Hawaii winery marks its 25th year

KAHULUI, Hawaii -- Maui's Tedeschi Vineyards dates from 1974 when the ranch began experimenting with grape varieties. Three years later it opened to the public, introducing its Maui Blanc pineapple wine, which remains its best seller -- more than 250,000 bottles are sold each year.

Of 150 grape varieties tested, the ranch settled on the Carnelian, which produced the best yields and acid-sugar balance. There are 22 acres of grapes on the mountain slopes one mile from the winery and ranch headquarters.

In 1980, the first grapes were harvested, and four years later the winery released its first grape product -- Maui Brut Blanc de Noirs. Maui Brut is produced in a manner similar to French champagne. The bottles remain in cellars for three years and are turned an eighth turn each day, by hand, for 90 days.

In addition to Maui Blanc, there are two other whites: Maui Splash (pineapple-passion fruit) and Maui Blush, similar to a white zinfandel. Besides the brut, there are two other sparkling wines: one pineapple, the other the light and dry Rose Ranch Cuvee. Reds, introduced in the last five years, are Ulupalakua Red, a light table wine, and the bolder Plantation Red.

Tasting room prices start at $6.95 a bottle for the three whites. The others range from $9.95 for the Ulupalakua Red to $18.95 for Maui Brut. State law prohibits mail-order sales, but the winery has a list of its six mainland distributors, which can provide information on retailers. Tedeschi Vineyards wines are sold at retail outlets throughout the state.

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