Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, Maui

 

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Spanish Lavender

Spanish Lavender

When thinking about Maui, several things come to mind such as breezy beach days, The Sugar Cane Train, Maui Gold pineapples, wind surfing and fresh fish. After reading this blog post, hopefully you will think of lavender in a whole new light and explore the gardens at Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm while visiting Maui. The first part of the adventure, is the scenic drive up Haleakala to the small town of Kula, sitting at 4,ooo feet. Upon approaching the farm, I thought there was fog in the air and then realized that we were sitting in a cloud looking down on the ocean. We visited the gardens in October when the lavender was not as vibrant in color but the weather was nice and cool. Kula has a MediterraneanIMG_4797 climate consisting of drought-like conditions with a light mist, which allows the lavender to bloom year round. Kula has an average rainfall of just 25 inches per year which is surprising given its green glow. Lavender is not native to Maui, so how did it flourish into these gardens? Ali’i Chang grew up with his grandmother on a 20-acre farm on Oahu where he learned how to plant, prune, farm and fertilize. In 1989, he purchase a protea farm in Kula filled with gardens and flowers. Ali’i was given  lavender in 2001 by and friend and decided to plant it on the farm, which flourished in the climate that Kula offers. The rest is history.

The lavender flowers have a spiral shape and are held on stems, rising above the leaf. Some of the lavender plants display leaves with colored flowers at the end of the stem which are blue, violet or lilac in color and sometimes even blackish purple or yellowish.

Protea

Protea

lavenderDid you know that Lavandula (lavender) is a herb and is part of the mint family? Lavender is commonly found in Cape Verde, Canary Islands, Europe, northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. The benefits of lavender….the plant is grown primarily for the production of essential oil, offering antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Lavender is mixed with herbs such as chamomile in aromatherapy. Lavender, when consumed in capsules, is used to assist with alleviating anxiety and sleep issues due to the high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate. Lavender honey is created from bees feeding on lavender plants and is believed to help in preventing wounds from infection. Lavender flowers, once dried and sealed in bags, provide a fresh fragrance and deter moths.

Let the Lavender Treasure Hunt Begin

Getting the stamp at the Native Hawaiian Garden

Getting the stamp at the Native Hawaiian Garden

Secret Garden

Secret Garden

Admission to the farm is only $3.00 per person with discounts offered to local residents, seniors and military. Children 12 and younger are free. In October, the farm was offering free admission with a canned food item to support a local drive. Daily guided tours are available for $5.00 per person. We opted to walk around on our own, taking in the lavender aroma while exploring! Pick up a treasure hunt card in the store and wander around collecting stamps throughout the botanical gardens. IMG_4812After all of the stamps are collected, go inside the store and collect your goodie. The Lavender Treasure Hunt is a fun way to view the various gardens along beautifully landscaped walking paths. The farm has the most amazing overlooks and ocean views. The crisp air makes for a cool stroll, stopping along the way to take pictures of exotic, tropical flowers, plants and trees.  The 13.5 acre farm includes 55,000 lavender plants and 45 different varieties of lavender.

Scone time!

Scone time!

Saving the best for last….Lavender tea & scones!!! In an effort to promote sustainability, the lavender farm will generously provide a complementary cup of lavender tea or coffee when customers bring their own cup. There’s something to be said for sitting on the lanai, overlooking the gardens, while toasting lavender scones in cool, crisp weather and smothering them with butter and lilikoi jam.

Gift Shop

Gift Shop

Gift ShopBe sure to check out the gift shop on your way out. You will find unique items such as Lavender Raspberry Panna Cotta mix, bath & body products, teas & coffees, honey & jams, scone & brownie mixes, travel sets, jewelry, candles & soaps, essential oils, seasonings, aromatherapy and apparel.

Lavender fields

Lavender fields

$$ Saving Tips: We picked up the map at the General Store and decided to tour the gardens on our own, saving $5.00 per person. Research the property beforehand to ensure that you are not missing valuable information that may have been provided on the tour. Read signs along the way which indicate the plant types. Bring your own coffee mug to receive a cup of FREE lavender coffee or tea. This was a highlight of the trip to do with my daughter and dear friends. Create your own high tea memories for the simple cost of a scone.

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Don’t forget to bring your friends & family for a relaxing stroll through Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

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Ocean Vodka Tour, Maui

Hawaii Sea Spirits

Hawaii Sea Spirits

IMG_3049Setting out for a day of exploration on Maui, we stumbled upon Ocean Vodka. Our guide at the Surfing Goat Dairy tour informed us that Ocean Vodka Distillery was located next door. Hawaii Sea Spirits has created Ocean Vodka and, more recently, Wave Rum which was introduced in September 2013. The first thing you will notice when pulling into the 80 acre property is the still distillation with columns soaring to 60-feet.

Sugar Cane

Sugar Cane

The tour starts off as guests take a seat on the picnic tables overlooking the gorgeous grounds while the guide describes the hand processing of the 27 different native Polynesian varietals of sugar cane grown on property. Ocean Vodka is grown in volcanic soil and certified organic, which means the sugar cane is pesticide and herbicide free. Consumers can find Ocean Vodka in 36 states, Washington DC, and Canada.IMG_3050

IMG_3019Next, we walked along side the sugar cane as the guide described how the sugar cane is harvested and the process by which it is added to the vodka. We asked a lot of questions and he was very patient and informative with his answers.

