With so much culinary talent concentrated in one spot, it’s about time for Wailea to hold their own Wine and Food Festival. The festival gets its wine knowledge from some of the best professional sommeliers in the business. They come with amazing careers in the wine industry, perfectly suited to sharing and tasting wine with the Wailea set. The event hopscotches through the resorts from The Fairmont Kea Lani, Grand Wailea, Wailea Beach Marriott and the Four Seasons Maui, each taking a turn at hosting some of the fabulous interactive wine “encounters.”
“We’re thrilled to bring this unique new experience to the residents and guests of Wailea Resort,” says Bud Pikrone, General Manager for the Wailea Resort Association. “We promise legendary winemakers, fantastic cuisine and eight master sommeliers ready to share exciting new trends in food and wine. We can’t wait to kick off this fantastic new event.”
The whole thing started with an “Art Wine & Food” art competition that declared the Maui artist Taryn Allesandro the official festival artist. Her stunning entry, aptly named “Wine & Spirit,” will be displayed on banners throughout Wailea during the event.
The Wailea Resort Association has brought together an unparralled array of chefs from Wailea. Headlining chefs from the restaurants include Brian Etheredge of Capische?, Mark Ellman of Mala Wailea, Michelle Fabiani of Fabiani’s, Bev Gannon of Gannon’s-A Pacific View Restaurant, Cameron Lewark of Spago, Peter Merriman of Monkeypod Kitchen, Mike O’Dwyer of Mulligan’s on the Blue, Brandon Shim of Tommy Bahama, Geno Sarmiento of Nick’s Fishmarket, Roger Hampton of Longhi’s Wailea, Alan Wong of Amasia, Eric Faivre of the Grand Wailea, Manfred Jonas and Jason Carpio of Wailea Beach Marriott, Tylun Pang of the Fairmont Kea Lani and Rhonda Aston-Chavez and Roger Stettler of the Four Seasons. That’s a concentration of culinary artistry that rivals any international wine and food event.
The signature wining and dining festival event has to be the DaVine Experience on Saturday at 5:30pm. There will be more than 75 wines to taste as you roam the magnificent grounds of the Grand Wailea’s Oceanfront Reflections Pool Lawn. There you can taste Bev Gannon’s ribs, Alan Wong’s duck, Tylun Pang’s lobster tempura, Brian Etheredge’s pork cheek tortellini, and Michelle Fabiani’s red velvet cake. Sommeliers Fred Dame, Geoff Kruth, John Blazon, Jay Fletcher, Drew Hendricks, Andrew McNamara, Pat Okubo, Jason Smith and Joseph Spellman will be on hand to enlighten attendees on the wine. The evening also features live entertainment from SLAM and Soul Congress and a silent auction of art and other items, all proceeds of which will benefit the Maui Culinary Academy.
Those who want to immerse themselves in the team of sommeliers can check out the daily interactive seminars. Pinot zealots will get romanced by the most passionate pinots on Friday, and California’s wine country will divulge their newest secrets. Saturday features a virtual tour of Italy through their exquisite wine, or you can sample three decades of Cabernet from some of California’s most coveted wineries. On Sunday, it’s technique training with wine and cheese so you can learn how to make the most of your pairing skills. Both Friday and Sunday feature winemaker dinners at Nick’s Fishmarket, Capische?, Fairmont Kea Lani, Longhi’s Wailea, and the Four Seasons. These soiree’s offer an intimate and personal experience with pairings, and likely the winemakers themselves, so check the website for the details.
The final culinary event “Grillin & Chillin’ – Where There’s Smoke There’s Wine” will be a laid back Sunday barbecue. Meat and wine will be celebrated in one of the oldest pairings on the planet. Enjoy honey mango barbecued rib eye on taro rolls, Tuscan hangar steak and Guinness-infused sausage, among other seafoods and greens.
With so much wonderful food and wine available, to say nothing of the fact that you can actually attend all of the events (nothing overlaps!), purchasing multi-day passes makes sense. Plus you get to go to the VIP kick off on Thursday. Passes start at $305 and go up to $600 (check waileawineandfoodfestival.com for kama’aina rates available on all tickets). You can also get single event tickets, which range from $68 to $180. The participating resorts are also offering free valet parking with validation for all event attendees.
Thursday, Dec. 6
VIP Opening Night Welcome Reception (with purchase of passes only)
Palm Court, Fairmont Kea Lani
Friday, Dec. 7
Fairmont Kea Lani
Pinot Passion, 10:30 a.m.-noon, $85 ($78)
What’s New, Next & Trendy in California Wine, 1:30-3 p.m., $75 ($68)
Ko Restaurant, Fairmont Kea Lani, 7 p.m., $245 ($220)
Longhi’s, The Shops at Wailea, 7 p.m., $125 ($112)
Saturday, Dec. 8
Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
Escape to Italy in Eight Glasses, 10:30 a.m.-noon, $75 ($68)
Three Decades of Cabernet Vertical, 1:30-3 p.m., $110 ($98)
Reflection Pools, Grand Wailea, 5:30-9 p.m., $180 ($155)
Sunday, Dec. 9
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
Wine & Cheese: The Perfect Pairing, 10:30 a.m.-noon, $85 ($78)
Grillin’ and Chillin’, 1-4 p.m., $125 ($105)
Nick’s Fishmarket, Fairmont Kea Lani, 7 p.m., $140 ($125)
Capische, Hotel Wailea, 7 p.m., $250 ($225)
Attendees must be at least 21 years old. Tickets can be purchased and printed online. Space is limited for all events, and it’s anticipated most will sell out. Tickets available for purchase at waileawineandfoodfestival.com. They will also be sold at the door, subject to availability.