THE HOBO WINE COMPANY is the brainchild, side job, menace to the wine industry, hedged bet, cash strain, mental anguish, late night musing, bruised hands, dirty t-shirts, and constant companion of Kenny Likitprakong. Despite knowing better, he started his own label in 2002 with the simple idea to have some good fun.
Kenny Likitprakong on Hobo in 2004
The question always comes up, “Why Hobo?” A friend in the wine industry once told me that he figured the hobo name came from the fact that I was about the dirtiest winemaker he knew. The part about me being the dirtiest winemaker might be true, but it is not where the name came from. It’s partly a trip I’m on about a dead American era and partly about the fact that I don’t own a winery or any vineyards. If you are looking for estate bottled wines, you have come to the wrong place.
Hobo is my tribute and homage to a freedom and an era that I grew up romanticizing. I think I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties chasing the rambling ways of the American Hobo. When I was seventeen I started traveling around, listening to Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen and the likes, seeing the different parts of the country and other countries, writing in journals and taking photos and didn’t really stop until I was twenty-three or twenty-four. As the experiences racked up, I found out that the hoboes had disappeared. The hobo had become a relic in the story of our expanding country. Like all good heroes, I figured they deserved their place in history and on wine bottles.
Instead of becoming a hobo, I became a “Hobo Winemaker.” Of the two ways to make wine, with and without money, the first should probably be the only, but a few of us slip through the cracks and do it on the skinny. No winery, no vineyards, no truck, no warehouse, no employees…nothing. There are advantages. Making small lots comes naturally, the flexability to pick and choose grape type, vineyard, appellation, and winery on an ongoing basis, and a larger circle of people involved which means more ideas and expertise.
I crushed the first grapes in 2002 at Hallcrest Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That year I made the Dry Creek Zinfandel and the Dry Creek Port. Before that, I was moonshining in the kitchen under the name Cote du Fumier. Cote du Fumier means something like banks of compost (banks of shit). It’s a joke, but its literal too. I was making this Yolo County blend from the Student Organic Farm at UC Davis and the vineyard is next to the rows of compost. The rest of it was kind of just a joke about the Cote d’Or and the Cote du Rhone and the French in general. Now, 2004, we are 3 vintages into it and producing about 500 cases a year.
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