After a morning rainstorm – a regular occurrence on that side of the island, I’m told – I began my Saturday morning with a bit of snorkeling as part of the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program. After a few hours of floating along with the sea turtles in the blue waters off the coast of the Lahaina, I returned to the Ritz for the afternoon’s wine tasting session, A Drive up Highway 101. Featuring a handful of some of California’s best wines, panelists like Ted Lemon of Littorai Wines, Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards, Susan Doyle of Diageo Chateau, and Donald Patz of Patz & Hall Wines joined festival host Fred Dame to talk about what makes the Highway 101 corridor so special to the wine industry. Wines poured included the Carlyle Vineyard Zinfandel, Chalone Pinot Noir, Littorai Carise Pinot Noir, and my favorite, the Williams-Seleyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir.
“This is my ninth year, and I’m excited about it every year. This is a beautiful place, and these are my friends. These seminars – we speak so candidly and openly, nobody’s on guard here. We laugh, we have a great time. You get to participate. You’re not just sitting there, listening to us go on and on about wine,” said Dame. “I think seminars like this are so important to the wine community because guests get to be a part of it. They get to see us interact, and they learn that wine shouldn’t be a job – it should be fun.”
That evening, I had the opportunity to join the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Sales & Marketing Director, Mike Masterson, as well as Public Relations Coordinator Katherine Gioia, Culture Advisor Clifford Nao’ole, and fellow journalist Becca Hensley, for a marvelous wine dinner at the hotel’s Banyan Tree restaurant. With chef Jojo Vasquez plating up a warm hamachi, bites of halibut with corn, harissa, and cilantro, and a Wagyu flat iron steak, vintner Fred Scherrer was on hand to discuss each Scherrer wine paired with the courses.
Tomorrow, my final post on the 2011 Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, including an afternoon Syrah tasting, a Farm Fresh culinary demo with chef Peter Merriman, and the beachside Maui Seafood Festival!
**Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender