Kapalua Food + Wine Festival: A Must for the Indulgent

Kapalua Food + Wine Festival: A Must for the Indulgent

June is a happening month on Maui, without a doubt. Still coming down from the high that was the most successful Maui Film Festival to date, the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival kicks off at the tail end of this week. A half-dozen master sommeliers (there are less than 75 nation wide) descend upon the bucolic (and now revitalized) Kapalua Resort, where tastings, seminars, lectures and social events last until the wee hours on Sunday evening. Highlights will certainly include the opening night (Thursday) reception at the brand new Merriman's Kapalua, which has already begun a slow buzz throughout culinary circles on Maui; Friday evening's Grand Tasting, where hundreds of wines from all wine-producing regions of the world will be sampled by attendees; and Sunday night's Seafood Festival, which features culinary creations by Maui's top chefs, rare wines and live Hawaiian music.

A new aspect to this years' festival will be a Maui Gold pineapple recipe contest, in which top local chefs will submit their favorite menu item that makes use of the Kapalua grown fruit. Participants will include Ryan Luckey of Pineapple Grill, Gourmet Catering and Tropical Desserts, Cravings Bakery, and executive chef entries from the Ritz-Carlton and Merriman's Kapalua.

Attending sommeliers include host Fred Dame, as well as Rubicon and Coppola Estate manager Larry Stone, oft referred to as "the yoda of all master sommeliers".

Finally, perhaps the biggest draw of this year's festival is the opportunity to see the completely unveiled Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, whose spa fully opened for business last week. We were able to get a sneak peak of the layout on opening day, and let it be known—it's absolutely stunning. The 17,500 square feet of relaxation space is themed around Hawaiian healing and the flora that blanket the island. The experience begins when you walk along a low-lit, dark wood and bamboo hallway that ends at a two-storey wall made entirely of river stones. Fifteen treatment rooms, many of which have access to private outdoor showers, serenity garden and Hawaii's only coed, outdoor lava-rock grotto with whirlpool tub are just the beginning. We'll leave the rest for our thorough review after this weekend.

Tickets for the 27th Annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival are available at  www.Kapalua.com; prices vary from event to event, ranging from $60 to $400 per, or a 4-day pass is available.