Heading over to the garden area, where an event was taking place later that day, our guide described the distillation process and green manufacturing. The facility opened in 2013 and was designed to support a ten-fold increase in business with opportunity to include whiskies. Notice the solar panels which line the roof of the warehouse. This allows Ocean Vodka to generate 100% of the power that they use and then a little extra for their community.

Warehouse

Warehouse

Take a walk inside the 6,000 square foot solar-powered warehouse and bottling center where you may just spot Master Distiller, Bill Scott, working on production of the spirits.

IMG_3046Sample time!!! Just what we have all been waiting for, sampling of the vodka and rum. What better way to sample than in an outdoor, open air sampling room where the guide explains the art of spirit sampling. We were fascinated by the process in which the vodka is made with deep, ocean mineral water.

Gift Shop

Gift Shop

At the end of the tour, IMG_3307wander on over to the air-conditioned gift shop to pick up your complementary shot glass souvenir. You will also find Ocean Vodka logo wear, Vodka, truffles and other fun gifts.

First, sample the water and then move onto the vodka and rum. During your spirit sampling, take small sips to allow the flavors and smoothness to set in. I found the second and third sip to be much less intense than the first. Enjoy!IMG_3030

The family friendly tour is $10 per person. Tour includes a sample of vodka and rum or a truffle for those under 21. Complementary shot glass souvenir. Call 808-807-0009 for more information.

Maui Wine on Ulupalakua Ranch

 

Maui Wine

Maui Wine, King’s Cottage

Hula Circle

Hula Circle

While visiting paradise on the island of Maui, take a scenic drive up to Ulupalakua Ranch to tour Maui Wine sitting at 2000 feet above sea level, established in 1974. IMG_1287On the drive upcountry, take in spectacular views of the the islands of Lanai and Molokai. There are several overlooks where you can pull aside and take pictures. Each winery is unique in their own way and at Maui Wine they are known for their pineapple wines! 30 minute tours for the whole family are offered daily at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The tour begins

The tour begins

We decided to tour in the morning since it was in June and we thought it may be cooler. It was the perfect day trip as we dined for lunch and stopped off at a park afterwards. There is a designated parking area at the winery where you will see the King’s Cottage built in 1870. In the picture above, notice the Hula Circle created by cypress trees for King David Kalakaua as a designated area where he could watch hula dancers. The trees are over 150 years old and have since been cut way down and carved. Look very closely to determine what each carving displays.

Hula O Maui, pineapple wine

Hula O Maui, pineapple wine

The tour began in the historical room in the King’s Cottage with a complimentary pour of sparkling wines. First we had a glass of the LokeLani, Hawaiian Sparkling Rose Wine and a glass of Hula O Maui, Pineapple Sparkling Wine.

Family Friendly

Family Friendly

You will be greeted with the fresh pineapple aroma prior to taking your first sip.  Listen as Auntie Em (Emily) describes how the property started out as a plantation, then moved to ranching and most recently, wine making. Take your time looking around at all of the sepia pictures hanging on the wall displaying the ranch families. The historical information is great for all ages. Our kids really enjoyed learning about the ranch as well as the production of wine. The tour is only 30 minutes, short and sweet for all ages.

Make your way from the King’s Cottage to the production area via a pathway along the beautifully manicured property. The 10:30 a.m. tour was nice and cool, a little overcast with ocean views. UlupalakuaIMG_1273 is the perfect place to take pictures and spend time walking around. We made our way down to the production area with the first stop at the machine which skins the pineapples for Maui Wine’s pineapple wines. These wines are unique because they use pineapple rather than grapes. It was our first experience in sampling wines and sparkling wines infused with pineapple. The pineapple wines are made with Maui Gold pineapples. Next stop, the production plant where Auntie Em explains the process of wine making. It was fascinating to find out that Maui Wine does not use any wood barrels to process their wine as it is not conducive with the Hawaii climate and wood eating bugs.

IMG_1270Maui Wine has a fantastic wine tasting bar and gift shop. Kids are allowed in the tasting room but not up at the bar. Our kids enjoyed exploring the gift shop while we took in our 3 samples of complementary wine. I loved the white wines while my husband preferred the estate red wine. All of the wines are for sale at the winery. We left with two bottles of wine and a “Maui Wine” etched wine glass to bring home as a souvenir.

Tasting Bar

Tasting Bar

If you are tasting wines with someone else, share the samples so that you can actually sample 6 varieties. The staff are very knowledgeable about the wines. They even informed us as to which wines are for sale at our local Costco and which wines are sold only at the winery. The information provided by the staff helped us in choosing which wines to purchase and bring home. We signed up for their mailing list to receive information about upcoming events such as parties, holiday festivities and local music.

Ulupalakua Ranch Store

Ulupalakua Ranch Store

After wine tasting, walk across the street and have a bite to eat at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store. Located in a green, plantation-style house with a lanai to sit and dine at Paniolo style. Choose from Maui Cattle Company’s slow roasted cattle brisket, Upcountry Caesar salad, Elk or the famous Ulupalakua Lamb Burger. If you like sauces, you will love dining at the Ranch Store!

Brisket wrap

Brisket wrap

Each table has house made BBQ sauces to choose from and some are really spicy! You will smell the BBQ smoke while touring Maui Wine. The best part is that the Ranch Store serves only Maui grown produce! While waiting for your food to grill, shop around the store which features local artisan products.

 

King's Cottage

King’s Cottage

Open Monday- Sunday 10 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.