So when you were planning this year’s vacation, you had your heart set on Hawaii, but your spouse was hoping to tour Wine Country — the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. Hooray! You prevailed.
Okay, now that you’ve decided on Hawaii, how can you appease your spouse somewhat? These islands in no way resemble Wine Country. Most of the world’s grape growing is done in moderate climates; Hawaii’s climate is tropical. But Hawaii does have higher elevations of volcanic mountains and ridges, which do support the growing of grapes. Accordingly, Hawaii has two wineries – on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. Both grow Symphony, the only grape raised here for winemaking. Symphony is a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris, and it yields wines that are very fruity, off dry to sweet, and great for quaffing on the beach. You won’t find them in the cellars of wine connoisseurs around the world.
The 20,000-acre tract that is ‘Ulupalakua Ranch on the leeward slopes of Haleakala at an elevation of slightly under 2,000 feet is made up of tiny rural communities, rolling green pastureland, great distinguished trees and majestic mountain vistas, with sublime seascapes below. And, yes, you can enjoy the vistas on your way to a tour of the winery. You will see it all on the road to Tedeschi Vineyards, which were established in 1974. The first grapes were harvested in 1980, and in 1984 Tedeschi’s first grape product, Maui Brut, was released.
Today the winery sells an assortment of wines made from grapes as well as several other specialty wines made from pineapple, passion fruit and even raspberries.
Your first stop when you arrive at the winery will be the tasting room, where you can sample the various varieties of wines. The winery also offers two free guided tours every day at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The guides are well versed in the history of the area and the ranch, and you’ll enjoy walking through the grounds where Hawaiian royalty once relaxed. After the tour you’ll head back to the tasting room to buy a bottle of wine for lunch and maybe a few more to take with you. For lunch all you need to do is walk across the street to the ‘Ulupalakua Ranch Store.
On the Big Island, Volcano Winery produces local wines inspired by volcanic fire and the bounty of the island. Tropical fruits like yellow guava and the exotic jaboticaba berry are blended with traditional wine grapes and transformed into creations that capture the area’s relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.
For the more traditional palate, the winery offers wines made with the Symphony grape. And there’s a Macadamia Nut Honey Wine, made from blossoms of the Macadamia Nut tree, which yields a sweet after-dinner treat that is uniquely Hawaiian.
The winery’s staff does free tasting every day of the year from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and no appointment is necessary.
Volcano Winery is at the 30-mile marker in Volcano, near the golf course. It makes for a great side trip when you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
So even if it ain’t the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, winery tours in Hawaii still are fun and tasty. If you’d like to work in a tour of either winery or both, pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Web site home page, or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll work it into your vacation schedule for you.
Posted by Jim Winpenny
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March 16th, 2009