If Kahau Manzo is right, "biodynamic" will soon become as much of a household word in wine lexicon as "body" and "bouquet."
"Biodynamic agriculture (see article, below: "Sustainability is key…") is the newest concept in winemaking," said Manzo, executive chef and director of food and beverage for the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas on Kauai.
"I think we’re going to see a lot more biodynamic wines on the market in the future as wineries worldwide recognize the important roles ecology and sustainability play in producing their products."
In January, Manzo attended a two-day retreat at the Sheraton Waikiki for executives of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii. The retreat’s final event was a tasting of eight biodynamic wines by Mendocino Wine Co. from Ukiah, Calif.
Although Manzo had sampled biodynamic wines before, they hadn’t impressed him. Mendocino’s offerings, however, piqued both his palate and his interest. "They were fantastic!" he said. "They had depth and character, and they were all very different."
Manzo and Marc Bennor, the Westin Princeville’s director of fun, had been thinking about launching a fall event at the resort. After attending the Mendocino Wine Co. tasting, their ideas began to gel, and voila: The Westin Princeville Jazz and Wine Festival was born.
"We knew several similar events at beautiful locales like ours already were being done in Hawaii, but none of them featured biodynamic wines exclusively," Manzo said. "That’s what sets our festival apart."
WESTIN PRINCEVILLE JAZZ AND WINE FESTIVAL
» Place: Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, Kauai
» When: 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 25
» Tickets: $95; must be 21 years and older.
» Call: 808-827-8700
» Notes: The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is 200 feet above Anini Beach on Kauai’s north shore. It encompasses 346 studio and one-bedroom villas with a kitchen or kitchenette, dining area, washer/dryer and Jacuzzi bathtubs. Amenities include four pools, a two-story clubhouse, a general store and Nanea Restaurant. This vacation-ownership project also offers villas as hotel rooms for those seeking larger accommodations.
» Kamaaina rate: $189 per night for a studio villa (70 percent off) is good through September. Call 866-716-8140 and use the KAMJAZZ reservation code.
» Website: www.westinprinceville.com
Seventeen biodynamic wines from 10 wineries in California, Washington state and New Zealand (including the Mendocino Wine Co.) will be poured at the inaugural event on Sept. 25.
Vintners from all the wineries will be on hand to explain their unique growing and production techniques.
"Winemakers know that the type of soil, weather conditions and other environmental factors give grapes, and ultimately wine, their special characteristics," Manzo said. "That’s why winemakers are leading the biodynamic movement worldwide."
The Jazz and Wine Festival also celebrates the farm-to-table concept embraced by many fine restaurants in Hawaii.
"What this means is ingredients for dishes are sourced locally and, in most cases, purchased directly from farmers," Manzo said. "Our tasting menu will showcase products grown and produced on Kauai."
He will prepare ahi hekka with glass noodles, seared ahi sashimi and ginger scallion puree, as well as warm mango upside-down cake with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream.
Chef Franco Diaz from The St. Regis Princeville Resort will serve Maui onion tart made with Kunana Farms goat cheese and topped with Hawaiian chili pepper, lemon basil and creme fraiche along with slow-braised pork belly with roasted macadamias, Big Island hearts of palm and Kauai papaya.
The two offerings of chef Ben Takahashi from the Sheraton Kauai Resort are braised Aakukui Ranch short ribs with Hamakua mushroom ragout, creamy polenta and chimichurri sauce; and laced salmon over Kauai shrimp tempura roll with avocado and crab mix, bonita flakes and ponzu glaze.
Chef Aaron Leikam of 22*North will contribute Aakukui Ranch steak frite with watercress, bleu cheese, pickled onion and sherry vinaigrette plus hot doughnuts with Hawaiian chocolate sauce and honey caramel.
Live jazz by the Michael Ruff Trio, the Kenny Endo Trio and Tennyson Stephens and Friends will round out the evening. "Think of incredible food, wine and music in an incredible place," Manzo said. "Life doesn’t get much better than that!"
SUSTAINABILITY IS KEY TO A FARMING SYSTEM THAT EMPLOYS A HOLISTIC AND ORGANIC APPROACH
In the early 1920s, a group of farmers sought the advice of Austrian philosopher and scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner. They were noticing a marked deterioration in soil conditions, seed fertility, crop quality and the health of their livestock.
By then, Steiner had earned acclaim for his work in anthroposophy, or "spiritual science," which suggests that wisdom and knowledge can be obtained via methods other than weighing, measuring and calculating with the five physical senses.
In response to the farmers’ concerns, Steiner presented eight lectures revolving around the theme "The Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture" in June 1924, just a year before his death. That series in Koberwitz, Germany, formed the basis for "biodynamic agriculture" — the first modern ecological, sustainable farming system.
Biodynamic agriculture is not only 100 percent organic, it also employs holistic, regenerative farming techniques that are in tune with nature and focus on contributing to the environment rather than taking from it. Like other organic approaches, it shuns chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and promotes diversity through crop rotation and mixed plantings.
In addition, however, growers avoid using any materials that come from outside their farm. They may plow their fields with horses instead of tractors, and plant and harvest according to the phases of the moon or the positions of the planets. They may make soil preparations from herbs, crushed crystals, and manure from their own free-range animals, including goats, pigs, sheep and poultry.
Proponents of biodynamic agriculture regard their farm as a living, self-contained, self-sustaining organism; waste in one part of the property nourishes and rejuvenates other parts. Care of the soil is a top priority, the thinking being healthy soil yields healthy crops, which, in turn, yield food that is free of toxins, lasts longer, is more flavorful, and is better for our bodies and the Earth.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Advertiser have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.