Maui’s Upcountry Trail
Goat cheese, vodka, lavender, wine and coffee may seem an odd combination and not one you’d naturally associate with Maui, but the rich volcanic soil in the hills leading up to Maui’s main volcano, Haleakala, allows the islanders to perfect each of those foods.
Like most things in the islands, Maui’s Upcountry Trail is a laid-back affair.
“It was very organic,” said the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau’s director of public relations and promotions, Keli’i Brown. “It started when the lavender farm opened up. We’ve always had the Tedeschi Winery, but it wasn’t until the lavender farm that things started taking off. Then the goat dairy opened, and now we have a vodka farm with tastings and a distillery.”
Tedeschi Vineyards, former retreat of Hawaiian King Kalakaua, is a big draw, and Brown advises that visitors start their morning there and then move up the hills to the lavender farm before stopping at Oo Farm for lunch. The chef takes groups through the grounds picking vegetables and then prepares lunch at an outdoor table, weather permitting. On the way back down, Surfing Goat Dairy, next to Ocean Vodka, offers a milking tour and an award-winning-cheese tasting.
“Plan for the whole day because it really can take that long,” said Brown. “When you look on the map, they can look close together; but the hills are deceptive. It takes at least five or six hours.”
Wet weather in the winter and spring and the agricultural cycle naturally dictate the better times for tours, but April, when the Maui County Agricultural Festival runs, is one of the best times to experience Upcountry’s produce.
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