Our Story

The Original Wine Cellar

Hi-Time Wine Cellars 60+ Years in Business!

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 the cellar doors in 1957 at our original location on 17th and Irvine in Costa Mesa, California. In 1984, we moved to our nearby Ogle Street location in Costa Mesa where we built one of the largest underground temperature-controlled wine cellars in the U.S. Truly a family operation, you'll find three generations working at the store on any given day, as well as a dedicated and knowledgeable staff, many who've been with the store for 20 years or more.

Our 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 such diverse areas as California, Oregon, Washington, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, South America and Portugal. Our family expanded the store around 13 years ago, adding a new storage area, designated shipping space and extra room for both a walk-in beer 'showcase' and separate keg facility; We now has a retail space of 24,000 square feet. Over the years, our family added many new and exotic labels to our selection. Along with the variety of rare wines you will also discover hard-to-find spirits, especially in the Bourbon and Scotch aisles, and exotic liquors from all over the world. In addition, the comprehensive selection of North American micro-brews, along with some of the best beers the rest of the world, makes quite a hop-filled diversion. The newish walk-in beer refrigerator offers over 1,200 different beers from 25+ different countries. Another walk-in, this time their cigar humidor, holds over 500 different cigar brands and sizes, while the rest of our tobacconist wing (the Smoke Shack) houses a great selection of pipes and fine pipe tobaccos. Adding to the palette of choices for all palates, 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. Thank you for your continued support of Hi-Time Wine Cellars where fine wines, spirits and beer are handled with the care they deserve.

Store HistoryThe Hanson Brothers

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. In those days, they often had to make the drive to Napa to procure wines for the shop.

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.

Harold retired a few years back but Chuck still works 2 days a week and Fritz (when he's not up at his Northern California cabin, fishing the local river) will help his grandson Charles (Internet Sales, Bourbon Specialist) pull orders now and then.

It's the second generation mostly running the store these days (Fritz and his lovely wife Ida have four children, three of which help out with the store while the fourth is a winemaker). Diana is the General Manager while her brother Keith is the Spirits Buyer and brother Don helps with maintaining the grounds. Keith's wife Tracy heads our Chocolatier and Gourmet Foods department while her son Jordan is the Specialty Beverage Buyer. Lynda Hanson is the associate winemaker at Hanzell Vineyards, which Hi-Time carries.


Locale Flavor!

Our own Chuck and Harold Hanson were interviewed by Locale Magazine Publisher and long-time Hi-Time friend Erik Hale-- who first interviewed them for the magazine around ten years ago. Well, things have changed over the years and Erik takes the brothers around town in his Fletcher Jones Mercedes-Benz mobile podcast studio-- with excellent results! Hear about the old days of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and the original Hi-Time Wine Cellars on 17th Street and find out some interesting (and pretty darn funny!) stories about the origins of Hi-Time and the family and people who’ve kept it going all these years. Huge thanks and shout-out to Erik and his team for their fantastic work! Find out more about Locale: localemagazine.com or Instagram @LocaleMagazine.

Watch the Locale Video of Chuck and Harold Hanson


John Wayne was a regular at the old store and some of his children still shop here. His son Ethan created a Duke Bourbon to honor his father and the type of whiskey he liked, which Hi-Time sells. NBA stars, like Kobe Bryant and Dennis Rodman, have shopped here along with NFL stars, like Drew Bledsoe and Tony Gonzalez. We've had many special guests over the years, representing a multitude of brands, people like: James Worthy, Bill Walton, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, Kathy Lee Gifford, Vince Neil, Geoff Tate, Fuzzy Zoeller and Joe Bastianich. We've had master distillers from Scotland, terroir specialists from Burgundy, winemakers from all over California, Bordeaux, Italy, Oregon, Washington, Germany, Portugal, just about every corner of the wine world stop by the store to lead tastings or classes. With the explosion in craft beers, we've been fortunate to meet many local and not-so-local brewers and taste and carry their beers. Our sake selection is small but focused.

Hi-Time's Wine Bar

Wine Bar

At the entrance to our wine cellar stands the wine bar area, which offers wine tastings on 3 nights of the week while offering monthly and/or periodic classes, beer tastings, sake tastings and other special events.


Our website is a full-service e-commerce destination offering all of our wares online. We offer national and international shipping (where legal). At 60+ years young, we offer the best as a destination 'brick and mortar' shop or online ordering portal. Whether it's a 60-year-old bottle of Armagnac or 200 corporate gift baskets, the newest cigars or craft beer, chocolates or cheeses, or maybe a hard-to-find grower-producer Champagne, Hi-Time Wine Cellars is here for you.