Story By Charles Fredy
My favorite event of the year is almost upon us. The Kapalua Wine & Food Festival returns June 9 through 12, celebrating three decades of magnificent wine and food. If you’ve been to the festival in the past, you know that much of its pleasure derives from the setting: a manicured lawn that descends from the Ritz-Carlton to the sea. Here you are, on a tropical island, the sun moving toward the western horizon as you wander from tent to tent, sampling incredible wines and delicacies prepared by the island’s finest restaurants, enjoying the company and conversation of like-minded wine- and food-lovers.
What makes the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival truly exceptional is that it combines that delightful location with an impressive selection of wines. A few years ago, author and master sommelier Andrea Immer began introducing new and high-quality wineries to the event. Since then, Master Sommelier Fred Dame has built on that tradition, inviting master sommeliers who in turn bring some of their favorite wine selections. I can’t stress enough how the ripple effect of their knowledge deepens the experience for festivalgoers. Each master sommelier has a relationship with specific wineries, and brings to the festival five, six or seven of his personal selections. The result is a showcase of remarkable diversity.
This year, Dame and Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth are bringing an all-star crew: master sommeliers like Rob Bigelow, director of the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas; Jay Fletcher, current chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers’ American Chapter; the legendary Larry Stone, general manager of Rubicon Estate; Andrew McNamara, a member of the board of directors of the Guild of Sommeliers; and Michael Jordan, owner of Word Vineyards and president of the Beachcomber Restaurant Group.
Other highlights: The Guild of Sommeliers’ Education Foundation will host a master sommelier introductory class. The festival will also include a showcase of three decades of reserve cabernet sauvignon form Jordan, Beringer, Cardinale and Silver Oak Wineries—each winery presenting selections from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Tasting events will feature many local chefs, and local favorite Chef Peter Merriman will host a special seminar featuring farm-fresh products.
My advice? Come thirsty and explore wines that challenge your palate. This is the perfect place to find a new favorite among all the exotic and classic selections. Taste as many as you can—and take advantage of the opportunity to talk with the people behind the wines; you’ll gain insight into how the wines are produced and how they pair up with the cuisine you enjoy. And by all means, take advantage of the many seminars the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival offers. They are great values, and can lead you to the most fascinating wines.