Chakras & Chardonnay

Ep. 37 From Proud Roots to Fine Wines: The Kaena Wine Journey with Sally Sigouin

March 06, 2024 Maria Mayes Season 2 Episode 37
Chakras & Chardonnay
Ep. 37 From Proud Roots to Fine Wines: The Kaena Wine Journey with Sally Sigouin
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 37 Maria is joined by Sally Sigouin, owner of Kaena Wine Company where they discuss Sally's journey into winemaking with her husband and the unique story behind Kaena Wine. Sally shares that Kaena, meaning "proud" in Hawaiian, was a name given to her husband by his great-grandmother, representing something one is “really proud of”. They began their winemaking journey after working in fine-dining restaurants and realizing their passion for wine.

Specializing in Grenache varietals, Kaena Wine focuses on creating wines they love to drink. Sally explains the challenges and rewards of working with Grenache, highlighting its unique characteristics and the importance of patience in winemaking. She also discusses their expansion to a second location in Solvang and the experience they offer there, complete with a 65,000-square-foot tasting room set in a picturesque barn setting.

Sally emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries to balance work and family life, sharing her approach to prioritizing family time and being present for her children. She also discusses the mindfulness practices she incorporates into her routine, particularly emphasizing the role of exercise in maintaining mental well-being.

Listeners are invited to explore Kaena Wine's offerings through their website and are encouraged to join virtual tastings or visit their tasting rooms in Los Olivos or Solvang. 

The episode concludes with Maria leading us through a short guided mindfulness journey.

To learn more or order from Kaena:

Order the Mindful Tasting Trio: A special three-pack of Grenache that comes with the mindful tasting experience:

Learn more about Maria and her work at Take5.Health and subscribe to receive tips and free Guided Meditations each Wednesday. Connect with Maria on social:

Maria Mayes: [00:00:00] Welcome back, Chakras and Chardonnay listeners. I'm very excited to be with you back today and super grateful for my guest. I have with me Sally Sigouin from Kaena Wine. Hi. How 

Sally Sigouin: are you? I am great. Thank you so much for having me. 

Maria Mayes: I want to pay homage to the beautiful name that it is. And I would love for you to tell us a little bit about it and how you came into the world of winemaking. 

Sally Sigouin: Yeah, so my husband is born and raised in Honolulu.

He is Hawaiian on his mother's side, and he was born, um, into a four generational house, and his great grandmother, who was called Tutu, um, gave him the name Kaena, and Kaena means proud, something that you're very proud about. Um, he and I met, uh, while I was working, uh, in a restaurant, um, in Honolulu. And we both worked restaurant fine [00:01:00] dining jobs for many, many years.

And that's kind of how we got introduced to wine. Um, we were serving all these gorgeous bottles of wine and realized, wow, this is, we can't afford any of these. Um, and basically moved back home to my, my home area, which is Santa Barbara and began our winemaking 

Maria Mayes: tour. I love that. So, Kaena means proud, something you're really proud of.

What a beautiful name to be given, my goodness. And now creating a legacy within the wines that you're producing as well. So, tell me a little bit more about The wine business in general, now that you guys are in the thick of it, how that looks on kind of a daily basis and what you guys specialize in.

Sally Sigouin: Well, so we're, um, known for our Grenache varietal. We both, um, make more Grenache probably than most people in Santa Barbara County. Um, but we [00:02:00] do have other Rhone varietals that we specialize in. And then we started a Bordeaux line about six years ago. So the the beautiful thing about Kaena is that it came organically.

This is not something that we studied for. This is not something that we learned out of a textbook. This is really, um, just palate driven, um, hard work, trial by fire. Um, and basically we make what we like to drink. 

Maria Mayes: I love that. Makes all the sense in the world. If you're going to make wine, make the stuff you like to drink, right?

Yep. So tell me a little bit more about that evolution from being in the restaurant world and, you know, serving a lot of wines and seeing that there was this, you know, beautiful palate out there, but also high ticket out there. Um, how did you, how did you first get your start? How did you crack into it? 

Sally Sigouin: So we actually went wine pasting in the San [00:03:00] Ynez area.

We had my mother who did not drink as our DD and drove us all over the San Ynez Valley and we just fell in love with not only the area but the people. So my husband quit his Day job the very next day and, uh, started as a harvest intern for Beckman vineyards. So he really learned the ins and outs of, um, basically being a cellar rat.

