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Scenes from the 30th anniversary of west Maui's Kapalua Wine & Food Festival


It’s nearly impossible to not relax when you’re standing on the west Maui coastline, where you don’t need a sweater — even on evenings when gentle breezes give way to strong, gusty winds. Where the water shimmers in several shades of calming blue under sunny skies on Kapalua Bay.

This is the postcard-perfect scene I strolled into on Thursday afternoon. Touching down on tiny Kapalua Airport’s single runway, after a long stretch of busy days on Oahu, I quickly loosened up my stiff neck and shoulders. Still, twinges of stress lingered on.

Lucky for me, I was headed to the 30th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at Maui’s Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Resort (pictured, below), where even the concept of stress is soon forgotten —  well, at least for the duration of this dream weekend for your inner epicure.

The four-day event, Thurs., June 9 to Sun., June 12, dubbed A Toast to 30, showcased Hawaii regional cuisine. At Friday evening’s Grand Tasting — A Maui-Grown Gala, local farmers teamed up with top Hawaii chefs to serve ono pupus (delicious appetizers), ranging from mahi mahi ceviche tostadas to bites of seafood sausage drizzled with BĂ©arnaise sauce. Oh, and more than 200 wines from around the world were poured for festivalgoers, most of whom appeared to be completely de-stressed by sunset.


Interactive wine seminars, offering a chance to taste and compare exceptional wines alongside top winemakers and master sommeliers, were held throughout the weekend. My favorite was Saturday morning’s Pinots Meet Cheese, presented by cheese master Kent Torry of the Cheese Shop in Carmel, Calif. Each participant sat down to slices of gourmet cheeses and seven glasses of wine. Between sips and nibbles, Torry and wine experts shared stories about the hard-to-find offerings and approving opinions about the pairings. (They clearly enjoyed every possible wine-cheese combination.)

Among the festival’s foodies and wine connoisseurs, I undoubtedly ranked as a novice epicure. (While I will gladly drink fine wine and tuck into inspired culinary creations when opportunity presents, most of my meals are quick-fixes. And while working, I often get by on coffee and pastry or, ahem, a handful of M&Ms.)

Here are a few things I learned at the wine-cheese seminar: Dutch Gouda should be pronounced “How-Duh,” according to Torry, who quipped, “‘Just remember: How-Duh is gooda-tasting.” Also, Pinot noir is a “sexy wine” — light- to medium-body — that can vary in taste from robust when youthful to silky when mature. And, judging by the happy seminar participants, I'm fairly confident that serving Pinot noir with fancy cheeses is a sure-bet to pleasing just about any party guest with a sophisticated palate.

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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival returns for 32nd year this weekend on Maui’s west side
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival begins on Maui this week. We'll be there!
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival 2008
Kapalua Wine & Food Festival marks 30th celebration on Maui this week. We'll be there!

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