Maui Food and Dining

Wailea Food and Wine Festival Starts Next Week

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Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon.

By Vanessa Wolf

The Grand Wailea Reflection Pool, the venue for next Saturday’s “DaVine Experience.” Photo courtesy Grand Wailea.

The annual Wailea Food and Wine Festival begins next week.

Events kick off Thursday, December 6th with the VIP Opening Night Welcome Reception at the Fairmont Kea Lani from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

We talked to Bud Pikrone, official spokesperson and General Manager for the Wailea Resort Association about the upcoming festival.


Maui Now: All the chefs involved in the festival work or own at renowned Wailea restaurants. How were the vintners chosen?


Bud Pikrone: We hired renowned master sommeliers Fred Dame and Geoff Kruth, giving them the directive to find exceptional, artisanal wines that complement the extraordinary level of cuisine found in Wailea.

MN: How do you ensure that everyone isn’t serving carpaccio or poke? Drawing straws, plain old luck, or ???

BP: Good question. An example is the DaVine Experience on Saturday night where we have eight chefs. We met with the chefs and actually assigned who was doing the pupu course, the main entrees, which were also assigned to provide a rich variety, and the dessert course. The decisions were based on their strengths which made it fairly easy for us.

Monkeypod Kitchen’s Bulgogi Pork Tacos, which will be served at next Sunday’s “Grillin’ n Chillin” Barbeque.


MN: For those who don’t consider themselves wine experts, is this an event that might be “over their heads” or a good opportunity to increase their knowledge?

BP: I learned about wine through tastings, trying similar wines side by side. All of our events will provide such opportunity to sample the subtle differences between regions or vineyards. This is especially true in our Wine Tasting Encounters where guests not only get to sample the various wines but hear directly from the winemakers themselves what makes it different from their neighbor’s vineyard.

MN: How would you suggest a wine novice approach the festival? 

BP: Have fun, try the tastings, ask the winemakers questions in person, discuss your experiences with friends see what they thought about how a wine worked with a certain dish.

MN: How would you suggest a wine expert approach the festival? 

BP: Even a wine expert never stops learning, and this festival offers a variety of wines and wineries that even a seasoned wine enthusiast may not be familiar with. One of our tastings called “What’s New, Next and Trendy in California Wines,” with topics such as new or older varietals that are being introduced to the area will be interesting for even a seasoned wine expert.

MN: In your opinion, what’s the most exciting thing happening in the world of wine these days?

BP: To me it is the number of small artisanal vintners that are honing their craft with some exceptional wines. I think this has really triggered a new interest in wine on all levels.

The Wailea Food and Wine Festival runs from next Thursday through Sunday night with a wide variety of events in between. Tickets start at $68 (kama’aina) for certain events and a variety of packages are available as well.

We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line.

Dying to know how a certain dish is made so you can recreate it at home? Send in a request, and we will try to pry the secret out of the chef…and even take a run at cooking it up ourselves. Mahalo. -Vanessa (

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