We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonya Villegas Kelsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Sonya, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
The most important thing I have done as a parent is give my daughter the wings to fly. It was incredibly hard for me when she left home as I was constantly concerned about her well being. BUT I also knew she was very capable and wise. I knew she would make mistakes and get hurt, but I also knew she would never get into trouble. As a young adult she supported herself in the most expensive and challenging cities (San Francisco) in California. She grew a lot and learned life lessons most of use don’t learn until we are in our 30’s. She is now our chef and we could not be more proud.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My husband Mike Kelsen and myself co-founded Colony Wine Merchant in 2014. We set out to be the go to fine wine retailer and wine bar in the historic district of Anaheim called The Colony. We knew we had product knowledge (I had a 20 plus year career in wine) and experience in hospitality to ensure that everyone who walked in our doors would feel taken care of and have excellent product to enjoy. What we did not anticipate was the way we were embraced by the community. We were welcomed with open arms and made great friends right away. That made all the struggles of opening a business (there were many) almost forgettable.

My husband and were used to taking risks in our careers but nothing was as risky as opening our own brick and mortar and leaving our careers behind us. It is not for the faint of heart but after the year that we have all been through, I don;’t think of the struggles. I am so proud of us for still being here!

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Anaheim has such great bars, restaurants and people! There is always something to sip and savor. I can;t wait to have my family visit and take them on a culinary adventure on foot in our neighborhood. Just a few short steps from Colony Wine Merchant you can get yourself and epic tiki cocktail and great bites at the family owned and run Strong Water (Daniel will make you a killer drink). Love IPA? We have Unsung and Radiant Breweries just a couple blocks away (also family owned). My daughter’s favorite local bar is Hammer Bar in the Packing House. She says they make the best daiquiris. Also in the packing house is Urbana which has been recognized as having the best tacos in OC. Try the Gobernador, you will not regret it! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank my husband Mike for believing in me even when I fail and can’t believe in myself. A special thank you to our incredible community in downtown Anaheim and beyond. Their support brighten up some very dark days during the pandemic. I also want to make a shout out to our friends Jack and Marquita who believed in our vision even when there were only four walls to look at,

Website: colonywinemerchant.com

Instagram: colonywinemerchant

Facebook: Colony Wine Merchant

Yelp: Colony Wine Merchant

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