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Maui

“Wine” of the Week: Maui Blanc Gold, Maui’s Winery, Ulupalakua, Maui, HI

Proof that wine does indeed grow in all 50 states, the lone winery on Maui produces some very noteworthy wines from myriad fruits. Conveniently known as Maui’s Winery (there are also wineries on The Big Island and O’ahu), the winery itself is not so convenient for visitors. Maui’s Winery is easily a half day trip, at least an hour from Kahului, way high up in the upcountry beyond Kula. It feels like the top of the world there, or at least the island. No, there are no roads that lead from Wailea up the hill to the winery, as convenient as that would be (“Only Oprah” is allowed to use those back roads I was told at the tasting room).

It’s only convenient if you spent the morning exploring the volcano Hale’akala, but well worth the drive for more than just the novelty of drinking wine from Hawaiian terroir.

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Let’s first understand that these wines aren’t exactly going to be getting 90+ plus points from Wine Spectator. It’s a fine terroir, but there’s a reason humidity isn’t a grape’s best friend. The tropical climate and volcanic soil are excellent for many vegetables and fruits, including pineapples. That doesn’t mean pineapples age elegantly into wine like Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Pineapples do age into admirable wine, though, that is certainly worth at least trying.

For most of the 180,000 yearly visitors to Maui’s Winery, the big question is, “What will pineapple wine taste like?”

The answer is very simple: It tastes like a less sugary, more refined pineapple juice. In many ways, pineapple wine is much more pleasing because of its restrained sweetness compared to regular pineapple juice. Everything is very balanced with a beautiful guava nose leading to a semi-dry wine, teetering between fresh fruit and floral influences. Some mineral notes arrive at the close letting you know this is a thorough, full-frontal wine that is absolutely drinkable. Maybe too drinkable for those of who know how quickly well balanced Mai Tais last. (more…)


Monday’s Neighborhood: Kapalua, Maui

On this late April Monday, it’s snowing in Denver and still crisp Autumn weather in the Northeast. Spring hasn’t quite got the message yet that it was supposed to start a month ago (meanwhile it’s summer already in California).

Which of course then makes us think of Mai Tais and beaches in the tropics. Honolulu’s high today was a cool 82.

For this Monday’s neighborhood of the week, we say a very warm “Aloha!” to beautiful Kapalua, a resort area in the northwest corner of Maui.

Kapalua almost always is spoken in terms of golf with its 22,000 acres of luxury condos spread between the coast, two eighteen hole world-class golf courses, a golf academy, a Ritz-Carlton, and Highway 30 at the top of a steep incline to the east. Golf is in the air everywhere, you can’t escape it. Fortunately, you can be rest assured the courses are far enough from the beaches to not hear “Fore!” when sunbathing.

The Pineapple Grill's Ahi & Heirloom TomatoTartare, Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Maple-Meyer Lemon Emulsion, Local Avocado Cream, Tobiko

The Pineapple Grill’s Ahi & Heirloom TomatoTartare, Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Maple-Meyer Lemon Emulsion, Local Avocado Cream, Tobiko

The PGA golf season’s first event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, occurs the first week of January each year on Kapalua’s Plantation Course (Dustin Johnson won this year). While the rest of the country is marching back to work through snow after New Years, the golf world is savoring the Kapalua sunshine and splendid views west towards Molokai.

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On Maui’s West Coast traveling north towards Kapalua you have the New Orleans-evoking charm of the area’s “town,” Lahaina, then the decidedly un- Hawaiian skyscraper hotel-resorts of Ka’anapali, followed by the more subdued communities of Kahana and Napili Kai (for our readers’ interest, the Maui Brewing Company’s brewpub is in Kahana). Then you reach our destination, beginning with Kapalua’s Bay Course, full of Cook pine trees everywhere, with views over Napili Bay. (more…)