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Staff Picks

Hi-Time Wine Cellars Staff Picks

Diana Hirst

Diana Hirst - General Manager

Diana counts herself "lucky" to have been born into the "family business" that is Hi-Time Wine Cellars. Her mom and dad (Ida & Fritz) started Hi-Time in 1957 but let her wait until the seasoned age of six years before they had her dusting shelves and bagging ice. Diana's brothers, Keith and Don, as well as her sons and, over the years, various nieces, nephews and cousins, also work or have worked at Hi-Time, truly making it a family store.

Diana was the spirits buyer for ten years and, after training with her uncle and former General Manager Harold Hanson, moved into the chief management position at the store in the early years of the new millenium. She has traveled throughout California, Spain, Argentina and South Africa, spending time in the various wine regions tasting and sightseeing (including spending time visiting with her winemaker sister Lynda Hanson, currently Associate Winemaker at Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma, CA).

"We hope you enjoy visiting us here at Hi-Time Wine Cellars and shopping online. Thank you from all of our family."


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Chuck Hanson

Chuck Hanson - Wine Buyer / Sales / Department Manage

Chuck Hanson is one of the founding father's of Hi-Time Wine Cellars joining the team in 1957 shorlty after it opened. Chuck became 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 that the first wines to make a big impression on him were those of Charles Krug and Louis Martini.

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Jim Duane

Jim Duane (a.k.a. Bubblehead) - Champagne Buyer / Sales
WSET Certified

My first real wine epiphany was back in the 1970's when I received a humble Leonard Kreusch Zeller Schwarze Katz Riesling as twentieth birthday present. It was just so darn tasty (it blew away the Annie Green Springs that I was used to) that I became obsessed with learning all I could about wine. A few years latter I joined the Hi-Time wine department for the first time and was tutored by master palate, Chuck Hanson, on tasting wine systematically. I left Hi-Time in 1984 for an eleven-year sojourn as wholesale wine rep. A highlight of this period was a decade long association with Schramsberg Vineyards where I gained valuable insights into the realm of sparkling wine production. I returned to Hi-Time in 1995 and soon took over responsibility for the store's sparkling and fortified wine sales. In the line of duty I have made several trips to Champagne along with visits to Burgundy and Bordeaux. Last year I traveled to Portugal's spectacular Douro Valley where I saw first hand the painstaking effort and ingenuity that goes into crafting vintage Port. This past summer I received my WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits . Outside of the wine scene I enjoy playing tennis and skiing.

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Josh Hoover

Josh Hoover - Operations Manager / French Wine Buyer / Sales

Josh first worked at Hi-Time from 1994 to 1997 then, after a brief touring break, came back to the wine world in 1999 and has been an integral part of our staff ever since. He has worked and knows every job on the floor (except gift baskets) and currently is Hi-Time's Operations Manager and French Wine Buyer. His knowledge of the store, Hoover explained, is simple: "I've been in this building my entire adult life!"

Over the last three years he has had the opportunity to travel throughout Bordeaux and Burgundy furthering his knowledge and appreciation of French wine. One of the direct benefits of his journeying is the friends he has made along the way-- and the many winemakers from France we've been able to host at our wine bar. He has also been instrumental in procuring a number of vintage cellars, bringing top-tier, provenanced French wines home to our climate-controlled cellar.

Josh has also, with his friends and co-band members, headlined the Hi-Time Charity Chili Cook-off twice, gracing the main stage with his singing and guitar playing acumen, turning the knobs, as rock veteran Nigel Tufnel would say, "...to 11."

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Patty Quick Patty Quick - Spain, South America, South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Australia, New Zealand Wine Buyer / Sales

Patty began working on the Hi-Time wine staff in 1998. She is the Spainish, South American, Italian, Australian, New Zealnd and South African wine buyer. Her travels to these countries give her such passion for knowledge and a great appreciation for their wine, land and its people. One of her fortes is wine and food parings with 20 years experience in restaurants ending in Orange County at Gulliver's and the Ritz Restaurant in the late 80's early 90's. "I have a wonderful career at Hi-Time Wine Cellars . I always enjoy facilitating people's choices with wine. The best things in life are wine, food and sharing with the people you love."    

