Over 15 years ago, I fell in love with the islands of Hawai’i, and vowed to live there some day. After spending the past five years in Las Vegas, Nevada and what a memorable, wonderful experience that was! it was time to make the goal happen. Relocating from California to Las Vegas in 2012 was simple. It felt like being a tourist visiting Las Vegas, just for a longer period of time. Surprisingly enough, the transition from Las Vegas to Hawai’i hasn’t been too difficult either, which makes sense since Las Vegas is often known as “The Ninth Island.”

In the meantime, I will still continue my Wine Talk column here with the Las Vegas and sometimes SoCal Food and Beverage Professional since I will be traveling back and forth, but you may see the occasional article based on an event, venue, interview, etc., in Hawai’i. Being that Hawai’i Oahu specifically is such a travel and tourism-based island, it is no wonder that food and beverage is such a large focus here, just like in Las Vegas.

After visiting here several times, I have learned about some of the go-to locations for all things beverage. While future articles will focus on single venues or themes, this month, I will highlight some of the key beverage events, retail shops and tasting venues that I have discovered so far.

Hawai’I Food & Wine Festival

The largest annual F&B event would have to be the Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival, whose series takes place on Hawai’i Island, Maui and O’ahu. The festival is intriguing as the founder/CEO, Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, as well as the primary team involved consists of an all-female team. The event chairs are the renowned Hawai’i chefs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi. The festival consists of multiple events scheduled throughout the course of five days. Oahu is the most event-filled location, with events like “Sun Noodle Presents Clash of the Ramen” and “Foodtopia.” Of course, the event would not be complete without two premier tasting events: “Masters of Meursault with Antoine Jobard” and “The Rarities Tasting.” Make sure to check it out or plan your trip to Hawai’i around this fun-filled event!

Wine Retail Stores

Time and time again, I’ve been recommended to go to Fujioka’s and Tamura’s for a wide selection of beverage offerings. What’s great about these locations are that you not only can find newly released vintages of wines, but they have selections of reserve, or older vintage wines as well.

• Fujioka’s Wine Times: http://www.fujiokaswine.com

• Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors: www.tamurasfinewine.com

Now, what you won’t find in Las Vegas wine shops are the concept of “poke bars.” Poke is a dish made up of cubed raw fish, typically seasoned with ingredients like shoyu soy sauce, garlic, green onion, sesame, onions, etc. Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors offers an extensive poke offering, include my two favorites, salmon poke and crawfish poke, with specials on poke bowls.

If you are a sake fan, however, then the place to go is The Sake Shop. The name explains it all. How can you resist a shop dedicated to the art of sake? Of course, there is a selection of other offers as well, such as Sochu, Umeshu, etc. Visit http://sakeshophawaii.com for more information.

Wine Bars

There are so many wine bars and shops in Hawai’i, definitely too many to list here. However, one location that I have been to is Amuse Wine Bar at the Honolulu Design Center: amusewinebar.com/amuse-drink

This wine bar is a great choice for those who want a little bit of art, a little bit of design and a little bit of wine tasting thrown in the mix! Amuse Wine Bar offers over 80 wines using their preservation and pouring system. Guests can purchase a rechargeable card and self-serve with different size pours. A variety of other beverages and food selections are also available, and the venue has a chic, modern atmosphere. The Honolulu Design Center also houses several other venues, such as INspiration furniture showroom, Cupola Events Theatre, and other food venues Stage Restaurant, Stage Café.

Next Up!

On my “To Visit” list are the following wine and other beverage bars, shops, and restaurants; check out their websites to learn more:

• HASR Wine Co. - www.hasrwineco.com

• The Wine Stop - www.thewinestophawaii.com

• The Liquor Collection - www.liquorcollection.com

• Island Mana Wines - www.islandmanawines.com specialization in dry tropical fruit wines

• Vintage Wine Cellar - www.vintagewinehawaii.com

• Kakaako Wine Loft & Sake - www.wineandsake.com

Mahalo, and I look forward to periodically sharing tidbits of the beverage and some food industry on the island of Oahu and the Aloha spirit with you in my future articles!

Aloha, and until next time, Cheers~!