Eat Drink Savor

Eat, Drink, Savor: Crave Wine Company opens its doors

Mike Kohne and Maura Cooper aim to spotlight the wines of San Benito County.
Wines at Crave Wine Co. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Wines at Crave Wine Co. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Kobza Red Field Blend. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Kobza Red Field Blend. Photo by Robert Eliason.

After around a year of construction delays, Crave Wine Company opened on Jan. 6 following a short series of well-attended soft openings and ticketed events. A welcome addition to the local beverage scene on San Benito Street in Hollister that was established by Pour Decisions Taproom and Mad Pursuit Brewing Company, Crave owners Mike Kohne and Maura Cooper are determined to spotlight the best produced and sourced wines coming from San Benito County. 

Happy to have the complications behind them, Kohne and Cooper have assembled a clientele through the people who kept the idea of Crave alive by joining its wine clubs and by offering what help they could. This  was no better illustrated than when, overwhelmed by customers on a recent busy evening, one of the premiere winemakers in the county stepped behind their counter to help pour.

“We’ve had a really wonderful response,” Cooper said. “We’ve met so many great people already, and we’ve been supported by so many friends. People were waiting for us to open, and we have seen a lot of enthusiasm from them. The customers have been sharing stories about the wines they love, and we are turning into a cool little community.”

Now that they are officially open, they can more easily hold themed events or bring in winemakers to discuss their craft as part of a weekly Thursday program. Such was the case when they gathered Jan. 26 for the event titled Old World vs. New World.

Kohne said before the event, “The difference between old world versus new world wines is a never-ending topic. We will look at sauvignon blanc from three different places: New Zealand where it’s obviously a mainstay, Sancerre, and one from around here. Then we will do the same thing with Bordeaux: a Left Bank and a Right Bank from Bordeaux, an Argentinian Bordeaux blend, and one from Bernardus in the Carmel Valley. It will be fun.”

The next event scheduled for Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m., will highlight the Santa Lucia Highlands-based CRŪ winery and feature their 2020 Albarino, 2020 Chardonnay, 2021 Pinot Noir, 2018 Pinot Noir, and 2020 GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through Crave’s website.

Crave also offers three wine clubs that focus on different interests. 

The first is the “Crave Club” (two bottles for $44.99, every other month) which includes their newest and most unique discoveries.

“This is our frequency club, and everything is line price,” Kohne said. “We hope it gets people to come into the shop to come hang out with us and try different things.”

The second club is the “Atlas” (six bottles for $199.99, three times a year) which includes a mix of local, national, and international wines. 

“I’ll probably have a few bottles from California,” he said. “But this is where we might get up to Oregon, different European countries, and South America.”

The third club is one geared to San Benito County wine aficionados. The “20” (three or four bottles for $114.99, quarterly) emphasizes wines produced or sourced within 20 miles of Hollister.

“It’s a play on the old CB radio talk, ‘What’s your 20? What’s your location?’” he said. “It’s kind of a double entendre that’s location-based. It’s mostly going to be San Benito if we can, and wines from the Santa Lucia Islands, the Santa Cruz mountains, and Monterey Bay.”


Wines offered by Crave Wine Company

2021 Maître de Chai Wheeler Vineyard Chardonnay – Sourced by Berkeley’s Maître de Chai from 40-year-old vines at San Benito County’s Siletto Family Vineyard, this unfiltered chardonnay has a raspberry jam aroma, and a delicate, almost ephemeral taste. The tannins are light, almost dusty, and the finish is long, lingering, and smooth. “When we first started here procuring wine for Crave, we got a Cab that they do from a vineyard in Carmel Valley that was planted in the late 60s,” Kohne said. “Then we saw that they had started working with fruit from here in San Benito and of course, we jumped on it.”

2021 I. Brand & Family Arnies – Owned by Healdsburg’s Williams Selyem, the Vista Verde Vineyard outside of Paicines is the source for the grapes used by master winemaker Ian Brand. A floral fragrance and a citrusy and crisp taste and great acidity, it is so light and delicate you would want to pair it with something that does not overwhelm, perhaps some Camembert cheese spread with blueberry preserves or shortbread cookies.

2021 Ryme Cellars Sangrantino – Naturally fermented in open-top fermenters and then aged in neutral oak for nine months, this is also sourced from the Siletto Family Vineyard, where founder Ron Siletto had a penchant for Italian varietals. The aroma is of lavender and charcoal with a savory, slightly sweet, slightly peppery taste with balanced tannins. This would do nicely with grilled mushrooms on toast with roasted garlic or just some good old-fashioned rigatoni and red sauce. 

2020 adroît Gamay – Another wine sourced from Siletto, adroît is a passion project of Chris Miller, the winemaker for Seabold Cellars. “He does pinots and chardonnays with Seabold,” Kohne said, “but this is the kind of fun stuff he gets up to on his own. It’s whole cluster with native yeasts, just showing off the vineyard side of it all.” It has an enticingly fruity aroma and a superbly dense body with modest acidity balancing the light tannins. This would pair well with grilled chicken and roasted root vegetables or medium-rare Santa Maria tri-tip. 

2019 Kobza Wines Red Field Blend – Sourced from the original 1903 block at Wirz Vineyard, Kobza describes this as a ”117-year-old vine mix of Mourvedre, Zinfandel, Rose of Peru, Mourtaou, and an occasional Palomino cluster.”  The taste is vibrant and subtle, dark chocolate and bright fruit, with an aroma of strawberries  “There is very little manipulation in this wine,” Kohne said. “Ryan really just wants the vines to shine through.” I am fond of Ryan Kobza’s wine, and this one really does shine—it is my pick from the tasting at Crave. 


Recommendations for future Eat, Drink, Savor articles can be emailed to [email protected]

BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market, for helping to expand the Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.


Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.