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Tasting seminars at the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival

If the Kapalua Wine and Food Festival were an adult day camp, then the tasting seminars are the equivalent of wilderness hikes—off-the-beaten path, educational and fun. With the master sommeliers and winemakers as guides, attendees were led through the terrain of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel varietals.

Cab Franc Retrospective


A parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon and one of the oldest grape varietals, Cabernet Franc is undervalued and under-appreciated. Highlights from this panel included a Cabernet Franc from Substance in Columbia Valley, soft on the palate and tasting of red fruit. What's also appealing about this wine is the Substance wine signature label that looks like an element of the periodic table, as well as the price: $20 a bottle.

On the other end of the price spectrum is Verite, "Le Desir" Red Wine from Sonoma County. Verite Wines is a project of Jess Jackson, of the Kendall-Jackson empire, to create world-class Bourdeux blends. The Le Desir is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from three vineyard sites, each with their own terroir. Price: $120 a bottle.

Heal the World with Pinot Noir

After the movie Sideways, Pinot Noir saw a 158% spike in popularity. It's a popular wine in Hawaii, perhaps because it's lighter and pairs better with Asian flavors than say, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tastings at this panel included Pinot Noir from Sapphire Hill Vineyard in Russian River Valley, presented by winemaker Tim Meinken. Little over 200 cases of this wine are made; it was a privilege to taste this fragrant and light wine, at only 13.4% alcohol.

Greg Brewer, owner and winemaker at Brewer-Clifton Winery is intellectual and studious, a former French Literature teacher finding inspiration from "other places, other worlds" in his travels. He brought a Pinot from Santa Rita Hills, floral and acidic.

Zins and Cheese


The most popular seminar, perhaps in anticipation of the cheeses brought by Kent Torrey of The Cheese Shop in Carmel and Santa Barbara. Favorite cheeses included the Noord Hollander, a Dutch Gouda, salty with a slight caramel sweetness; Raspberry Bellavitano, creamy yet sharp with a fruity finish; and Old Quebec Cheddar, aged nine years, intensifying it's, well, cheddar-ness while still retaining a creamy quality.

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