Hmm,… the 2nd most popular in America? Gotta be in Napa Valley right? Maybe the Mondavi
Winery or maybe V. Sattui with its deli and picnic grounds. Or maybe it’s Ferrari Carano in
Sonoma with its sculpted gardens and expansive tasting room and gift shop. Well… if most
popular equates to most visited, then the 2nd most popular winery doesn’t reside in Napa
Valley, Sonoma Valley or even California. In fact, it’s not even in the continental United States
but right in Hawaii’s own backyard. Right on the beautiful slopes of Haleakala on the Valley Isle
The Tedeschi Vineyards
In the mid 1800s, Captain James Makee acquires ranch property on the slopes of Ulupalakua and
renames it Rose Ranch after his wife’s favorite flower, the Maui rose or lokelani. Two decades
later, the “Merrie Monarch” or King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani become frequent
visitors to Rose Ranch so a cottage is constructed for the King.
Fast forward a century or so and C. Pardee Erdman acquires the property and names it
Ulupalakua Ranch. Another decade or so passes and Erdman partners with Californian Emil
Tedeschi and Tedeschi Vineyards is created.
The Wine History
Emil Tedeschi knew that he wanted to produce a sparkling wine at the new winery. However, the
classic Champagne grapes such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier weren’t ideally
suited for propagation on these volcanic slopes. Tedeschi turned to a hybrid grape developed at
the University of California called the Carnelian which could grow in hotter climates and
produced higher acid levels, crucial in sparkling wine production. The Carnelian was an offspring
of a Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane which was further crossbred with Grenache. While the
success of the Carnelian floundered in California, it did take root on the slopes of Haleakala.
While Tedeschi waited for his Carnelian vines to mature (it takes several years for grape vines to
mature to produce palatable wine), he started producing wine from pineapple concentrate and
named it Maui Blanc. It took me years to try Maui Blanc since pineapple wine locally goes by
another name; pineapple swipe. Supposedly pineapple cannery workers would take fresh ripe
pineapples, cleanly sever the crown then macerate the flesh within. After carefully placing the
crown back on the top to create an airtight seal, the macerated pineapple flesh would ferment in
a week or so to produce a crude pineapple wine or “swipe” for workers to enjoy illicitly on their
breaks. Therefore Maui Blanc wasn’t something I initially rushed to the store to purchase.
A decade after Tedeschi Vineyards was created, they released their first grape based wine; Maui
Brut Blanc de Noir. In fact, this sparkling wine was served at Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.
Since then, Tedeschi Vineyards has released several other pineapple wine based products; Maui
Splash which is Maui Blanc mixed with lilikoi or passion fruit juice for a sweeter version of Maui
Blanc and Hula O Maui Sparkling Wine which is sparkling pineapple wine.
They also produce an off dry Rose called Maui Blush, a red table wine called Ulupalakua Red and
have continued their sparkling line with Rose Ranch Cuvee. Along with the pineapple and
Carnelian based wines, Tedeschi Vineyards also experiments with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
though I’m not sure how much of it gets blended with their current wines.
Visit the Winery
If you ever find yourself vacationing on the Valley Isle, I suggest paying a visit to the 2nd most
popular winery in America. Depending on the source, the current tasting room was either the
original cottage of King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani or a jail for unruly sailors docked
at Lahaina. The tasting staff is very friendly, the Upcountry of Maui is very cool and reminiscent
of autumn in the States and you can make a complete trip by purchasing beautiful Maui proteas
and fragrant Kula Alii lavender. You can also sample their complete collection of pineapple and
grape wines then decide if you want to purchase it back in the States at Calistoga Wine Stop
(complete line of wines) or Cost Plus (pineapple wines). They do ship to California but as you
can guess, wine going from California to Hawaii (or vice versa) carries a heavy shipping toll ($45
for 6 bottles, $60 for 12 bottles).
Maui Blanc: A very perfumy pineapple aroma with a very light mouth
feel and short finish. Great with Chinese sweet and sour dishes as well as
Maui Blush: An earthier nose with dried fruit but also with a light mouth feel
and short finish. Also would pair with lighter Asian cuisine.
Ulupalakua Red: With a nose of green beans, herbs and dried red fruit and
substantial mouth feel, this would be good with hearty stews.
HC 1 Box 953
Kula, HI 96790-9304
The 2nd Most Popular Winery in America