WINE WITTICISMS . . . There were lots of belly laughs and fine wines to be had at the 31st annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival over the last weekend at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. Is it because the two go hand in hand?
Or was it hand to mouth?!
John Williams, owner and for a longtime winemaker at Frog's Leap, likes to tell how he came to Napa with "$200 and a motorcycle and ended up only $10 million in debt, so things are doing pretty well."
Proprietor Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards was spotted at Honu Seafood & Pizza in Lahaina with Margarette (his wife, not in the picture) during a break from the Kapalua Wine & Food festival last weekend.
CARLA TRACY photo
Of course, no one excels in the fun factor more than Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards & Winery, who announced to the hushed attentive crowd in the ballroom from his spot on stage that his pinot noir was, "seductive, alluring," shouting, "heck, it's SEX IN A BOTTLE!"
Then Pisoni went on to say, "one of my sons grows the grapes, the other makes the wine, so now all I have to do these days is DRINK!"
No wine snobbery there.
"This year was fantastic and just wait until you see the 2013 event," says The Ritz's general manager and vice president Tom Donovan. "Visa continues to be a sponsor and we've secured celebrity chef Gary Danko, who has a namesake restaurant in San Francisco."
AROUND THE TOWN . . . Back to Pisoni, he and his Italian wife, Margarette Pisoni, were spotted by yours truly on Sunday at Honu Seafood & Pizza in Lahaina. Owner Mark Ellman has recently launched a new weekend brunch there from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and scores of diners were happily checking it out.
Ellman says he's planning another trip to Bali and he'll be emcee June 22 at the Savor The Sunset benefit for Lahaina Public Library. It will be held at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Kaanapali and the meal will be cooked by the resort's executive chef Bernardo Salazar.
"Up to 400 are expected to feast on Italian-style pasta and other dishes. The third annual benefit described as 'the party of the year in West Maui' will feature the hot, hot JD on the Rocks Band and a free wine tasting," says publicist Norm Bezane. "Last year was a sellout." Call Liz May at 669-5200 for tickets to the event.
BITS AND PIECES . . . . So many restaurants are gearing up to open here or switch over to new owners it's hard to keep up.
We hear Andaz Wailea Resort & Residences will have an informational booth at the Taste of Wailea on Saturday, but it won't open until next spring in the old Renaissance Wailea Beach Hotel.
"There will be two bars, a spa with a food program, resort restaurants and a specialty restaurant that will be outsourced to a private chef," says Andaz's General Manager Michael Stephens.
Targeted for a soft opening June 21 will be The Bistro at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel near both Costco and the airport in Kahului.
" 'Eat, drink and connect at Courtyard' is the tagline for The Bistro," says the hotel's General Manager C. Kaleo Kenui. "We'll have great flat breads, ribs, fresh salads and items to 'grab and go' right before your flights. We also have a fire pit to relax and unwind, kick back with a cocktail and light pupu with your friends."
Wailea Wine has a new owner, Ed Mikesh, former rep for Southern Wine & Spirits and manager of the old Vino in Kapalua Resort.
The Makawao Third Friday Town Party is coming up this week and of course, there will be lots of vendors selling food at various booths.
This time around, Baldwin Avenue between Makawao Avenue and Brewer Road will be closed from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The theme is "Summer Fest," and you may groove to live music on three stage and savor ono food by Star Anise, Badua Catering, Outrigger Pizza, Kinaole Grill, Relish the Dog, Puerto Rican Food Truck, Polli's Mexican Restaurant, Shaka Pops, Da Local Banana, and more! While in town, do check out the Aloha Cowboy Store on Baldwin Avenue, which has an electric train track with five engines suspended from the ceiling. We hear that the owner Rene Wineland named it after her late husband, Roger Dailey. It's called the Makawao Dailey Express.
Of course, if you wish to be far from the maddening crowd, head to Makawao Steak House for a civil sit-down meal with your choice of slow-roasted prime rib, chicken, pork chops, calamari and lobster.
The Maui Okinawan Festival will jump from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with pig's feet soup, andagi (donuts), and more at the Maui Mall.