Mele Kalikimaka is the Thing to Say..

Going to Hawaii is always easier than coming home. Not just for the obvious reasons of getting off the plane in paradise versus snowy New England, but adjusting to the time change is easier when you gain 6 hours. Typically we leave early in the morning and get the Hawaii the same day at about 9 or 10 at night. We’re exhausted from a day of travelling already, and it’s bedtime when we arrive, so we get a full night sleep and are out of bed by and ready to go by 8am! Especially since Bob’s Coffee is waiting for us in the kitchen. And if you’re not familiar with Bob’s Coffee, it’s a delicious blend of Baileys, Cask and Cream, Kahlua and freshly whipped cream in Kona coffee. Sounds rough, doesn’t it?

So we arrived and had about a week to spend with my parents before our guests arrived and the wedding reception. My parents are members at Hokulia, a golf club near their house, so we had a few dinners there and played a few rounds of golf. I’m not a golfer, but I do love driving a golf cart around paradise.


The clan on the course

The clan on the course

After golfing we had to sit down with the club Sommelier, Nathan to pick out the wines for the reception. Oh darn, sitting in paradise tasting some beautiful wines.


Here’s all the wines we tasting, and I put an asterisk next to the ones that were eventually served.


*Michel Olivier Tete de Cuvee Cremant de Limoux Brut Rose ~$15 – Delicate and light with fresh aromas of raspberry, strawberry and fresh flowers. Crisp bubbles offer balance on the rich palate with notes of sweet peaches and strawberries. As a wedding gift, a good friend of ours gave us a whole case of this delicious and amazing sparkler! We probably drank the entire case as a family between the wedding and New Years Eve. But I’m going to need to get my hands on some more ASAP!

*2012 Champlou Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), Loire, France ~$20 – There are sweet floral aromas that lead to a medium body with sweet apple notes and a soft acidity. Vouvray is an excellent alternative to a chardonnay, without heavy oak but with a touch of sweetness. (3.5/5)

2012 Palmina Malvasia Bianca, Santa Barbara Country, California ~$25 – Fresh mineral aromas are balanced by notes of sweet grass and peach. The palate has green grass, minerals and a salty characteristic with a dry finish.

*2013 Feudi San Gregorio Falaghina, Southern Italy ~$15 – Bright citrus aromas of apple and grapefruit lead to a light bodied and crisp palate. Hints of toasted nuts are balanced by mineral and citrus flavors on the long finish. Falaghina is a fairly underappreciated white, and an excellent replacement for Pinot Grigio.

2008 Bouchard Pere & Fils Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru, Cote du Beaune, Burgundy, France ~$30 – Elegant and soft, with aromas of ripe red berries, mushroom and chalk. The palate is delicate yet layered with textured notes of truffle, earth and a hint of spice with touch of vanillin oak. I absolutely loved this wine, but it’s such a specific expression of Pinot Noir so we decided to go with one that was a bit more palate friendly.

2012 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California ~$45 – There are dark aromas of blackberry, baked cherry and a hint of earth. The palate offers sweet berry flavors, smooth vanillin oak and rich, mouth-drying tannins.

*2010 Fiddlehead Fiddlestix Seven Twenty Eight Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California ~$40 – Bright cherry, cola, nutmeg and clove aromas are balanced by soft notes of raspberry and blackberry. The palate is elegant and soft with bright fruits and smooth vanilla. This is a wonderful Pinot Noir, and I could easily drink this every day!

*2008 TorCalvano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Sangiovese), Montepulciano, Italy ~$19 – Blackberries, Bing cherries, and plums are balanced by spice and earth. Balanced and smooth, the palate offers hints of vanilla with soft tannins and a long, cherry and espresso finish.


What a tough day! So many difficult decisions, but somebody’s got to do it!

We saw some absolutely beautiful sunsets. Check out that green flash at the end of the time lapse! It’s hard to see, but it was one of the most clear green flash’s I saw all trip.


