Kapalua Wine & Food Fest: Crème de la Crème

Kapalua Wine & Food Fest: Crème de la Crème

This week marks the 28th Annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival; easily one of the Hawaiian Islands most prestigious, elegant and well-attended culinary events. Held at various locations throughout the Kapalua Resort (yet rooted at the Ritz-Carlton), this year’s festival attracts 7 master sommeliers, 2 high-profile chefs, one of the world’s most knowledgeable sellers of cheese, and dozens of winemakers eager to share their wares.

The theme this year is “Carnival”, an appropriate reference to the Bacchanalian celebration of life’s finer things that takes place in South America each year. Beginning on Wednesday, June 10th with a special winemaker dinner at Merriman’s Kapalua (hosted by one of the wine world’s most colorful characters, Gary Pisoni of Lucia Vineyards) and ending with Sunday’s extravagant Seafood Festival, the 5-day affair without question holds something for all taste buds.

During the daytime on Friday and Saturday, the Ritz-Carlton hosts “In the Kitchen” sessions with the invited celebrity chefs, who demonstrate the chops that elevated their status in the culinary world. On Friday, June 12, at 10 a.m., southwestern U.S. food-hero and founder of Roaring Fork, Robert McGrath, prepares his faves as paired with wines chosen by master sommeliers Jay Fletcher (of Aspen, Colorado) and Emily Wines (San Francisco, Calif.). On Saturday, Google, Inc. executive chef Scott Giambastiani shows how his dedication to using local, sustainable foods got him the gig at Silicon Valley’s (oh heck; the world’s) biggest Internet company.

Other daytime events throughout the week include: “Psycho Pinots”, a look in to one of the more delicate grapes being harvested with great success in the U.S.; “Masters of the Fued” will tempt brave enthusiasts in a game show-like scenario to prove their blind tasting skills in the presence of attending master sommeliers and winemakers; The Kapalua Wine Tour, which brings participants to various locales around the resort to sample hard-to-find wines; a “Riesling Resurrection” seminar that will give the ins, outs and misconceptions of this dry to sweet varietal; and of course a cheese tasting session with Kent Torrey of The Cheese Shop, Inc., in Monterey, California.

The evenings boast grand gala-like events—usually held between towering Cook pine trees and under the twinkling starlight of West Maui—such as The Grand Tasting (Friday) and The Seafood Festival (Sunday). On Saturday evening, guests are encouraged to participate in one of the semi-private winemaker dinners (more information will be available after check in).

Ticket prices range from the full package ($800) to individual events ($125 to $175). The uber-efficient Kapalua Resort Shuttle will transport you all weekend, so stow the rental car keys in the hotel safe, pack the Advil and bring your loosest pants—it’s going to be a glorious weekend on Maui.