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Dan Williams

Dan Williams - North America Wine Buyer / Sale
C.S.W. (Certified Specialist of Wine)

Dan's bio is coming soon!    

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Gail Roberts

Gail Roberts - Wine Sales

Gail's roots in the wine business started at a time in her life when she had a very sick son-- a close friend suggested she "...go and do something you love." She knew what it was immediately and has been in the industry ever since (20+ years). At Hi-Time, Gail specializes in wine sales, both on the floor and over the phone, as well as designing and leading custom tastings for a variety of clients and groups, either in-store at our wine bar or on their premises.

She has learned from many professionals in the industry including those with excellent knowledge and impeccable palates. Gail has spent time working the grape crush and bottling, tasting and conversing with winemakers and passionate collectors, enjoying the incredible journey that is the wine world. Along the way she has traveled throughout many renowned wine regions in Europe (Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, Rhône and up and down Italy) meeting many famous producers of some of the world's best wines.

About the future, Gail states: "I have plans to head for Spain and many other regions if all goes well, hoping to further my knowledge in order to help make the wine experience for others both fun and educational."


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Beate Guetlhuber - Wine Sales

Beate's bio is coming soon!

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Zach Korhonen

Zach Korhonen - Wine Sales

Zach has been a valued asset here at Hi-Time Wine Cellars since the fall of 2003. Starting as a cashier, he quickly established himself as one of our ďgo toĒ Liquor Specialists working closely with Trayce Holliday and Keith Hanson.ÖIt is rumored Zach drank Single Malt Scotch nightly for over 3 months just to develop a Palate for that particular Distilled SpiritÖ.   During the first couple years of employment here, Zach began to develop a taste for wine but it was his work ethic that landed him a spot on one of  the most coveted positions here at Hi-Time, California Wine Staff!

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Todd Johnston Todd Johnston - Wine Bar Manager / Wine Sales

Iím an Aquarius; I like movies, long walks on the beach and puppies. Donít ask me about the wines I drink because you wonít like them. Sarcasm is my first language. I also speak Spanish, French and Trafalmadorian. If you want to get a hold of me donít call me, you can find me in the Wine bar Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I am the resident Gourmet, kind of like a young Anthony Bourdain. If you have questions about Food and Wine pairings, Artisanal Cheeses, Cured Meats or Quadratic Equations, Iím your man. If I pick on you in the wine bar, itís only because I like you. I currently attend CSULB studying Ecology, Landscape Restoration and Environmental Sciences. My KTM goes faster than Zackís CRF 450, just ask him.

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Ann Stephens Ann Stephens - Greek and Eastern European Wine Buyer / Sales

When wine staff member Ann Doyle Stephens went to college (UC Irvine) she planned to teach high school English and Social Studies. She says that seven years of teaching drove her to drink so she joined Hi-Time's team in the late spring of 1980. She now has over 30 years experience in both wholesale and retail wine sales. She is the Eastern European and Greek Wine Buyer for Hi-Time and runs our Wine Club program.

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Veronica Castro Veronica Castro - Germany/Austria/Sake Wine Buyer / Wine Sales
WSET Certified

Veronica went to Hunter College in NYC and received her BA in Psychology from CSUSB. She earned her Certified Specialist of Wine designation from The Society of Wine Educators. She also received the Intermediate Award from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and became a Spanish Wine Educator from The Wine Academy of Spain. She enjoys cooking, writing, loves Champagne, Riojas, and German Riesling.

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Gary Faust - Wine Sales
WSET Certified

Gary came to Hi Time Wine Cellars after a successful career in Law Enforcement. He was fortunate to follow his passion as a police officer and found helping others was very rewarding. Now, he is fortunate to be able to indulge another passion of his, which is wine!

Gary received the Advanced certification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and is continuing his education to deepen his knowledge. He enjoys wine from around the world with a particular appreciation for imported wine.

