Small but Savvy
When he was younger, Alameda vintner John Caracciolo spent his summers either working on a family-run winery in France or helping out at their restaurant in the United States. Present from the vine to the table, Caracciolo learned that wine was meant to complement eating and socializing.
“Wine is not meant to cellar for 10 years,” says Caracciolo. “It is made to enjoy now—life is short.”
With that philosophy in mind, Caracciolo opened Hello Wines on the West End of Alameda in November 2004. The one-man operation specializes in reasonably priced small-batch wines that focus on innovation and artisanship, not labeling or price.
With an output of about 500 to 600 cases a year, Caracciolo is able to work with the small vineyard owners with which big corporations don’t usually deal.
“This is a winery for people who want to get off the beaten path,” says Caracciolo. And Hello Wines’ size allows Caracciolo to maintain a relationship with both the wine and the wine drinker. The wine business is about not only about giving customers the chance to try something different, but also giving them the opportunity to tell the vintner what they think, says Caracciolo.
Keeping in step with wine’s inherently social nature, Hello Wines lends its walls to local artists by sponsoring an art show every first Friday of the month. The art shows give the community an opportunity socialize, taste wine and enjoy art without traveling all the way to Sonoma and Napa counties, he says.
Thirsty for something new? Caracciolo’s wines, which range from $9 to $12, can be tasted and purchased at Hello Wines, 2900 Main St., in Alameda. The winery is open for free wine-tasting Friday through Sunday, noon to 7 p.m., or by appointment Monday through Thursday. (510) 522-5700.