When most people think of Hawaii, wine probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. While the Aloha State is known for its spectacular beaches and gorgeous scenery, it actually boasts several outstanding wineries that approach winemaking in a unique Hawaiian fashion.
The following are two of the best wineries to see when visiting Hawaii.
Located at 4,000 feet on the Big Island, Volcano Winery is a great place to stop when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This unique winery produces a number of wines made with both traditional grapes and fruits grown on the island. The estate’s volcanic soil gives the wines produced here a unique character.
Volcano Winery’s traditional wines include a Pinot Noir with black currant and plum flavors and an oak finish. This red wine pairs well with salmon, roast beef, or ahi tuna. The winery also sells a limited-edition Pinot Noir, which features a blend of estate-grown grapes and grapes imported from Carneros Valley, California. This medium-bodied wine derives its smoky aroma from the volcanic soil on-site, and it pairs well with lamb, steak, roasted pork, or seared ahi tuna.
The winery also makes a wine in honor of Pele, the goddess of the volcano. Named Volcano Red, or Pele’s Delight, this wine won the Bronze Medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition consecutively from 2012 to 2014. Volcano Red features jaboticaba berries and has notes of cranberry and ripe black cherry.
Another one of Volcano Winery’s white wines is Hawaiian Guava-Grape. Made with white grapes and yellow guava fruit, this delicious wine has won several awards over the years, such as a Silver Medal at the 2007 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition and Bronze Medals at the 2001 International Wine Summit and the 2006 West Coast Wine Competition.
White wine lovers should also try Volcano Winery’s Symphony Dry, which features notes of apricot, lychee, and peach. Made exclusively from Symphony grapes, this off-dry white wine pairs well with seafood, chicken, and sharp cheeses. For a truly Hawaiian wine experience, visitors should sample the Macadamia Nut Honey Wine. Made from honey taken from macadamia nut trees on the island, this wine can be served chilled or warm as an after-dinner treat.
In addition to producing wine, Volcano Winery makes its own tea as well as an infusion tea wine. Visitors can find sample these wines during standard or premium flight tastings, which are offered 364 days per year.
Located in Kula, MauiWine has a fascinating history that dates back to the times of the Kingdom of Hawaii. In 1841, King Kamehameha III leased a sugar mill and a plot of land to L. L. Torbert, considered a pioneer in sugar planting.
Today, the former sugar plantation is home to the MauiWine winery. Visitors to the winery can begin their tasting experience at King’s Cottage, built for King Kalākaua, the last reigning king of Hawaii. The cottage features a beautiful 18-foot bar made of a single piece of Ulupalakua mango wood, and guests are welcome to sample a number of exceptional wines, particularly MauiWine’s famous pineapple wines. These include Maui Blanc, a semi-dry wine that appeals to both dry wine and sweet wine lovers alike. MauiWine’s top-producing wine, Maui Blanc was also the first wine bottled at the winery. Meanwhile, the Hula o Maui is a sparkling pineapple wine that pairs well with spicy food and is ideal for use in mimosas.
MauiWine also produces a sparkling rosé called Lokelani. This slightly pink wine features notes of orange blossom, fresh strawberries, and toasted almond. Sparkling wine lovers should try the No. 001, a brut aged for 20 months in tirage. Consisting of 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent Pinot Noir, No. 001 features a variety of notes, from pear and lemon zest to golden apple and green papaya.
Red wine lovers should try MauiWine’s Mele, a red blend with notes of red berries and eucalyptus. The winery also produces a number of traditional reds, such as Syrah, Grenache, and Malbec. Finally, MauiWine makes a raspberry dessert wine called Lehua. Although it can be sipped on its own, this wine also goes well over ice cream or mixed in cocktails.
In addition to tasting the unique wines at King’s Cottage, visitors can sign up for the Old Jail tasting. The former office of Captain James Makee, the Old Jail is a stone building where MauiWine allows guests to learn about winemaking on Maui and sample four select wines.
MauiWine also offers tours twice every day at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Starting at the King’s Cottage lanai, the free tour allows visitors to explore the estate, cellar, and wine production area.