Living in the San Francisco Bay Area with famous wine neighbors like Napa and Sonoma it is easy to take wineries for granted. And although there are wineries in every state now (really, I looked it up) that doesn’t always mean they are good!
So when I received my itinerary for my trip to Hawaii and saw Volcano Winery on it, I was definitely curious. However, you only have to spend a few days (heck, hours) on the gloriously fertile Hilo side of the Big Island to realize this land is blessed and produces magical things from its soil. It is not such a leap to go from food to wine, particularly when you are located on the side of a volcano which adds rich minerals to the earth.
Given that there are only two wineries in all the islands I was really excited to meet the Bothof family for a tour of the property and tasting. Volcano Winery, while small, is beautiful and above all else, friendly. How many of you have been to wineries that were snobby or pretentious? Yikes, that is a lot of hands! Won’t happen at Volcano. Probably the nicest wine folks I have ever met, everyone really enjoys what they are doing and it comes out on the tour, in the tasting, in the service.
And please, leave your inner wine snob at the door because Del Bothof and winemaker Andrew West are doing some very interesting things with their wines. Besides the limited quantity estate Pinot Noir and Cayuga white they bottle, they have two red wines (Volcano Red and Pinot Noir), two white wines (Symphony Dry and Symphony Mele) and a blush (Volcano Blush).
And then it gets interesting. They are blending their already delicious wines with local fruits like Jaboticaba (which came from Brazil via the Portuguese), guava and macadamia nut (it is a fruit!) honey (which comes from Big Island Bees).
The result? Not your average wine!
Some people may turn their nose at this, but these blends are award-winning, some of them multi-award-winning…so take that, wine snobs! Since I had the pleasure of tasting them all, along with to-die-for Parmesan and artichoke cheese dip topped with macadamia nuts, I can tell you first hand that whether you go for traditional wines or unique blends, the Volcano Winery has something for you.
And just when you thought I was finished, another surprising twist. Tea.
The Volcano area where the winery is located has been working diligently to become a recognized region for tea. In 2005, researchers, working with the University of Hawaii, received a grant to plant the first trees. Like Kona coffee (and everything else I discovered) tea flourishes here (to read more this article from Keola Magazine is really informative).
The Bothof family helped grow the tea industry by planting their own tea plants and creating products like brewing tea and a blended wine. Their Infusion wine is white wine blended with the macadamia nut honey and black tea and it is delicious and refreshing.
The Volcano Winery is the perfect destination to check out while visiting the Big Island. You can stop by before or after your visit to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or as a break, if you’re are cycling in the area, or just picnic and explore. The weather is nearly always perfect and they are open every single day except Christmas! Come for the wine (or tea!), stay for the warm, friendly environment and tell Logan the farm cat (who followed Del and me around the farm the entire visit) that I said hi!
How about you? Have you visited the Volcano Winery? Did you know there were wineries in Hawaii? Would you visit? What do you think of their unique wine creations? Do tell!
My visit to Hawaii was courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, my visit to Volcano Winery was comped. But as always, all opinions are my own.
You can also view more of my trip to the Big Island in my Big Island of Hawaii for Foodies Wanderlist on AFAR.
More of my Hawaii Big Island stories:
- [mis]Adventures in Loco Moco in Hilo
- [mis]Adventures in Kona
- [mis]Adventures in Hilo Redux
- Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
- Hawaii – Hilo Grown Tour
- Hawaii – AgriTourism
- Hawaii – Greenwell Farms
- Hawaii: Hamakua Mushrooms
- Hawaii for Foodies: Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort
- Da Poke Shack
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