Maui, HI (‘Elua: ‘Ulupalakua Winery & Kula Botanical Gardens)

We started our day with a beautiful drive to the Tedeschi Vineyards located in ‘Ulupalakua, upcountry Maui. When we left West Maui I immediately noticed the transition to the quiet and peaceful countryside. The drive allowed us an opportunity to slow down and soak up the scenery. We were away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist towns/attractions, and we were more likely to see a cow or a mongoose than another person. Mongoose? Yes, I know – I should explain. To elaborate, the mongoose population (originally from India) was introduced to this quaint island in the late 1800s to reduce the rodent populations in the sugarcane fields. However, it was soon clear that W. B. Espeut didn’t do his homework. Rats are nocturnal, and mongooses hunt during daylight. Unfortunately, the mongoose population began to prey on the eggs of the native tropical birds (which were conveniently nested on the ground). As an invasive species, the mongoose population nearly caused the state bird, the Nene Goose, to go extinct; however, the Nene was recently reintroduced to the island and seems to be thriving.

Maui’s winery is well known for a number of things, but most distinctly for its production of pineapple wine. The winery was established in the late 1900s. While waiting for grapes to mature, they decided to develop a sparkling wine made from the plentiful pineapples on Maui. A large, positive public response developed from the small amount of pineapple wine that was produced, and they have continued production each year. The Tedeschi Vineyards boast grapes of classics, like chardonnay, syrah, and malbec, but also of chenin blanc, carnelian, and viognier. The vineyard thrives due to Mount Haleakala’s rich, volcanic soil (which make up the hillsides standing 1,800 ft above sea level). The various wines that are served have beautiful color, depth, and character and host floral, tropical flavors of spices and exotic fruits. The sparkling wines are all produced in the French process of “methode champenoise,” requiring years of aging and delicate handling to create the anticipated tiny bubbles. I especially enjoyed their prized 2011 Estate Syrah (aromatic, spicy, and bold) and dessert wine, Framboise (rich, fruity, and sweet). Our guide entertained us with stories about the family that established the winery, its history, and its evolution throughout the decades. As you walk around the grounds, you can observe elements of its history that is deeply rooted in agriculture. To share a fun fact: Maui’s famous Brut was served at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

We wandered across the street to the ‘Ulupalakua Ranch, where they serve a number of gamy dishes, including elk and lamb burgers, kalua pig, beef brisket, and fresh fish (caught daily). My husband raved about the elk burger, which was grilled right before us on the wrap-around porch. The Ranch Store also served a number of spices and rubs that I now envy for my bland “Amurican” meat. Outside sat four eager herding dogs in the back of a pickup truck. The Ranch also hosts a number of activities available to the public, such as Sport Clay Shooting and Horseback Riding tours.

Our next stop was a sweet surprise for the eyes – Kula Botanical Garden. In all frankness, I thought this might be a rather bland venture. Luckily, I was wrong. I had never observed trees and flowers with such a plethora of colors. At the entrance sat two Jackson chameleons (a male and a female) – a reptile that is often known for its colorful personality. Deep within the garden, a group of peaceful doves were kept in a shelter, and a koi pond sat below the entrance inside the garden gates. The koi rushed over to the dock as soon as we arrived, in anticipation to be fed by tourists. A Nene habitat housed several of the native birds, which could be observed below from a white, picturesque gazebo. Also within the garden, stood iconic trees that could not be ignored – the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. They are most famously known for their paper-like, peeling bark that reveals an array of colors. Happy reading!

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For more information: Maui’s Winery, Kula Botanical Garden, and The Ulupalakua Ranch


NOTE: All blog posts, articles, and photographs are the intellectual and creative property of Melissa J. Koziol. Thank you for reading!

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