Um, and that had such an incredible time and palette and then. Was brought on to be in the cellar and then eventually assistant winemaker and then eventually winemaker for Beckman. So, um, really how started is we wanted to make the, when you're making wine for somebody else, when you're working as a winemaker for another, um, owner, you really have to make the wines the way.

They want their wines to show. Um, so we started Kaena mainly because we [00:04:00] wanted to showcase using native yeast, um, on all of the red wines. So whatever yeast was on those wines that came in is what we wanted to use for fermentation process. So that's really how it started. We borrowed some money from my mom and three barrels, uh, became six and six became, you know, et cetera.

And we started having a family. Um, so really just, it was me making road trips out, selling the wine out of the back of my car with the kids and him working day, daytime for the Beckmans and then the evenings for ourselves. 

Maria Mayes: Oh, what an amazing story. I mean, that's literally the American dream with Hardwork work, right?

Sally Sigouin: Yes. Yeah. And it, and it's something that, you know, we both have kind of a small business mindset. And, um, you know, you have to have that, not only the [00:05:00] palate and the passion for it, cause it really is farming and hard work and when I tell people like, Oh, I own a winery. They're like, Oh, how glamorous. And I was like, come see me.

Come see me in October when I'm, when I'm wet and stung by a million bees. Right. It's definitely a labor of love. That's for 

Maria Mayes: sure. Well, and I'm just so inspired by the passion to jump in literally that next day, jumping into becoming, you know, the harvest intern a day after falling in love with. Wine on the tour that that says a lot when you're ready to take that leap of faith, um, I can I can see why the the name is proud, right?

Why the nickname or is proud. So tell me more about, um, you know, having built this business while Building a family to it's a big dynamic that I think a lot of, um, folks who might be listening [00:06:00] who are in the thick of it, either as entrepreneurs or as you know, just the juggle of juggling work life and home life.

So tell me a little bit about how you guys did that. 

Sally Sigouin: Yeah, I definitely think that, um, it's, it is a juggle. I am a kid from the 80s. So I was a latchkey kid. Both my parents worked and I definitely have that mindset of, you know, starting. Work early. Um, so my kids basically grew up in a tasting room and in a winery.

Um, our first location that we opened, um, was not in a great location. So I would dress the kids up with T shirts that said, follow me to Anna. And let them walk around Los Olivos, California, holding hands and having people laugh and take pictures with them. And so they definitely grew up learning that [00:07:00] from a very young age, that if you want something, you have to work for it really hard.

Um, and as far as juggling, I've, you know, basically. With winemaking, it's not always to your calendar, to your schedule. Um, 2011 was an extremely wet year. Um, I had to remind my husband, um, that Santa did have to come on December 24th because he was still picking grapes that late that year. So it's definitely, you know, it's a juggle, but I think it's one that is.

a beautiful option. Um, at least for our family, it has been. 

Maria Mayes: I love that. You know, there's the one thing that you can't take out of the equation with farming is mother nature, right? Exactly, exactly. So I would love to know, um, well I've got two things. First I want to talk a little bit more about just the juggle in that, you know, when you're all [00:08:00] in as a business owner, it can be hard to turn off.

What do you do to step away or to turn off from your roles of being a wife, a business owner, and a mother? How do you step away from that and just kind of do something for your own self during the day? Or? 

Sally Sigouin: I do try to set boundaries, especially when it comes to family. Um, we basically do not allow any appointments, um, for either of us, my husband or myself, for Sundays.

Sundays is day for family and football and being together. Um, we also set rules with regards to, um, You know, phone time, definitely my husband and I, we turn off the phones when we get home. Um, we just, we silence our phones. Um, it can wait, it can wait till the next day. You need to, you know, be present for the kids and find out, you know, how their day went and school and friends and activities and all that good stuff.

So just setting boundaries [00:09:00] with time, that's, I think, been the hardest part to learn. And it's really hard to learn when your kids are small. Um, because you have to schedule everything around nap time and all of that good stuff. Both my kids now are older teenagers. So they're both able to drive and be a little bit more independent.

So that's been really helpful. That really has allowed me to like expand my business. I've been able to open up a second location. Um, so having them be a little older has been, it gets easier. 

Maria Mayes: It gets easier. So for those with young, young kids out there listening and are in the thick of it, it does get easier.