We went to the beach to check out the waves – there were probably 10 foot swells during most of our trip, which was pretty awesome to watch. Especially to see how many surfers were out in them.


Christmas Eve we had some fantastic wines before dinner with neighbors.

1999 Santana DVX by Mumm Napa, Napa Valley, California – A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with aromas of toasted nuts and white flowers. The palate is creamy with delicate notes of apples, almond and brioche.

2011 Scout’s Honor, Napa Valley, California ~$40 – A blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Charbono, this proprietary red blend offers big bold Zin-like aromas: jammy, fruity and sweet. The palate is soft and delicate with dark fruits, cinnamon, vanilla and spice. There are hints of black pepper and blackberry fruits.

Christmas Day was an especially difficult day.

Christmas Day was an especially difficult day.

Jeff and I went to one of my favorite spots: Kukio. It’s a private beach owned by The Four Seasons Hualalai, but they have a limited number of public parking passes that they give out if you get there in time. Thankfully we did, and spent the day reading, napping and watching the turtles.

Our official turtle count at the end of the day was 12!

Our official turtle count at the end of the day was 12!

We watched a few just chilling in the water less than 10 feet from our chairs. We thought they would crawl up the sand to join their friends, but they kept us waiting.

After spending the day in the sun, we had a big family meal with the neighbors – about 20 people, two turkeys and a ham! With lots of wine, kareoke and dancing.

And of course, my dad blowing the conch shell at sundown.

And of course, my dad blowing the conch shell at sundown.

Henriot Brut Souverain Champagne, France ~$45 – Sharp and crisp with aromas of fresh apricot and green apples. The palate is smooth with elegant notes of lemon, brioche and apricot.

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir Marlborough, New Zealand ~$15 – There are bright aromas of ripe cherries and plums. The palate is clean and smooth with structured notes of black cherry and vanilla.

Dave Phinney Locations F-2, France ~$18 – Deep and dark aromas of ripe cherry, blackberry, spice and lavender lead to a supple and rich palate. There are notes of crushed plum black tea, coffee ad strawberry. The smooth palate is balanced with notes of dark berries and fig.

To work off all that wine, Jeff and I took another bike ride across town to the old airport. It is the old landing strip with a beautiful beach park, a perfect place to relax for a bit.


We had lunch with the parents at Kona brew, and then prepared for the arrival of our first guests: Jeff’s brother and sister in law. They celebrated their ten-year anniversary on New Years Eve, so this was a perfect time for them to take a vacation sans kids. After they arrived, my parents told me that a “surprise guest” was coming in, and that I needed to go to the airport to pick them up. After racking my brain thinking of who it could possibly be, I was shocked to see my best friend, Lauren step off the plane! My parents flew her in so that she could photograph the wedding ceremony. I had zero idea that she was coming and it was an absolutely perfect surprise!


She flew halfway around the world and is much too busy photographing the sunset to talk to me.

The very next morning, one of our neighbors and friends offered to take us all out on his fishing boat. This was hands down, one of my favorite adventures in Hawaii. We got up at sunrise and headed out five miles straight out to do some fishing.

Sunrise fishing

Sunrise fishing

Lauren reeling in some Ahi

Lauren reeling in some Ahi

After fishing for a few hours. Steve took us into Captain Cook in Kealakekua Bay for some amazing snorkling. The only way in is by boat, or kayak. Steve dropped us off for a bit and left to fish a bit more while we snorkled around. It’s a dolphin resting area, so sometimes you get to see them, but we missed out on this trip. Unfortunately Claudia felt a little seasick during it all, so she didn’t have nearly as much fun as we did, but it was still an awesome day.


That evening John & Cayla finally arrived, and shortly afterwards, Jeff’s brother Max from Kauai. They were bummed to miss the fishing adventure, we they made it in time for the wedding!

