Wine tasting on Maui is a surprise for most people visiting our tropical paradise, as most think of a Mai Tai before they think of a sparkling rose. As the only winery on the island, Maui’s Winery has found success because there is no one in competition. You might wonder why no one else has monetized on this business idea, and the reason became apparent once I experienced this winery for myself.
If you’ve ever been to Napa Valley or Santa Barbara or any other notable wine country destination, then you already have a preconceived idea for your wine tasting experience. It’s all-encompassing, from the landscape to the winery to the knowledge of the staff. But the gold star comes from the actual wine you taste. Those that enjoy wine tasting don’t need an expert palate to recognize an enjoyable wine.
Maui’s Winery is tucked into the hillside of upcountry, and the rolling hills and vast ocean view from 1800 feet above sea level is one for the picture books. They’ve taken pains to groom their winery with bountiful greenery and restored wood made into ceremonial sculptures. Maui’s Winery preserved the historic mountain retreat that belonged to King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani by making it their sunny wine tasting room. Standing at their gleaming mango wood bar, I read about their well-kept 23 acre vineyard and all the passion that goes into each bottle of wine. Excitement bubbled up as I turned my attention to the free tasting, and took a sip of their sparkling Lokelani Rose. And that was the end of the dream. From the moment I tasted their first wine, my heart sank and I sadly realized that they had not hit the nail on the head. Their most popular wine is made from pineapple, and I still haven’t figured out why Maui Winery thought that was the golden idea. Pineapple is good for many things, but a syrupy sweet wine isn’t one of them. And their grape vintage wines aren’t much better, not meeting the descriptions that the wine makers are attempting to master.
There was a steady flow of visitors to this winery while we were there, and by the looks of it, they seemed fine with the free tasting and a few were even buying a bottle or two to take with them. I can’t account for their tastebuds being in tact and working, but this spot doesn’t appear to be a bust. If you’re looking for something to fill your day, then the long drive up to the beautiful winery may be a perfect fit. Just don’t expect the wine to win you over.