HART & CRU is a concierge-style service focused on selling artisanal wines to avid drinkers through special offers, e-commerce, wine clubs, tastings and more.

ABOUT KEVIN HART

Hart is an experienced sommelier and dedicated student of the vine. He worked the floor at Boca for seven years, eventually becoming sommelier and general manager. Alongside Chef David Falk, he developed his palate for pairing food and wine. He deepened his knowledge of French wines while working with Mobil Four-Star Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel. His stint as sommelier at Pigall’s, a Relais & Chateaux restaurant, impressed upon him the importance of classic styles in the kitchen and in the bottle. After years in the restaurant world, he felt the time was right to take his career to the next level by leveraging his friendships with top wine producers, connoisseurs and obsessives. In 2012, Kevin teamed up with his mentor, Gordon Hue, to grow wineCRAFT, an importing-distributing company based in Cincinnati. With the knowledge and connections gained from wineCRAFT, Kevin decided to return to the then-expanded Boca Restaurant Group. As Beverage Director, he enjoyed a broader platform to express his point of view on quality-crafted wines and he reconnected to his deep love of hospitality and serving people.

In 2015, Hart’s entrepreneurial spirit moved front and center and he launched HART & CRU to focus on bringing wine education, product selection and market expansion to an array of corporate clients. Over the past 5 years, the business has grown to service a growing number of wine enthusiasts, private clients and daily drinkers by offering concierge services—such as bottle selection and delivery, monthly wine clubs, in-person and virtual tastings, private events and cellar management.

I was born in a cornfield in northwest Ohio. Well not actually “in the corn field,” but I spent my childhood a breath away from my grandparents farm, which was filled with fields of fragrant corn and orchards of beautiful apple trees. I won’t pretend to know all the sub soils of that Ohio flat-land; whether it’s loamy clay, schist, marl or limestone, but those apples—the ones my grandmother pressed on her four-acre farm—ultimately shaped my life.

Even after sixteen years of education and eventually design school, I couldn’t get that apple juice off my mind. While working my way through school, I landed in a series of restaurants, each better than the next, until I was simultaneously attending college and working the floor at Boca on nights and weekends. I was chasing old dreams and conjuring new ones: designing cars, furniture and sculpture at the same time I was discovering micro-lot coffee, real, hand-made pasta, working with chefs worth believing in and drinking mind-blowing wines. All of this added up to a deep love of the well-crafted and soulful. Which brings me back to that apple juice: a drinking experience seared in both my mind’s eye and on my palate, and offering a rich story and a sense of place.

For me, wine is about listening to a thousand years of history and realizing that a great bottle represents so much more than simply our best effort. Wine’s complexity, its beauty, is realized through the tension between man and nature. When I taste good wine, I taste handshakes; I taste pruning, degorging, pressing, pinching, breathing. When I taste wine I think of my friends; the self-taught meteorologists, the philosophers who know end-of-harvest-heartbreaks; I think about sitting at Giuseppe Vajra’s kitchen table in Piemonte, I think about his newborn child who will lie down in the vineyard and dream.

In my twenties, I went to Europe and made my way through the Italian countryside leaving a trail of empty bottles and the potent memories of endless walks through the vines. I meandered through Chianti Classico led by an intrepid farmer whose clippings have become clones for 90% of Tuscany. I devoured 18-hour days in Southern France, introducing my lips to thousands of wines. I learned to keep up with legendary wine junkies, soaking up their stories of spilt ’69 Haut-Brion. I stifled fanboy smiles in the presence of France’s Gang of Four, the cherished rebels who saved the soul of Beaujolais from Nouveau's debasement.

I’m not here to tell you what you have to taste. I wouldn’t tell you what books to read, what albums to buy or how to dress well. You already know what you like. I’m here to tell stories. I’m here to be a conduit for wine lovers and farmers, from the earth to the glass. I’m here to cut through thick pretense, allay your fears, and dispel any notions that this divine substance should be intimidating and out-of-reach. I’m here to help you discover your favorite wines and to help you to always drink well.

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“Kevin Hart is helping to change the way consumers think about and experience wine. He is wholeheartedly fighting the good fight about the wine in Mid-America.”

Rajat Parr, Winemaker / Sommelier / Co-author, Secrets of the Sommeliers and The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste

“When Kevin Hart shares wine and the secrets of a place or craft, he is actually igniting a firework of feelings and emotions. His rousing passion and genuine enthusiasm may be second only to his savvy skills and endless research.

There are few people I would want to walk vineyards with as much as this young man. Kevin is truly one of a kind and I wish you will be fortunate enough to embrace a discovery journey with him.”

Giuseppe Vaira, G. D. Vajra 

“Kevin Hart is bringing to Cincinnati a level of wine knowledge and passion that is commensurate with the top professionals in New York, San Francisco and London. He is raising the level of wine professionalism in his city for the benefit of all Ohio wine lovers!”

Jasmine Hirsch, Hirsch Vineyards