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the decision

the decision

The Wine Down - Mikael Sigouin of Kaena Wine Company Inspired by Grenache & The Taste of Hawaii

4y ago


Bridging the quality of excellent California Winemaking with the personable and relaxed attitude of his native Hawaii, Mikael Sigouin joins the Wine Down to talk us through the journey that led him to the vineyards. We discuss his love of Grenache, his first press through cheesecloth, and an influential early meeting he had with Frances Ford Coppola. A very relaxed and funny conversation that is the antidote for stuffiness that can accompany excellence from the vine. As they say in Hawaii, "Shoots!" GUEST BIO: Mikael Sigouin took the reigns as the assistant winemaker for Beckmen Vineyards in 2001. H took on a true passion for Grenache working with the amazing fruit coming off Beckmen's Purisima Mountain Vineyard. He worked with Beckmen until the summer of 2005 when he took a position as the associate winemaker for Fess Parker. After about two years with Fess Parker I was invited back to Beckmen Vineyards as head winemaker in the winter of 2007. Mikael started his own label Kaena in 2001, starting out with only three barrels of wine and has since grown to an annual production of 500 cases with a focus on Grenache. The name Kaena is his given Hawaiian name which means "potential for greatness". ADD'L LINKS: EPISODE BREAKDOWN: 00:01 Wine Down Intro. 00:46 Introducing Mikael Sigouin. 01:46 "How did your connection to Hawaii influence your wine making?" 02:52 Flavor profiles and matching them to wine production. 03:48 Working his first harvest. 05:29 "Is there a wine culture in Hawaii?" 08:20 The meaning behind the Hawaiian name. 09:10 Lessons learned from the first harvest. 11:41 Learning the fundamentals of wine making without gadgets and with space age technology. 13:26 Tasting a Grenache--the vineyards biggest challenge. 17:23 The tasting room in Los Olivos. 17:55 The challenges in creating a wine business from Hawaiian roots, far from California. 19:25 An influential meeting with Frances Ford Coppola in 1996. 22:22 "What was your biggest influence in winemaking?" 25:50 The decision to use native yeast. 29:50 Working with different vineyards and learning which you prefer. 30:56 Tasting more Grenache, and weighing the benefits of different vineyards. 33:21 Qualities associated with different vineyard sites and terroir. 35:31 "Would you do anything differently after 13 years of winemaking?" 36:18 Amazing surprises from the journey so far. 37:06 An incredible Rosé and what Mikael buys for his own table. 37:50 Tasting the Grenache Blanc-- "stone fruits and lychee." 39:24 "What is your favorite and least favorite part of your job?" 40:36 Balancing his responsibilities for Beckmen Vineyards and his own company. 42:43 Where to find Kaena wine, and the hawaiian wine club parties. 43:40 Other California wine makers from Hawaii, and a connection with Richard Sanford. 45:03 Making the transition to mentor, and Mikael's trajectory. 46:40 The beautiful tasting room and empty spit buckets. 47:30 Future goals and case production. 48:23 "Shoots," and Goodbye!