One of the big, happening banners being waved in our local food and wine industry is to BUY LOCAL and rightfully so. A profound question/statement once asked by a friend is how can we buy 10% more local food product. He noted that could translate into 100’s of millions of dollars that stay in our State economy. If we do it well, he further added this could also help move us towards self-sustainability as a State. It could also help a farmer actually make it, financially. All, good things.
Along those lines, I was recently reminded of yet another opportunity to support local. The Kauai/Oahu Chapter of the Chaine des Rottiseurs (a very celebrated international food and wine society) held a dinner at VINO recently spearheaded by current Bailli, Kathryn Nicholson who requested to pair our foods with the wines from MauiWine, Ulupalakua Vineyards. The group had apparently visited the Maui based winery & vineyard late last year & decided to do a dinner featuring their wines.
I was astounded to find that this Maui based winery has been around for 42 years! And, despite the challenges of so many obstacles seemingly endlessly popping up, this winery has strongly and almost stubbornly persevered. When one considers, for example, that their estate grown vines do not typically have a true dormancy period (sleep time in vine language) that would be like me staying up 24 hours a day. I need sleep and rest and so do the vines. That is just one of the countless challenges MauiWine and its unbelievable leader, Paula Hegele have worked through for 42 years!
They currently have 6 grape varieties planted—Syrah, Malbec & Grenache for red wine & Viognier, Chenin Blanc & Gewürztraminer for white wine.
Each of the first five wines listed were featured at this group’s VINO dinner. I watched in fascination as these connoisseurs ooo-ed, awed and nodded their heads in approval with each taste of wine. We knew that if any of these wines were not good, we certainly would have heard about it & quickly. Winery spokesperson, Joe Hegele was there to color commentate the experience & answer any & all questions. I would readily say, people left appreciating & enjoying a whole new niche of wine they had not considered before.
A couple of weeks later, I and two other VINO teammates were on Maui visiting our newly opened, sister restaurant, Shearwater Tavern, in Kihei. In the late morning, the Tavern chef team took us up to visit one of their core farms who supply their produce—Maui Nui Farms up in Kula. It was a very insightful experience to say the least & we were clearly reminded how hard these farmers work & we walked away with an even greater respect for what & how they do & of course their product.
We decided to then go to Maui Wine because we were so close to the vineyard & winery.
Their 23 acre vineyard of various parcels is located roughly at 1800 feet elevation with rich volcanic soils and an absolutely breathtaking, panoramic view of Maui’s southwest shore, including Molokini Island. One gets a strong sense of place while visiting the vineyard that’s for sure.
On this visit, the wine which caught the eye of VINO General Manager, Ann Taketa, was the very pretty, delicious, uplifting, pink sparkling wine, which they label as “Lokelani”. The grapes come from California, but the wine is aged on the lees (part of the process of how the French make Champagne) and then bottled right there on their Ulupalakua site. We were all so mesmerized looking through the green colored bottles and its floating lees, as it would slowly mature and increase its complexity during the lengthy process.
Ann was so impressed, she is looking to feature Lokelani by the glass at VINO, just as Managing Partner, Ivy Nagayama is looking to also do at both Sansei Waikiki and DK Steakhouse.
Yes, just another way to support local! You can help too, by checking out their wines.