Gary enjoys helping people find that special bottle or plan celebratory events. He feels lucky to be surrounded by knowledgeable staff and the positive atmosphere at Hi-Time.

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Gabe Barakat - Wine Sales

I struck gold when I met my wife ten years ago. She is whom I credit for introducing me to fine wine. Between her Dad, her old boss, & her Uncle Iíve been afforded the luxury of tasting many top producers from all around the world. These experiences have helped me refine my palate at a young age. Since then my passion and enthusiasm for wine has led me to attending wine school where I further honed in on my skills studying under Master Sommelier Peter Neptune. This ultimately helped blaze my trail to the wine department at one of the top wine shops on the PLANET. Here at Hi-Time Wine Cellars Iím a wine consultant where I truly enjoy introducing our customers to new producers/varietals. Furthering their experiences with wine is something I take great pride in. To me wine is much more then just a libation, its a journey that takes a lifetime to truly comprehend.

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Keith Hanson Keith Hanson - Spirits Buyer / Sales

Keith Hanson, son of co-founder, Fritz Hanson, has been involved in the family business ever since his father taught him the difference between silver, reposado, and anejo. For the past 20 years, Keith has been the head liquor buyer.

While not in the store he is an avid duck-hunter and fisherman. He spends several weeks each summer at a family cabin up on the Trinity River where he and his father among other relatives travel for prime salmon and steelhead fishing. He has been married for 25 years to his wife Tracy who also works at Hi-Time. Their two children Jordan and Skylar, both Newport Harbor High graduates, can also be found working and helping out at the family business when not in school at OCC and UC Irvine.

Keith's go to drink would have to be tequila, cranberry, and agave. Come in and say Hi to Keith...he'll be sure to give you an excellent recommendation!

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Matt Link

Matt Link - Beer Buyer / Manager

Matt's bio is coming soon.

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Don Fox - Beer & Spirit Sales / Manager

Don Fox Cicerone certified beer server-  Hybrid New Yorker/ Californian. Lover of salt beer and cocktails. The younger more attractive half brother of Todd.

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Fernando Ruvalcaba - Beer & Spirit Sales

Fernando's bio is coming soon.

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Jordan Hanson Jordan Hanson - Soda Buyer / Sales

Jordan Hanson, grandson of co-founder, Fritz and son of liquor buyer, Keith, is very interested in working his way up to running the family business. Since he turned 21 in June 2011, Jordan expanded his knowledge of spirits by joining his father at tastings and demoing products brought in by sales reps. One of his many jobs includes being the specialty soda buyer. He helps customers obtain some of the most unique products in the market today. When not at work or in school, Jordan enjoys wakeboarding, snowboarding, Hunting, Shooting and visiting breweries with his friends. Jordan's drink of choice is ginger beer and rum.

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Tobin Sharp Tobin Sharp - Creative Director

Tobin started at Hi-Time in the fall of 1995 in the Smoke Shack. He clawed his way upward, eventually naming himself Creative Director, overseeing much of the marketing and advertising for the company. He is equally fond of and reasonably knowledgable with wine, spirits, beers and cigars, having spent the last 20+ years taste-testing quite a multitude of them in a variety of scenarios and establishments. Dashingly handsome, impeccably witty and with quite a singing voice to go along with his everyman "aw, shucks" modesty, Mr. Sharp also oversaw many of the biographies written for this website.

Tobin's formal education is in English, with a B.A. in that area and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, both from Chapman University. In his younger days he spent 11 summers working at Camp Emerald Bay, a Boy Scout camp on Santa Catalina Island, the last four summers as Camp Director.  

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Sean Kinney Sean Kinney - IT Manager / Webmaster

Sean began working on the Hi-Time staff in 1999. He is the IT Manager and Webmaster. He has a Business Degree from Cal State Long Beach. Outside of work he enjoys riding motorcycles, wakeboarding and snowboarding.

Hi-Time Wine Cellars Staff Picks