The words “happy hour” tend to get people excited. It’s that time of the day after work when folks can unwind and forget about their stress at bargain rates. Conjuring visions of discount cocktails and half-priced appetizers, happy hour helps people make it through the grueling office day with a gastronomic treat at the end. Take all of that excitement and pleasure and bottle it up and it turns into Happy Hour Wine Co.
Launched by Kristin Jolley and her husband Stephen, Happy Hour Wine Co. is a range of approachable, easy-drinking wines for under $10 that fit perfectly into the delicious reward for a bargain scenario. How did they acquire such a popular name? After a bit of interesting negotiation with the previous owner of the “Happy Hour” trademark, Kristin and Stephen got the name and set off on their journey of affordable wine for the enjoyment of everyone. They currently offer a Happy Hour White made with chardonnay, and a Happy Hour Red, crafted with a blend cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and petit verdot.
PACIFIC recently chatted with Kristin about the inspiration for the company’s retro labels, where San Diegans can find the wines, and her message for new and experienced wine drinkers:
PACIFIC: What is the inspiration behind the retro label, with the man flanked on either side by women?
Kristin Jolly: (The term) happy hour has been around for so long, so we wanted the label to have a retro feel to it. It’s all about people out, having fun, enjoying happy hour. The circle around (the logo) is an analog clock and we added a colon in between happy:hour to symbolize a digital clock, making it happy hour, any hour.
What was it like to get accepted into prestigious chains like Whole Foods?
It’s an honor. The first time you see the product you’ve worked so hard to create in such beloved locations, it takes your breath away. And it never gets old, no matter how many new places we launch in.
Where can San Diegans find your wine in restaurants and bars?
You can buy Happy Hour at Whole Foods, select Vons, Mission Hills Wine Cellar, Valley Farms Market, Sprouts in Chula Vista and Eastlake, Stump’s, Keil’s, Iowa Meat Farms, Primo Foods and growing every day.
Your personal favorite grape?
Chardonnay. The reason it’s my favorite is that you can end up with so many different versions of it. Oaky, buttery, crisp, refreshing — it’s all up to the winemaker on how they treat the wine, and it can turn out to be completely different because of it. I personally like chardonnay crisp and refreshing which is what Happy Hour is — easy to drink on its own and doesn’t overpower food. That’s the best combo to me.
What’s your message to wine drinkers — the new and the experienced?
Explore. If you’ve been buying the same wine for years, change it up. You may find you surprisingly like something completely different. Also, don’t let the price or a label fool you as you never know the quality inside until you try it. Wine is subjective, which is much of its beauty and it’s all about finding the wine that suits you and the occasion in which you may be serving it.
If someone is starting out with Happy Hour, which one should they pick?
For me, it’s all about weather and any food I might be pairing with it. If it’s hot out, I want a cold Happy Hour Chardonnay and I’ll pair it with seafood, chicken or a salad. If it’s cooler out, I want Happy Hour Red blend and pair it with tomato based pasta dishes, red meat or even just have it with some chocolate!
What’s up next for Happy Hour?
We are distributed in 23 states now and growing. It’s been a crazy, fun year growing Happy Hour and we want to see it continue to thrive across the country with expanded distribution.