Get the Dirt from Mikael Sigouin of Kaena Wine Co.

9 Feb

Established in 2001 Kaena has been making some of the areas finest Grenache and Rhone blends with vineyards within the Ballard Canyon area. Named on of the most promising producers by Wine Spectator Magazine. Focus is on small lot hand crafted wines that show distinction and sense of place.

1. What was your first vintage year? 2001

2. Do you have a Tasting Room? If Yes/Hours? 

Our Tasting Room is located at 2890 Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, CA. We are open daily 12noon-5pm and by appointment via e-mail or phone.

3. How did you get your start in the winemaking business?

I started with Beckmen Vineyards as a harvest grunt October 4th 1999 exactly 3 years to the day I moved away from my home town in Honolulu. I am now the winemaker for Beckmen Vineyards.

4. What wine made you want to become a winemaker/start your own winery?

I wanted to make wines for myself and to work with my love “Grenache” to create wines that go great with the foods I grew up with in Hawaii.

5. What varietals do you work with? Which varietal/wine is your favorite to make? Why?

Grenache because it is the hardest grape to work with but give me the most reward in the end. I work with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier

6. What vineyards do you source from? Why?  

I buy by the acre from Tierra Alta and Larner Vineyards in Ballard canyon for Grenache and Syrah. There is also a new vineyard of Grenache planted for Kaena in the Ballard area called Vie Caprice. I also work with La Presa, Camp 4, and Estelle vineyards. Ballard Canyon Rocks!

7. What type of oak treatment do you use? Why?

I use neutral French oak for the white wines and seasoned 1-5 year old French Oak for the Grenache and Hapa because I want to show the true varietal character of the grape and the essence of the vineyard.

8. What do you love about your winemaking region? What makes it different special? What region would be your second choice?

I love working in the Ballard Canyon area because of the two major soil types, limestone/clay and sandy soils. Larner Vineyard is sandy allowing for high water stress creating very intense berries. Tierra Alta is limestone/clay which creates high toned aromas and great minerality. I think our SYV is truly unique because of the true east west mountain range creating cool night and balancing the vines natural acidity. If I could make wine in another region it would be in the Sonoma coast because of the diversity.

9. What’s the story behind your name/label?

I part Hawaiian born and raised in Honolulu.  The name Kaena is my given Hawaiian name by my Tutu (Great grandmother) who had the biggest influence in my life and made me the man I am today. The name Kaena is short for Ka’ena’ai which means potential for greatness. Kaena is what Tutu called me on a daily basis it means “proud” of which I am very when it comes to my wines

10. What’s the biggest misconception about making wine in California?

That it is all glamour. It’s incredibly hard work.

11. What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you about the wine business before you started your own winery?

Open a tasting room ASAP!

12. We’re curious…do you even get tired of drinking your own wine?

I love my own wine but when I buy I never buy domestic. I shop CDP, Priorat, Alsace, Loire, Italy and Austrailia.

13. Is it considered bad form to dip into your inventory?


14. If working in the wine industry wasn’t an option, what’s your other dream job? Do you still have a day job?

My day job thankfully is my dream job as winemaker for Beckmen but if I wasn’t making wine I would probably be putting out fires and saving lives as a Fireman.

15. What piece of winemaking equipment is the most fun to use? The hardest? Most necessary?

Most fun would be our vibrating destemmer. Hardest and most necessary is our Seitz cross flow filter. She is a she and it’s the only piece of equipment I caress and kiss because if I take care of her, she takes care of me.

To learn more about Kaena wines visit their website or follow them via FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

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