgundy.
“Right now, we are carrying Mayacamas and Ramey Chardonnay at the high end, along with some fun imports,” Kohne said.
Crave features Champagnes from Deutz and Gimonnet, along with Caraccioli and Gruet sparklings, plus CRU’s Albarino, Precedent Chenin Blanc from Massa Vineyard made by Nathan Kandler, and Bonny Doon’s Picpoul.
“We also pour Terraces Pinot Gris from Eden Rift and Ryan Stirm’s Calacite white blend,” Kohne added.
They also feature wines from local favorites Calera, Chalone, Ser, Kobza, Morgan, and I. Brand wines. Kohne says people love Ian Brand’s Le P’tit Paysan Cabernet Sauvignon from Wheeler Vineyard in Tres Pinos, which is part of the Siletto Family’s holdings.
Kohne enjoys showcasing wines from producers who source locally, but who might not have tasting rooms in the area, like Ryme Cellars (Forestville). Crave just brought in the Ryme Cellars Sagrantino from San Benito’s Siletto Vineyard, as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon from Massa Vineyard in Cachaugua.
“Did you know that 80% of grapes grown here leave the county? We want to shine a light on what leaves and how it’s reflecting the quality of what’s being produced here,” Kohne said.
Crave offers three different wine clubs, including The 20 Club, which focuses on wines sourced or vinified within a 20-mile radius of Hollister. Alternatively, The Crave Club offers two bottles every other month for $44.99 and the Atlas Club features six bottles of treasures from around the globe, as well as local ones, three times yearly, for $199.99. Club members also receive discounts on tasting flights, food, wines by the glass as well as complimentary corkage. Any bottle can be purchased from the shelf and opened for a $15 corkage fee.
Crave also stocks a dozen beers in cans and bottles, plus non-alcoholic beverages, and a selection of vintage Ports.
“We carry selections you will not find in a grocery store,” Kohne said.
Food currently includes charcuterie boards. They are working with local chefs to do more elevated offerings. There are three different seating areas inside, including high tops, a bar that can seat 10, lounge-type furniture in the front and low profile chairs. The capacity is about 40 total seated. While there is no outdoor seating right now, Kohne says it will come eventually. In fact, he hopes to be open seven days a week once summer comes.
Crave Wine Bar & Shop is located at 616 San Benito St. in Hollister. For information, visit cravewineco.com.