A Month After the Maui Fire, the Island’s Only Winery Faces an Uncertain Future

Maui rebuilds from the devastating wildfires.

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A Month After the Maui Fire, the Island’s Only Winery Faces an Uncertain Future

by L.M. Archer

Paula Hegele will never forget the dark, billowing clouds and the scent of charred earth that in early August enveloped Maui Wine, the sole winery on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

“The winds that came in with the storm were really, really difficult, because they came from every direction,” recalls Hegele, who serves as the winery’s president. In short order, she closed the tasting room and sent her staff of thirty home due to the thick smoke and road closures. “Our vineyard looks across to where the Lahaina side is, and that whole thing that night was just red, glowing with the fire.”

When the flames finally retreated, it became clear that Maui had suffered one of the nation’s most deadly wildfires to date. Miraculously, Maui Wine—which is located on the slopes of the volcano Haleakala between 1,700 and 1,850 feet in elevation—escaped the devastation. But like so many other businesses in Maui that rely on tourism, the road to recovery will likely be long and hard.

One month after the fire, Maui Wine is taking stock of how it can regain a sense of normalcy—and if that’s even possible.

MauiWine Vineyard / Photo by Randy Jay Braun

A Perfect Storm

Maui Wine’s 23-acre estate grows SyrahMalbecGrenacheChenin BlancViognier and Gewürztraminer grapes. It also crushes 300,000 pounds of locally-grown Maui Gold pineapples for its popular pineapple wines, which come in still and sparkling varieties and comprise half of the winery’s 25,000-case annual production. The fires arrived midway through production season at Maui Wine.

“We have our harvest a little bit earlier,” explains Hegele. “So having ferments going, having things to do, you never stop producing.” Subsequent power losses halted refrigeration and other equipment, which could have spelled disaster for this year’s vintage. Luckily, Hegele located a temporary generator to restore power and the fruit was undamaged. READ MORE HERE.

I’m delighted to share my latest article in Wine Enthusiast about the aftermath of Maui’s recent wildfires.

Read more of my work here.


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