State Profile: Hawai’i Wine Country

“The Aloha State” unwittingly granted us some of the marketing freedoms we now enjoy, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1984 “Bacchus” decision stating the states may not discriminate in favor of their native industries to the detriment of wineries from other states. It had to do with taxation on pineapple wine, but ultimately the fairness principle helped shape the 2005 “Granholm” decision which opened up direct-to-consumer shipping. So…Aloha, Aloha!

Most Hawai’i wine is made on Maui (MauiWine), which also has the only AVA outside of the contiguous U.S. Ulupalakua. Oahu, home to Honolulu, also has a winery (Oeno Winemaking)

Volcano Winery, located on Hawai’i (a.k.a. the Big Island) 45 minutes from Hilo, certainly has some unique “terroir”—up at 4,000 feet on the windward east side of Hawai’i Volcano National Park, and on the southeast slope of Mauna Loa. The 64-acre winery parcel is in an ideal location in terms of temperature and rainfall for growing Pinot Noir, Symphony, Syrah, and Cayuga White. They often add Jaboticaba berries, Guava, and other local fruits to their wines, and offer a Macadamia Nut Honey Wine. In addition to the normal wine tasting and tour, they offer a Tea Presentation with a tour of the tea fields, three steeps of tea, and a sip of Infusion Tea Wine.

Great Grapes: Symphony

Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris are the parents of this versatile white wine created in 1948 at UC Davis. It is the most widely planted variety in Hawai’i, and produces table and sparkling wines ranging from dry to sweet, as well as serving as a blending wine.