(Jan. 2017) As Californians we usually take advantage of inexpensive airplane flights to Hawaii at least once every other year for a relaxing vacation. Only a 4.5 hour flight from San Francisco, you can fly direct to Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, and enjoy the year-round warm weather. However as wine lovers living in the Napa/Sonoma region, we usually bring our own wine – packing 6 to 8 bottles in the special wine airline case my husband gave me for my birthday several years ago. This is because the wine selection in the islands is usually sparse and over-priced. However, on this trip, we were in for a big surprise.
This time we decided to stay on Oahu, because we hadn’t been there in a long time, usually preferring the wild freedom of the Big Island with all of its natural foods, white beaches, and great golf courses, or staying on the lush beauty of the island of Maui. We chose Oahu this time because my husband hadn’t yet played golf at Ko Olina or Turtle Bay, so we booked 3 days at the Four Seasons Ko Olina using United Airlines miles, and got a great rate on an Airbnb condo at Turtle Bay. As usual, we brought our wine with us.
Surprise, surprise though! The first morning in Ko Olina we walked over to the local ABC Store to buy a cup of coffee and a breakfast loco moco – a local Hawaiian favorite made with egg, rice, hamburger and gravy. ABC stores are the most common convenience store in the Hawaiian Islands selling souvenirs, coffee, and quick take-out food. However we discovered that the ABC Store in Ko Olina is a new bred called Island Country Markets and has one of the most amazing collections of wine I have seen – even in California.
It is a beautiful selection of not just Napa and Sonoma wines, but includes choices from Santa Barbara, Monterey, Paso Robles and other regions of California. It even has delectable pinot noirs from Oregon, and a special glass case of high quality wines from around the world, including Gaja and Sassicaia from Italy. Even better the prices were reasonable, and made it so that it was no longer necessary for us to bring our own wine – at least to Oahu. ABC Island Country Markets plans to open other locations, but currently they are only in Ko Olina.
So I picked up a bottle of chilled New Zealand sauvignon blanc to drink on the balcony of our hotel room, and we enjoyed the other wines we had brought with us in our condo at Turtle Bay. The last night we grilled local steaks on the BBQ and enjoyed them with a plush Napa Valley Peju Cabernet Sauvignon before watching the sunset on the beach.
Ah Hawaii. I love it there, and just have to figure out some way to live there at least one month out of every year…
See my other post on the wineries of Hawaii at: http://www.winetravelstories.com/2010/01/wines-from-hawaii.html