Craft tours offer a diverse taste of the Valley Isle
Maui Craft Tours offers four guided tours — Taste of Maui, Taste of Upcountry, Field to Glass and the Ultimate Craft Adventure — that feature various combinations of 10 purveyors.
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When they travel, some people love to sightsee. Others prefer meandering through parks, museums or shops. The top priority for Carrie Adelmann and her husband, David, is seeking out the best food and beverage producers — from small farms to boutique wineries to craft beer breweries.
“By doing that, we learn about the history and culture of the areas, meet wonderful people and try things that we’ve never heard of before,” Adelmann said. “That deepens our travel experience, and we’ve met many people who feel the same way.”
Having witnessed the tremendous growth of Maui’s craft food-and-beverage community over the last decade, the couple saw an opportunity to help tell that story. They wanted to offer tours that spotlight the efforts of visionary producers who are championing eco-conscious growing and manufacturing techniques while establishing Maui as a world-class foodie destination.
IF YOU GO: MAUI CRAFT TOURS
>> Where: Meet at Maui Tropical Plantation, 1670 Honoapiilani Highway, Waikapu, Maui
>> When: Start times between 7:15 and 10 a.m. Check in 30 minutes before your tour.
>> Cost: $179 to $329 per person, including transportation, walking tours at each stop with guided tastings, a locally sourced lunch, games and prizes. Kamaaina receive a 10 percent discount. Reservations required.
>> Phone: (808) 633-1801
>> Email: email@example.com
>> On the Net: mauicrafttours.com
>> Notes: Tours vary monthly; check website for schedule. Participants must be at least 16 years old and at least 21 years old to sample alcoholic beverages. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Bring a valid photo ID and a sweater for cool upcountry temperatures. Private and custom tours available.
Thus was born Maui Craft Tours. Launched in February, with the Adelmanns as co-owners, the company offers four guided tours — Taste of Maui, Taste of Upcountry, Field to Glass and the Ultimate Craft Adventure — that feature various combinations of 10 purveyors. Adelmann knew all of them well as a food enthusiast and from jobs as the beer buyer for Whole Foods Market on Maui and the tasting room manager for Maui Brewing Co.
Food partners are Surfing Goat Dairy, the Mill House, ‘Hali‘imaile General Store, Maui Gold Pineapple Company and Kula Country Farms’ produce stand. Ever since the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement was launched in 1991, local chefs have won the praise and attention of gourmets around the world for their innovative uses of fresh local fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.
Lesser known is the fact that the state’s wine, beer and spirit producers also are winning national and international awards and accolades. Adelmann points out the highlights of Maui Craft Tours’ beverage stops.
Mill House Roasting Co. : “Every tour begins here with a cup of freshly brewed coffee,” she said, which is sourced from Maui Tropical Plantation, where they’re located, or farms on Maui and occasionally Hawaii island, Yemen, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia. “Guests on our Ultimate Craft Adventure enjoy a variety of coffees and a workshop that explains the history of coffee in Hawaii and different growing, roasting and brewing methods.” Tuesday and Thursday tours observe the roasting process.
Hawaii Sea Spirits : The farm and distillery produces organic vodka and rum from organic sugarcane. “They’re growing 30 varieties of Polynesian cane in other fields both to educate visitors and to ascertain yield and taste profiles in the distillation process,” she said. “They’ve also made a significant investment in sustainable energy sources, including solar panels on the roof of their distillery, which generates enough power to meet 30 to 40 percent of their needs.”
MauiWine : “In the mid-to-late 1800s, MauiWine’s 27 acres were part of Rose Ranch owned by James Makee, a retired whaling captain. A cottage was built on the grounds for King Kalakaua, a good friend of Makee’s, to use during his visits. It’s now the tasting and history room.” The tour, as part of the Ultimate Craft Adventure, includes the winery and a tasting in Makee’s office, “which was dubbed the Old Jail because the basement was where wrongdoers awaiting transport to the county jail were held.”
Haliimaile Distilling Company : “Twelve rum, vodka, gin and whiskey products are being made in a World War II Quonset hut with either super sweet Maui Gold pineapple or their remaining supply of sugar from Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, which closed its central Maui operations last December.” The operation is based on Maui Gold Pineapple Company’s plantation, providing the freshest fruit possible, she said. “Of the more than 400 kinds of vodka in the world, their Pau Maui Vodka is the only one that’s distilled from pineapple juice.”
Maui Brewing Co. : “Maui Brewing is the largest craft brewer in Hawaii, and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at their 42,000-square-foot production facility,” she said. “Our tours include samples of their four flagship beers plus your pick of one of two dozen seasonal brews, some of which are made with local crops such as guava, strawberries, lavender and lilikoi.”
On the rides between stops, participants learn about the history and future of agriculture on Maui, including the impact of invasive plants on farming, the effect large pineapple and sugarcane plantations had on water allocation and the importance of making environmentally responsible business decisions.
“Like our partners, we are advocates of water conservation, alternative energy sources and sustainable practices,” Adelmann said. “We produce very little waste on our tours because, among other things, we give each guest a reusable souvenir beverage cup and use only glass cups, metal utensils and porcelain or metal plates for our lunches.
“We pride ourselves on tours that feel less like tourist activities and more like fun, educational field trips and insiders guides to some of the best dining experiences on Maui.”