HE and SHE both say: Wine made in Hawaii? Yes, indeed. There are wineries in all 50 states now, including Hawaii. We were really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wine here, and the staff was really warm and inviting. Here is our experience visiting Maui’s Tedeschi Vineyards.
The formal name is Tedeschi Vineyards, the more common name is Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. It is as beautiful as you would imagine, like so many things in upcountry Maui. When you get tired of the beaches and bikinis — and trust us, you will — head to upcountry on the side of Haleakala volcano and have some ranch-style fun at the Tedeschi Winery.
Originally the 20,000 acres of Ulupalakua Ranch was a sugar plantation. The last sugar crop was harvested in 1883 and the land became a cattle ranch. The 22-acre Tedeschi Vineyard (a few miles from the winery) was established in 1974 and their first grapes were harvested in 1980. Because of the warm weather, the harvest is in August and September. The first wine they released in 1977 was a pineapple wine that they still make today.
Sally took about 20 of us on a short tour of the grounds and gave a brief description of the trees and basic biology of the land. After a quick look at the former sugar mill that is now the winery, it was on to the tasting room where Elena was a gracious host.
The tasting room is in a historic building which is called The King’s Cottage. King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapi’olani were frequent guests of the ranch owners, and so in 1874 this special cottage was built just for them. You can see pictures and read more about the cottage here.
Serve with: In general, Maui wines are perfect for almost any light seafood dinner you might serve, vegetarian dinner, or any island style meal you might have planned for summer – or even Indian Summer. They are great picnic wines as they are light and fun. During other seasons, you might find some of these fit with Asian dinners, since Asian is rather difficult to pair up with many of the heavier California wines we write about.
The Maui winery does not usually bottle by vintages which is a little different, so you won’t see vintage years beside most of these wine names. We tasted 8 wines and enjoyed a completely unique wine experience.
(1) Upcountry Gold, Chardonnay ~ French Colombard blend. (this wine is not listed on their current website. You’ll have to email them and ask when it will be available again. info AT mauiwine DOT com )
HE says: Pure straw color. Dry & crisp, but not much fruit. I gave it a 13 on my scale of 1 – 20.
SHE says: You taste so good, I hardly even notice you’re a chardonnay.
(2) Rose Ranch Cuvee – this sparkling wine is primarily made from chardonnay, with a touch of pinot noir to give it complexity and a little blush.
HE Says: This sparkler had a nice balance. Good fruit, dry. Who knew they could make a good sparkler in Hawaii? – I rate it a solid 14+.
SHE Says: You’re super-bubbly! You can stay all day!
(3) Ulupalakua Red – 40% Syrah / 60% Merlot. The grapes are brought in from California for this wine, as we recall. The blend changes depending on the grapes. The previous blend was Cab-Syrah.)
HE says: Very soft, like violet & velvet. You can really taste the merlot. It’s easy to drink, but needs more body. 13+
SHE says: You’re a little stiff for me.
HE says: Stiff? Are we drinking the same wine?
(4) Mele, 2007 Syrah ~ Estate Grown Mele is a chant or a song in Hawaiian
HE says: This full-bodied red exhibited a beguiling spicy berry and chocolate nose. It had berry flavors and was soft, with little tannin. Spice after-tones rounded out the taste. Yummy! 14+
SHE says: You’re complicated, but I like you. I don’t usually have time for complicated things, but you — I like.
(5) Hula O Maui – Sparkling wine. Made entirely from Maui Gold pineapples, grown on Maui. Pineapples grow year-round so there’s always an ongoing harvest and wine production.
HE says: Despite being made only from pineapples, the pineapple notes & flavors were very subtle. It was a clean sparkler, and would go nicely with Asian food. I can honestly say it was the best non-grape wine I’ve ever tasted. Maui champagne, gotta love it! 14+
SHE says: You’re lovely. You smell like pineapple, but you don’t taste like pineapple – just lovely and fruity are you.
Serving suggestion: A Maui wedding perhaps? Yes, this sparkling wine is perfect for a Maui wedding celebration. Click to see wedding photographer Megan Finley’s inspiration board for a Maui wedding design.
(6) Maui Blanc – from Maui grown pineapples. Non sparkling still wine.
HE says: This pineapple wine had a very floral nose. It has stronger pineapple flavors than the Hula O Maui sparkler, but not much body. 13+
SHE says: Lots of pineapple – ooo0-wee! Love ya. Aloha.
(7) Maui Splash (Pineapple + Passion Fruit and their biggest seller)
HE says: This one smells like a gardenia. Very fruity – almost like a sangria. This is really a fun & simple summer wine, great for a party or for people who like fruity wines.
SHE says: You’re so fruity! I want to invite you home to meet all my fruity friends!
(8) Framboise de Maui – Raspberry Wine (20% alcohol)
HE says: Framboizzzzz! I love saying it like a snooty Frenchman. Like most framboises (framboizzzzzzzes?), it had a really intense nose. It was very smooth & velvety. A bit too strong for me to have on it’s own, but great with ice cream or other desserts.
SHE says: A bit bitter, are we? Guess you haven’t been in Maui long enough to relax properly.
Serving suggestion: Try it with chocolate, over ice cream or maybe with some sparkling water — why not try a pinch in champagne or in the Hula O Maui sparkling wine? That would be fun.
Where do you find Maui wines? Good question. SHE bought her first bottle of Maui Splash when she was dating He and wanted to surprise him with a wine she was sure he’d never tasted before. Cost Plus World Market was where she stumbled across Maui Splash. They almost always have Maui Wines in stock. Click here for a list of how to find Maui wines.