Napa Valley AVA
Filled with a sense of adventure - perfectly 'pono'
To all Hawaiians, pono is a way of life. It’s also a commitment to leaving all things in a better place than when first encountered and additionally pono is, understanding and appreciating that life can be both simple and complex.
Dave Sedeno is a native Hawaiian (born and raised on Oahu) who has pursued a career in the wine industry on a part-time basis for more than two decades. During that time he worked with numerous wineries and winemakers and developed a deep passion for the grand grape phenomenon. He credits such luminaries as Norm Kiken of the much-admired Reverie Winery and Vineyard on Diamond Mountain (Napa Valley) and Steve Reynolds of the Reynolds Family Winery (also Napa Valley) as mentors throughout his career.
After an occupation as a firefighter (shades of Cecil DeLoach) that spanned some thirty-four long years, Sedeno decided a change of lifestyle was in store. He had formerly worked part time in wine sales and marketing and the wine industry beckoned to him. “I know it’s a crazy business,” he related. “But it offers a sense of adventure for those involved. I guess I just love the experience.”
A number of years ago, Dave Sedeno met Winemaker Grant Long, Jr. and the two developed a lasting friendship that culminated in the development of Pono Wines in 2012.
“I had absolutely no aspiration about getting into the business on the winery side,” confessed Sedeno. “The fact is that I first met Grant when he was associated with Reverie. We had lost contact for a while but I found him again and we met for lunch. In less than an hour, he had convinced me that I should start Pono Wines and have him make all the wines.”
The company’s first releases were in 2012, a minute 50 cases each of a red and white blend. Customer and industry support and praise helped Pono Wines become entirely successful. The annual case production has risen to around 265 cases, but Dave Sedeno is hesitant to expand his production at a swifter rate. “I think I know this business after way more than twenty years,” he explained. “I know how it works. When you source your grapes you must be incredibly selective and I adhere to that philosophy.”
Sedeno also points to his Hawaiian background and the attitude it embodies. “Back home, we learn to take things as they come and not to stress over those things that you cannot control. I know when the timing is right and the fruit is exceptional, Grant will be able to help us get us the next level.”
Winemaker Grant Long, Jr., is more than just a friend to Sedeno. A long-time resident of the Napa Valley, Long must be considered an insider when it comes to locating desirable fruit and making wines for Pono Wines. His own winery, Aonair Wines was founded in 2008 and has collected a sizeable number of high scores and awards for his wine portfolio. He is a true artisan in the winemaking field of endeavor and believes that mass-production is better suited for other industries, not winemaking.
Pono Wines has taken a giant step and opened a tasting facility in downtown Napa City. “We are partnering with Kitchen Collective, an urban cooking club that opened last November. Such clubs already exist in Europe but this is the first in America. The idea is to be able to pair wine and food correctly and Kitchen Collective’s staff really knows its business.”
Stories like Pono Wines are feel-good accounts of hard working people taking a chance on starting a business they truly love. Dave Sedeno’s second career will probably be his most recognized since firefighting provides many heroes but few celebrities. Pono Wines is a true labor of love that is totally liquid in nature but definitely implanted when considering both dedication and heart.
We are delighted to introduce Dave Sedeno and his marvelous 2013 “Hapa” Red Blend. We know you will enjoy Pono, to its fullest!
A special treat for our Platinum Wine Club members: Dave Sedeno is offering a special tasting event for couples at your convenience. Just call the number below and identify yourself as a Gold Medal Wine Club member. Tastings for Pono Wines are by appointment only and can be arranged by calling Dave at 916-367-2023.
Aloha Platinum Wine Club Members,
It is our honor to share the 2013 “Hapa” Red Blend with you. Our name, Pono in Hawaiian means balance, a connection to the land, leaving something better than you found it, and it is in this spirit that we create our wines. The symmetry of the island language is complex in its simplicity; it symbolizes our approach to winemaking, the relentless pursuit of perfection and harmony. To create “Hapa”, which translates to “mixed”, we searched the Napa Valley for the best grapes from small growers and combined them into a sensual blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Like the island that wraps around each bottle of Pono, savoring our wines is an adventure of flavors, textures and aromas.
Wine making in the Napa Valley shares many characteristics with growing up in the islands; they both inspire an appreciation for the rich variety created by dramatic differences in terrain, soil and climate. Wine has embodied this diversity across history and cultures. This is why we place the hook or Makua, as it is know in island cultures, on each bottle of Pono wines to represent life, abundance and the sharing of good fortune with others.
The coordinates under the Pono name will take you to Iolani Palace. It is a nod to the voyager spirit of my elders, including my grandmother who as a playmate of the last princess sailed the ocean by schooner to England. This is the history of discovery and adventure that inspires Pono wines. We are proud that our first vintage of 50 cases quickly sold out; with our second vintage we produced 100 cases to share with old friends, and now with you our new friends of Pono wines.
Grant Long Jr. - Owner & Winemaker
Grant Long Jr. has lived in the Napa Valley most of his life and has become one of the most intriguing and talked about young winemakers in California. Before establishing his own label, Aonair Wines, in 2008, Grant worked at several wineries, gaining both winemaking and business experience. Most recently, he was a partner in G Wine Cellars and spent several years in sales and marketing with Reverie Winery on Diamond Mountain. He points to his father who was a lifelong wine lover and fine wine collector, as one the great influences in his life.