Exploring Maui's West Coast

By Kinley Welly
November 1, 2012

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It's hard to have a bad time at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Maui's western coast. And yet, in this place of amazing beauty and exciting beaches, there is one weekend that ranks as remarkably fun: the June Kapalua Wine and Food Festival, which uses The Ritz-Carlton as its home base.

It quickly became clear that for many returning visitors, this is a weekend marked early and in pen on their calendars - for good reason. A Thursday kickoff event at local institution Merriman's Kapalua had us trying some wines I knew and loved, and others I'd never heard of but was excited to learn about. Friday featured a golf tournament, a panel session on "Pinot Superstars" (Williams Selyem, Domaine Carneros, Pisoni Vineyards, Native9, and Scherrer Vineyards), and a lavish grand tasting on the Beach House Lawn. An education-focused Saturday followed, with panels on both organic and sparkling wines, as well as a cooking demonstration, followed by intimate dinners hosted by various winemakers. 

One highlight of the festival was the winemaker dinner we attended aboard the Trilogy catamaran at sunset. For groups looking for the opportunity to feel like a real VIP, this is the excursion to book. For one thing, to board the catamaran, you file past the very long lines of people waiting to board the much larger and much more crowded vessels nearby.

The next day there was a Spanish wine seminar and, my personal favorite, the "Kings of Cabernet" panel, featuring Plumpjack, Frog's Leap, Ramey Wine Cellars, David Arthur Vineyards, and Hill Family Estates. That evening, the Seafood Festival created a relaxed setting in which to mingle with our group and say goodbye.

Regardless of whether you are drawn to Maui by the wine, by the sea, or by business, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua provides an ideal place to stay. The property recently underwent a $180-million renovation and now offers 463 guest rooms, a 17,500-square-foot spa, more than 150,000 square feet of meeting space, 36 holes of championship golf, and extensive Hawaiian cultural programming in addition to traditional water sports and activities. So grab a pen and mark your calendar for June 7-9, 2013. See you there. SM
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