Seafood. Wine. Maui.
If those three words don’t inspire an immediate sense of bliss, I’m not sure anything could. And bliss is precisely what I experienced at the annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival at Kapalua Resort, a consortium of properties along the paradise coastline of one of Hawaii’s most enchanting islands.
I fully expect my experience at the festival to prompt jealousy, even among famously well-traveled meeting planners. During the event, I tried some of the world’s finest wines—a Plumpjack cab here, a Domaine Carneros pinot noir there—and most delectable regional offerings—from fresh ahi to crab enchiladas with mole sauce—at stations set flush against the sea during two separate tastings at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. (That property, for the record, is every inch as gorgeous and luxurious as you’d expect; the view of the cascading pool lined with palm trees, the bluest-of-blue ocean in the not-too-distant horizon, never failed to elicit my awe.) I enjoyed a unique property dine-and-wine-around that took me to the spectacular property spa for Dom Perignon and fresh strawberries; Kai Sushi for sushi and sake; a pool cabana for hard apple cider, warm olives and roasted nuts; and an onsite organic garden for bread, cheese and (appropriately) organic wine.
In between the gastronomical offerings, I ziplined in the Maui mountains, progressing to a line stretching 2,100 feet across a green valley fronting the resort-dotted coastline in the distance. I trekked up to a stunning observatory while learning fascinating environmental facts with the help of a naturalist, part of The Ritz’s Ambassadors of the Environment program. With the help of the uber-professional and charming Trilogy team, I set sail at sunset along the cerulean sea, tasting Methven Family Vineyards wines and enjoying sublime appetizers along the way. I even met local resident Mick Fleetwood, of the legendary Fleetwood Mac, at my new favorite-restaurant-ever—Honu Seafood & Pizza in historic Lahaina, co-owned by well-known local chef Mark Ellman, whose food was later deemed the best overall at the festival. Here, exquisitely prepared dishes—including surprisingly delicate fried pig’s ears—were complemented by a setting mere steps from the ocean. (Insider’s news: Fleetwood himself will be opening a group-friendly restaurant in Lahaina in August.)
I spent my first few days on Maui learning that it has more to offer than paradise. I spent the last few days learning it is, in fact, paradise. Throw incredible food and wine into the mix, and bliss happens.
Stay tuned for more on this captivating island in future magazine issues!
Image: Dining at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
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