Tedeschi Winery, Maui, Hawaii

January 6, 2011

Over Christmas, I went to Maui in Hawaii. While there, we went to the Tedeschi Winery, which is the only winery on Maui. We headed into Upcountry, slowly gaining in elevation and entering into the clouds a bit. The last five miles approaching the winery were curvy both side to side and a bit vertically over hardened lava flow. We got there at about noon and went across the street to the Ulupalakua Ranch Store and ordered a burger made out of beer or elk meat raised on the ranch. This ended up being one of four hamburgers we were to eat in three days, and it definitely one of the better ones.

Next door is the Tedeschi Winery, which is part of Ulupalakua Ranch. It was started when a California winemaker named Tedeschi approached the current Ranch owner about starting a winery. They worked with UC Davis to find a grape that would grow in that warm of climate, though being on a side of a mountain does help. They also make pineapple wine out of Maui Gold pineapples.

Now Maui Gold is both a breed of pineapple and a brand. It is actually higher in pH (lower total acid) than most pineapples and has a tender core. Apparently, it makes for very good juice. Sadly, it isn’t all that profitable to grow pineapple in Hawaii anymore, and the fields began to close. Some farmers approached Ulupalakua Ranch and other financial backers and were able to save a few thousand acres to continue production.

The winery offers a free tasting of four wines, so between my husband and I, we were able to taste all seven. Their grape wines make for decent table wines, and I liked their pineapple wines.

Prior to going to the winery, I had found a bottle of Pasek Winery Pineapple Wine, which claims to be from 100% Maui Pineapple. I don’t know if that means they were using Maui Gold Pineapple or what, but I can’t stand the stuff, and I don’t come across a commerially sold bottle of vine very often that I won’t eventually finish after some time. I believe the pineapple was too low in pH to make a good wine with, so they attempted to raise it. The result is a wine that has a very good pineapple nose, but it has this nasty soda, like baking soda, bite to it. I was therefore afraid of the Tedeschi pineapple wines, but it was just fine. I ended up buying the Maui Blanc wine.

Maui Blanc Wine label: This is what it looks like driving down the mountain from the winery.

I will say that there is this idea in the wine industry that a sparkling wine is a flaw unless done intentionally. I usually don’t think of it as a flaw, but I actually understood why it is so often considered a flaw upon tasting two sprakling wines at Tedeschi. It didn’t really add anything, and in fact, it seemed to hide some of the flavors. I didn’t care for theirs, and considering how much extra work it is to make it, it isn’t worth it to make it as a business I think. However, I could see the advantage of doing it for the sake of artestry and to give winemakers a challenge.
After the tasting, we went on a little tour of the grounds. It was actually pineapple crushing day, so we got to look at some of the equipment for that at a distance. They said that they fed the left over pineapple to the cattle. We didn’t get to see much else except for vegetation around the buildings, including one tree that is used to make Vick’s Vapor Rub.

The winery is part of a historic trust, so they cannot build any new buildings. The tasting room, in fact, was the summer cottage for the visiting Hawaiian king. They have a small room that talks about the previous owners, deforestation and attempts to restore the forest on the Ranch, and the Hawaiian kings that stayed there.

The next day, we took a tour bus on the road to Hana, which then circled back around the back side of the island where rental car agencies forbid you from taking their cars. As a result of our route, we arrived at Tedeschi Winery at about 4pm along with one other bus, each bus holding 20 people. We discovered that they were only pouring four wines and you could not taste anything else. The wines included: Maui Splash, Maui Blanc, Upcountry Gold White, and Ulupalakau Red. I’ll have you note the order: they were pouring sweetest to lightest, which is unconventional unless you serve crackers. They didn’t. The result was awful, as only the first wine tasted decent, and it was not my favorite wine the day before because I don’t care much for passion fruit. It made my favorite wine from the day before, the Maui Blac, taste awful. This gave me something to ponder on business wise.

All in all, I’m glad I went the day before. If you want to check out Tedeschi Winery and hear that you will be passing though as part of a Hana tour group, you will be disappointed. If you strike out on your own, go to other places in Upcountry such as the Alii Lavender Gardens, which have the most excellent scones.



4 Responses to “Tedeschi Winery, Maui, Hawaii”

  1. noell Says:

    awesome!! i’m totally going to go here when we’re in maui this august!

  2. […] their porter has smoked coconut, and a wheat beer might have mangos or pineapple juice made from Maui Gold pineapples. The brewpub is where they come up with new brewing […]

  3. […] and are just along for the ride. That’s when you can lose money. I witnessed this at Tedeschi Winery in Maui, Hawaii, where the tasting was free and tour buses came and very few bottles were purchased. This seemed to […]

  4. […] pineapple breeze that transports you to the islands. Benefits the Grays Harbor YMCA.” I have had two other commercial pineapple wines, and this one was the best. Pineapple is so difficult to work with due to pH, and there is also […]

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