Hawaiian Wine Country…That’s Right…Making Wine in Kauai

I love the rain. The wettest spot on earth is on the north shore of Kauai. We were sleeping in anyway which left plenty of time to explore the populated east shore including a home grown spa located in a Hawaiian Homestead neighborhood and a “Kauai winery”.

Aunty Angeline’s Kauai Lomi Lomi Massage is a piece of Anahola down home Hawaiian tradition where the savvy client can arrange for a 45 minute salt rub followed by a superior two-on-one massage. Angeline’s son Michael and his daughter Melia do the dirty work. Michael is happy to talk about old Hawaii (that would be the 60s and 70s) and Melia simply radiates warmth along with inner and outer beauty. Strongly recommended for value and fulfillment.

There are at least two decent wine shops on Kauai, conveniently found on different shores. On the southeast shore in Koloa just north of Poipu you will find The Wine Shop owned and operated by Dan O’Connell. He has an attractive shop with many name California wines and a nice selection of international. We bought a $15 Cascina Vietti Moscato d’Asti. Yum. He also carries Nani Moon Meadery honey wines made in Kauai which he described with enough detail to prompt our purchases. More on Nani Moon in a moment.

Stephanie Krieger

The Kilauea Town Market & Deli is closer to the north shore; a few miles before Princeville and Hanalei. Located in the Kong Lung shopping center on the way to the lighthouse. The Kong Lung Center and the deli are must stops for tBoW and crew. The deli owner has a superb selection of some of our favorite wines including stuff hard to get in LA. We bought two bottles of Ant Hill Pinot Noir and noted the Uvaggio Rose and Vermentino. After being featured in the September 25 2010 Wall Street Journal article on “The Rock Stars of Pinot Noir” finding Ant Hill is next to impossible. But here were half a dozen bottles from 2006 and 2007. Reviewed below.

The tBoW crew made a cold call on Stephanie Krieger, winemaker and President, at her Nani Moon meadery in Kapaa. We had already tasted her Pineapple Guava Sunset wine and her Winter Sun blend; both reviewed below. She is unique and creative in that she has found a way to fit her concept – making wine in Hawaii – to the environment. We had questions and Stephanie had answers.


tBoW: Why make mead? Why not make wine from local grapes? After all, there is a vineyard on the Big Island and on Mauai.

SK: The island is so wet and fertile that wine grapes (vinifera) actually can turn three cycles in one year which is not great for vine life. It is simply too demanding. The Maui vineyard only provides a small proportion of the juice in its blend. Most comes from California. Hawaii has better resources and I wanted to use those first. While hiking I noticed so many wild bees in the fruit trees. I knew about mead so I thought maybe this might work given my priorities. I also wanted to create a business that would produce a quality Hawaiian product. I wanted to use local resources to make an economic base.

tBoW: What is your annual production and tell us about the blends.

SK: I experimented for about 10 years. Tasting the pineapple wines made from 100% pineapple juice helped me realize 100% any juice is not the way to go. I would have to blend with water and tea. The tea brings down the acid and balances the fruit, giving an earthy quality. I buy the Kauai wild flower honey from local bee keepers. I have been in commercial production just a couple years. My goal is to average 60 cases a month. The blends are kind of a trade secret however the Pineapple has about 5% pineapple in it. I do not reveal the Guava proportion.

tBoW: So making mead wine is basically bottle and go. Quite different from the normal wine cycle. And this is where it all gets done. What about your wine tastes?

SK: I am the only employee. I do it all here from bottling to label pasting to throwing parties. I love parties. I do not have a distributor. I sell only to Hawaiian fine wine shops in Honolulu, Maui and the Big Island. My wines are made with organic and wild crafted ingredients. I learned about wine working in some of the finer dining spots on Kauai were I was a server. My personal palate – which begins with my own wines – includes Viognier, Pinot Noir and Barbera. I prefer Old World wines especially Italian. My wines are right for the Islands.

Nani Moon Pineapple & Guava Sunset $20: Good acid, golden color, well balanced. We can taste the pineapple and the guava. All there in harmony. Black tea is in all her wines, discretely in the background. 11%

Nani Moon Winter Sun $20: She has blended Lilikoi and Starfruit producing a wine reminiscent of Viognier. Crsip, medium weight, golden color. 11%

The Anthill Farms wines were very tasty and it couldn’t have been just because of the weather.

2007 Anthill Farms Anderson Valley Pinot Noir $39: The Kilauea deli has three wines to choose from thought we would start at the lower price point. This is the Anderson Valley blend from the very good 2007 vintage. [ed. coming soon tBow covers the smoke-tainted 2008 vintage from Anderson Valley] The wine was very good, smoky, on the beety savory side of flavors. Great balance, got better with every sip. Mrs. tBoW placed the taste profile in the Santa Rita Hills. 14.1%

2006 Anthill Farms Anderson Valley Demuth Vineyard Pinot Noir $42: The 2007 Anderson Valley blend was good enough to merit trying the vineyard selection, also from a very good vintage. Fuller flavors, medium weight, rich, dark red color. Dark cherries and plenty of stuffing. Had it with seared ahi. Went great. Mrs. tBoW calls it Oregon prime. 13.8%

These young turk inheritors to Williams-Selyem and Rochioli were very impressive. We would love to try the others.

The weather cleared with one day to go and we were able to find the beach. Honey mead wines, aloha shirts, and the prettiest beaches in the islands. A good week.

6 Comments

  1. Wavatar
    mouse says:

    Great stuff. As she says, her wine seems appropriate for the islands. And, she loves to parteeee.

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      Bacchus says:

      Stephanie is a sincere winemaker and a visionary in her own right. One more night and we would have been right there in the party room sipping her mead with everyone in costume!

  2. Wavatar
    Betsy says:

    was wondering if you’d bite on the Navarro smokey deal… I was tempted but was deferring to your evaluation…
    sorry minimal reportage on the Napa trip…. did have some tastes and would definitely recommend Milliken Creek Inn and their in-house tastings (Grgich Hills and Page) and complimentary port bar in the cozy lobby on a rainy night…sorry no photos of the couples’ room.

    • Wavatar
      tBoW says:

      Had a smokem chokem tasting this past Friday featuring two 2008 PN from Anderson Valley including the Navarro. First, the $30 deal (2 PN, 1 Zin) has passed. Results will be published next week as current Hawaiian post stews a bissel. However, just to quiet your gentle whimper, be happy you did not buy.

  3. Wavatar
    wild willie says:

    Brilliant; sounds not the least like typewriter ribbon, I’m enchanted by the prospect of this destination… You’re now Trader BOW. Go far, search on!

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