Mine teens as well. And I love that. You said to be present for the kids to silence the phone to give them that presence. I know, um, I was just reflecting recently, um, in an interview that I had some where someone was asking me, um, that When I found balance because, you know, culture gives us this idea of balance, [00:10:00] you know, it's a working right now and it's kind of BS for me.

I could never I never attained it because the vision that culture was painting for me wasn't what I desired. And when I pivoted that term from seeking balance to seeking presence and that being the priority, if I'm at work, my presence is there. If I'm at. Home and I'm with my child. My presence is with them.

That's when everything pivoted for me. How, when did things pivot for you with that? Was that something that naturally came about? Or did you find yourself challenged with it at times and then kind of cracked the nuts somehow? 

Sally Sigouin: I think it came pretty early for me, um, because I just included my children. So they, you know, if I was going to be work running a tasting room, my children were We're at the tasting room.

They might be doing arts and crafts or, you know, drawing hopscotch on the sidewalk, that kind of thing. But they were present, um, seeing that, you know, they're, I can be their [00:11:00] mother, but I also have to have time to work. Um, so I think it came pretty early for me. Um, and it's just gotten easier with age because, you know, now they know the drill, you know, it's like they, they know that, you know, harvest is anywhere from.

You know, after Labor Day till, you know, maybe Thanksgiving, they know that time of year is crazy. And they know it's busy. They know that we're not going to be able to do trips. They know we're not going to be able to plan weekend events because when the fruit comes in, it needs to come in. Um, and as far as like, you know, they just, it's, they kind of just organically realize like, oh, okay, that's how it is, you know, so we do try to make time for special things for them, but they also know that this is how.

You know, we enjoy the food on our table. This is how we enjoy the roof over our head. Oh, and this is how we get to pay for those awesome vacations back to Hawaii. Right, 

Maria Mayes: right. The vacations, the cleats, all the things, right? Yeah, [00:12:00] exactly. So I love that. Um, tell me a little bit more about those two different locations, what we can expect at, uh, the different locations, the difference between the two.


Sally Sigouin: so we started out in Los Olivos, California. We still have a tasting room there right at the flagpole in the center of town. Um, it is about a 700 square foot little cute bar. Um, and that experience, um, is the original, the OG, the Kaena OG experience. So that's heavy on granache. Um, we make a lot of different white wines.

Um, so there's white wines, there's granaches, um, and then. About right after COVID, um, we saw that there was a winery location out on the flats is what we call it here in Solvang. And it's how you get into Solvang, the Danish capital of the America. And, um, you know, we kept driving [00:13:00] by and thinking, what's going on at that location?

What's happening there? Um, so we took a really big leap of faith. Um, Hoping that the world was going to come back out and come enjoy and, um, ended up signing a lease on a barn and we have a 65, 000 square feet of tasting room space inside outside, um, barn and it's awesome. It's beautiful. We get to have all these gorgeous animals.

We have a hundred year old olive trees. Um, it's, it's fantastic. So it's been, it's been a labor of love. That's for sure. Anyone that's done an old barn remodel would tell you, um, but it's been, it's been amazing. Oh, I love 

Maria Mayes: that. And I'm very excited. I'll be up there soon to visit. I know. Um, so we're planning an event in March here and I'd love to.

Circle back to the topic of the varietal that you kind of focused on the most, which is Grenache. Tell me how that [00:14:00] came to be and why. Just tell me all about that beautiful varietal because it's one of my favorites too. And I think it's really interesting that you chose to focus on, on that. So tell me more.


Sally Sigouin: uh, Grenache is, you know, a very difficult grape to work with. I mean, it requires extreme patience. Um, it bud breaks around the same time that Chardonnay does, but it does not ripen until the very end. So it's susceptible. It's out there. You know, susceptible to early frost, um, you know, winds, um, it has to last through the whole summer and then it's really the last fruit to be brought in.

It has very thick skins, so if you're not patient with it and you try to rush it or jam it on your schedule, um, it, it rebels. So, um, the other nice thing about Grenache is that it's really kind of a mother. It, it loves to produce, so it's very drought tolerant, so even in You know, years [00:15:00] where there can be, um, you know, California, we've had, we had seven years of drought before that, you know, storm that we had last year.

The only thing that wasn't, um, producing less fruit was Grenache. Um, so it's just a very unique varietal in that. While it's planted widely everywhere, um, if it's not planted in the sweet spot, um, it, you know, it can sunburn, it can lose its tannins, it can, it can bleach out. So we found the sweet spot, um, in Ballard Canyon.

