Tickets for this year's Kapalua Wine & Food Festival are as highly coveted as a fine bottle of Opus One. It just goes to show that other things, beside wine, keep improving with age.
In fact, it will mark its 30th anniversary today through Sunday at various venues in The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
"We're excited to be the host hotel for the longest-running wine-and-food festival in the country," says Ian McPhee, hotel manager. The Kapalua Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua provide a spectacular backdrop to enjoy outstanding wines from the incredible vineyards while sampling the freshest and most creative culinary creations from chefs around the island. It will be a fantastic event and shouldn't be missed!"
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival
Kapalua Resort photo
The festival's featured chef agrees.
"Many of the people attending this event are the food and wine opinion-makers for the entire country. This event is gastronomic tournament of champions in that it allows the whole country to witness the great things we raise here," says Peter Merriman, who will showcase foods from two of his restaurants at the Grand Tasting and the newly named Maui Seafood Festival as well as an already sold-out luncheon.
Over the decades, attendees have seen Dave Stare from Dry Creek Winery sail his tall ship to Kapalua and shoot off a cannon. Other times, wine legends such as Robert Mondavi and Mike Grgich have graced the event with their presence. Oh, if those walls could only talk.
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at a glance:
What: The 30th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival today through Sunday evening at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
The Grand Tasting: Sip from the selection of more than 200 wines, taste gourmet food by top Maui chefs and grown by Maui farmers from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Ritz's Aloha Garden Pavilion. Cost is $140.
Seminar highlights: The Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation Intro Class at 10 a.m. today still has a few seats left at $40; A Drive Up Hwy 101 at 2 p.m. Saturday, $65; You say Shiraz, I say Syrah will be at 11 a.m., Sunday. All other seminars and the featured luncheon are sold out.
Maui Seafood Festival: The grand finale event feature Maui's top chefs and the bounty of the Pacific with beer, wine and more on the Ritz's Beach House Lawn from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $140.
For more details and tickets:?Call 665-9160 or visit www.kapalua.com.
"It's a momentous occasion this year and so we're focused on one thing and one thing only," says returning festival host and master sommelier Fred Dame.
"We're focused on making this a big-bang event! I promise you. We'll be pouring some really extraordinary wines this year. I told all of the winemakers I want them to 'give me your best effort.' We want to make this the best of the best."
For instance, at the Grand Tasting on Friday in the Ritz's Aloha Garden Pavilion, more than 200 wines will be uncorked at various tents to pair and to sip at your leisure - between bites of farm-fresh foods.
Wine stations include a Tour of California with favorites by Festival Host Fred Dame; Southern Hemisphere Wines; Pacific Northwest Wines; Master Sommelier Selections by Jay Fletcher; European Wines; and the ever popular Sparkling Wines by Master Sommelier Larry Stone.
This year, in conjunction with the Maui County Farm Bureau, the Grand Tasting's theme is 'A Maui Grown Gala.' Top island chefs will paired with local farmers for some awesome culinary creations.
Those in the industry who have today off should drive straight to the Ritz for the 10 a.m. Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation Introductory Class, kind of like a Sommelier 101. There are 20 seats left and cost is $40. Many restaurant workers say they will get reimbursed by their bosses to attend and educate themselves.
Love your Aussie wines? From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, You say Shiraz, I say Syrah will be a head-to-head showdown of The Land Down Under vs. the Stars and Stripes. Either way you say it, this dark-skinned grape produces a powerful punch! Which side are you on?
Last, but certainly not least, Maui Seafood Festival will be swimming with food and wine lovers on the Ritz's Beach House Lawn from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
"The grand finale event showcases Maui's top chefs and the bounty of the Pacific! Enjoy wine, beer and spirits while you mingle with winemakers, chefs and friends right on the Beach House Lawn! And dance on to the live entertainment featuring Maui's favorite band, An Den!" says Kimberly McKeon, the event coordinator.
The Ritz's Kai Sushi Bar will serve crispy mahimahi wrapped in shiso and nori sheet with miso edamame sauce; and the Hyatt's Japengo will do monchong with crab, tuna, avocado, tobiko and spicy eel aioli. Other participating restaurants will each do a different seafood. For instance, Hula Grill will make a scallop dish; I 'o and Pacific'o, opah, Roy's Kahana Bar & Grill, ahi; Merriman's Kapalua, shrimp, Sea House, opakapaka, Pineapple Grill, seabass; Maui Culinary Academy, swordfish. The Ritz's Pastry Chef Ashley Nakano will tempt you with desserts.