Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii I grew up under the loving care of my “Tutu” Lucille Hollinger, my Hawaiian great grandmother. I developed a passion for wine at an early age while drinking European wines with my German uncle and listening intently as he explained the importance of the vineyard. That passion grew into obsession working in the Honolulu fine dining industry.
I moved to Northern California in 1996 upon my first visit to the famed Napa Valley. After an extensive gourmet tasting at Oakville grocery, I headed for Niebaum Coppola winery. The tasting was amazing consisting of a five year vertical of Rubicon. After the tasting I was fortunate to meet Francis Ford Coppola and discussed with him his future plans for the estate. Looking for a good site for lunch Mr. Coppola suggested his hilltop picnic grounds overlooking the vineyard. It was there over lunch and a bottle of 1994 Edzione Pennino Zinfandel that the enormous beauty of my surroundings overcame me. I saw a vision of what my life would become, an eventual career in winemaking. Needless to say I packed up my bags and left Honolulu for the bay area three months later.
Realizing Santa Barbara’s potential for growing world class Rhone varietals I decided to dive head first into the wine industry, joining the Beckmen Vineyards winemaking team as a harvest grunt for the 1999 harvest.
In 2001 I took over the reigns as assistant winemaker from Joey Tensley. While assistant winemaker at Beckmen I was responsible for helping take the winery to new heights in the market place through sales and marketing. In the cellar I helped change the way we looked at the vineyard and winemaking by embracing techniques used by the French masters of the Rhone. Quality was further ensured by meticulous monitoring during harvest and fine attention to detail in the cellar.
In June of 2005 after six years at Beckmen Vineyards I made the move to join the Fess Parker winemaking team as associate winemaker. After two years with the Fess Parker team I was invited back to Beckmen Vineyards as head winemaker in February 2007.
I started my own label “Kaena” in 2001 with 3 barrels. My label has since grown to an annual production of just under 1500 cases, focusing on Grenache and Syrah. Using traditional techniques such as native yeasts and low sulfur additions, along with a little space age technology to control fermentations, it is my goal to make distinctively crafted wines that showcase varietal character and vineyard definition.
My hope is to live up to my given Hawaiian name “Kaena”- translation “potential for greatness.