In preparation, Lauren, Cayla, my mom and I relaxed and got ready slowly while drinking some more fantastic champagne. For Christmas Jeff and I got my parents a wine club membership to Chandon, thankfully we were there to taste them all!

Domaine Chandon Etoile Tete de Cuvee, Napa Valley, California ~$80 – Fresh aromas of lemon and citrus flowers are balanced by a palate of honey, apricot and hazelnut. Hints of nectarine and honey are layered on the rich and elegant finish.

Domaine Chandon Etoile Rose, Napa Valley, California ~$50 – There are elegant aromas of raspberry, strawberry and flowers. The palate is textured with fresh strawberries, vanilla and nutmeg.

Then we headed down to Hokulia for the wedding ceremony. My mom and her friend Susan planned and decorate the entire event and it was amazing. It was such a unique and special ceremony filled with Hawaiian tradition. I couldn’t even begin to do it justice, so check out Lauren’s blog post with the pictures and details of the ceremony. When we got home, my parents Jeff and I unwound with some fantastic port from Orin Swift.

Muté California Dessert Wine $30 – Rich, ruby with notes of cassis, blackberry, plum jam and cherry. Notes of sweet berries are balanced by hints of toffee, caramel and vanilla. Think port, but not ruby and not quite tawny.

The next morning, we loaded up my dads jeep and Johns rental and headed out to Waipio Valley. There is a beautiful lookout at the top of the valley, but if you have 4-wheel drive and a sense of adventure, you can drive down to the black sand beach at the bottom. There are some homes at the bottom, and they aren’t a big fan of tourists, so you have to make sure to be respectful.

Waipio Valley Lookout

Waipio Valley Lookout

It’s just over a half mile road that drops 800 feet. It’s pretty frightening heading down – it’s a one lane road for most of it, and the cars coming up have the right of way, so there are a few pull-off points to let cars pass, but it’s pretty wild. Once you get to the bottom, you’ve only made it halfway. You can turn right and head to the beach or turn left to try and make it to the waterfalls. We headed left first and there are just a few streams to cross..


Sorry it’s a bit blurry, you can’t slow down in the stream.

When you get to the end of the road, the only way to get any further is to head directly up stream. Seriously, drive in the stream. We stopped and chatted with another jeep that just came out of the stream. He said it was a little deep in places but that we could do it if we wanted to get to the waterfalls. We decided against it since Jeff was driving my dad’s precious jeep and John was driving a rental. So we turned around and headed towards the beach. Getting to the beach is another adventure in itself! Driving over muddy boulders and through some muddy puddles. But we finally made it!




The waves were a bit intense and the surge was strong but that didn’t stop Lauren and Claudia from boogie boarding. We had some friends meet us there as well, so while Jeff dug a giant hole in the sand, I chatted with friends, John and Cayla took a long walk down the beach. When they came back, they had some big news, so we immediately put Cayla in the hole to celebrate!


What a perfect spot to get engaged! I may have had some inside-knowledge, so we also celebrated with some more Michel Olivier bubbly.


Jeff and his brother Max of course built a massive cairn.


A beautiful drive home.

A beautiful drive home.


It’s a toss up which day was my favorite, early morning fishing and snorkling, or off-roading with all of my best friends.

By this point our friends started to leave.. Max headed back to Kauai to celebrate New Years Eve with some of his friends and the rest of us got fancy and celebrated Leon & Claudia’s ten-year anniversary at Hokulia. And then they left the next day to spend a week on Kauai with Max. Lauren left later that same day, and then Jeff and I only had one more day.


We had some fresh coconuts at the beach with John & Cayla and then had dinner with my parents before taking off for home. John & Cayla had another few days to spend in Kona. They did some adventuring and played golf with my parents. We all had an amazing trip together – one that I’ll be dreaming about for years.

2 thoughts on “Mele Kalikimaka is the Thing to Say..

  1. Pingback: ICYMI: #EveryGlass WineDown | Born Thirsty

  2. Pingback: Spring… or Winter Whites | Born Thirsty

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