Um, Ballard Canyon is a beautiful AVA, um, mostly, um, you know, we do have ocean influence, but, , it's, you know, it's, it's a perfect growing site for it. So most of our grenaches are from there. We make multiple, , clones, and then we also do the blanc, um, we do the gris, and we do the [00:16:00] noir, and we also make rosé.

Maria Mayes: saw that. I have my eyes on that, Rosé. I'm excited to learn more about that one and taste that. And so, as you're, as you're introducing this to your world locally and expanding it out to audiences who can order online now too, um, what's your personal favorite thing about the taste or the aroma or just the experience of Grenache?

Sally Sigouin: So for me personally, I am the rosé drinker, so I love grenache rosé. It's my favorite thing to drink. , I've even had rosé pink highlights put in my hair. Um, it's, it's, if you like a winemakers rosé. You're going to like their wines. Rosé is actually a very difficult thing to make. Um, it requires you to pick the grapes on the earlier side.

Um, we, um, cold soak them [00:17:00] to get that beautiful, um, like bandal color. Um, and then we actually inoculate it with a yeast that was isolated in Provence. So. We really do pride ourselves on our rosé program. It's probably the largest program out of all of our 28 varietals that we do. Um, and it's, it's got a, it's got a little cult like following, so it's nice.

Um, but yeah, the rosé is definitely, it's almost like a cotton candy, bubble gum, um, It's not sweet. It's dry, but it's the aromas of the, I always get, especially while we're, um, making it is, is like hubba bubba or a good old fashioned cotton candy from a carnival. 

Maria Mayes: Oh gosh. Well, my mouth's watering. I know.

I'm so excited to come up and taste and guide others through tasting that soon with a mindful tasting. I'd love to know. [00:18:00] Um, one last question for you is, how do you keep it mindful in terms of being in the whole thick of it, and if it's a practice that you do per day, or like you said, turning the phones off, how do you keep it mindful within your own world, um, of enjoying, but also, um, you know, as a leader in your family, too, you and your husband?

Sally Sigouin: Exercise is key for me. Um, I feel like I was formerly a dancer. I was a ballet dancer as a child, and I feel like doing some type of movement, um, whether it's, you know, walk in nature or I practice yoga, um, I feel like movement and exercise is something that I really dedicate at least an hour's worth of my time, um, whether it's, if I have to get up early to do it, I.

Get up early to do it. If I have to do it late, I do it late. Um, but I, I rarely not give myself that [00:19:00] gift. I feel like it's a gift for me to just give to myself. Um, and you know, obviously getting older, there's some days you just really don't feel like doing it. Um, but I remind myself how much. I can how much more I can accomplish if my mind is at rest and I feel like it's most at rest when I've done a little exercise 

Maria Mayes: Beautiful.

It is a gift and such a beautiful gift that you're given the listeners to remind them that That mindful movement is huge, um, to keeping us in that state of presence. I love it. Thank you so much. So how can people get a hold of your wine? Do we have to come to the tasting room? Can we order online? 

Sally Sigouin: Yes. So, um, we would love for you to come out and visit at either location in Los Olivos or Solvang.

Um, but we do offer, um, you can purchase wine from our website. Um, we're at kaenawine. com [00:20:00] and we have. So many different red varietals and white varietals. And then we have, right now we actually have two roses, so that's super fun. But yes, you can order online and the orders are easily processed and we can ship them to any address where somebody of age can sign for them.

Maria Mayes: Beautiful. Well, thank you so much. All those links will be in the show notes and we will be seeing you very soon. I will be seeing you very soon in person in March. We'll be doing a mindful tasting up your way, both virtually and then in the ranch location. So I can't wait for that. I know. It's so exciting.

Sally Sigouin: And we put together a three pack of our favorite granaches the rosé, the blanc, and the noir. 

Maria Mayes: The noir. And they can order that now and, um, and join in the virtual tasting, correct? That is correct. Oh, okay. So listeners, check out those notes in the show notes, the link to purchase that three pack and to get access to that [00:21:00] virtual tasting will be there.

And if you are close, go check them out in person. If you're not close, book a trip. Who doesn't want to go to beautiful Santa Barbara County? I know I am. I'm super excited to go. So thank you so much, Sally. Thank you, Maria.