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Pouring Wine at Maui’s Winery and Tedeschi Vineyards.
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Crush FacilitesIn a tropical climate, crush facilities are outdoors, it may look slightly historical, but inside holds state of the art equipment and imported stainless steel tanks. Nearby, an avocado tree drops fresh avocados to add to staff lunches.
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PineapplesThese pineapple crates weigh in at 3,000 pounds.
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Chainsaw carvingTim Garcia carves one of the Cyprus trees uprooted by a wine storm.
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When one thinks of Maui, Hawaii it is usually in the form of sunny skies, long stretches of sandy beaches, surfers or relaxing on a beach. But, venture “Upcountry” and you will find Maui’s only winery. Situated on the historical famous Ulupulakua Ranch, Maui’s Winery and Tedeschi Vineyards produces a variety of wine including a pineapple wine with a splash of passion fruit, along with raspberry, white, red and sparkling wines.
Growing grapes in a hot tropical climate has its challenges. First off, the grape vines never rest. The climate creates such an easy growing environment, the result is no real no real grape stress. Left up to their own schedule the vines would soak up the sun, flower at different times, and produce low yields all year long which doesn’t make for a great harvest.
So, what needs to happen in a hot tropical climate is training the vines to have a dormant period and produce only one harvest per year, which means scheduling the vines for a long slow growth by pruning back and regulating their food and water so they will go through a dormant period.
“The vineyard is our pleasure,” says president, Paula Hegele. “We just go for the challenge!”
What does grow well in a tropical climate are pineapples, hence their biggest seller Maui Splash, a light and tasty dessert wine, which can be enjoyed while sitting on a lanai, or patio with a cool breeze. Their signature pineapple wine also mixes well with sparkling water and is a big seller in the hotels and delicious mixed together in a fruit salad.
Making wine from grapes and wine from pineapple poses some challenges. The crusher has to be adapted with different blades to be able to gently crush grapes and yet remain sharp enough to crush the pineapples. The pineapple tops are cut off before crush and given back to the farmer to re-plant new plants, and any other leftovers from the crush are given to the cattle.
“The cattle recognize the pineapple truck and will chase after it when they see it coming to receive their pineapple treats”, says Hegele.
Of course just like Canada, weather plays a role too. Three weeks prior to visiting, a huge tropical storm devastated two of the huge Cyprus Trees from the 1800s that formed a Hula circle at the front of the wine tasting shop.
Rather than dig up the trees, the owners chose to turn the tragedy into a meaningful opportunity to remain connected to the past by enlisting the help of an award winning sculptor, Tim Garcia to carve the broken trees into totem poles. One is to be King Kalakaua, a ‘Merrie Monarch” who enjoyed watching Hula dancers perform when he frequented the original Rose Ranch.
So, next time you plan a Hawaiian vacation take a day to venture into the lush farming area of Maui, along a windy country road and into their lush farming area where you will see sheep and cattle along the way. There are also other Agri-tourism adventures along the way such as a dairy farm. At the end of the road you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Tedeschi Vineyards.