On the southern shoulder of Haleakala is Ulupalakua Ranch, a 20,000-acre spread once owned by the legendary sea captain James Makee, celebrated in the Hawaiian song and dance “Hula O Makee.” Wounded in a Honolulu waterfront brawl in 1843, Makee moved to Maui and bought Ulupalakua. He renamed it Rose Ranch, planted sugar as a cash crop, and grew rich. Still in operation, the ranch is now home to Maui’s only winery, established in 1974 by Napa vintner Emil Tedeschi, who began growing California and European grapes here and produces serious still and sparkling wines, plus a whimsical white wine made with pineapple juice. The grounds are the perfect place for a picnic, provided you purchase takeout deli fare at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill across the street (outside food is not allowed). Settle under the sprawling camphor tree, pop the cork on a blanc de blanc, and toast your good fortune. There’s a charge for tasting a flight of five wines ($12–$14), but the twice-daily half-hour tours of the grounds are free. Three times a week the staff offers 40-minute historic tasting tours in the Old Jail, a stone building that was once Makee’s private office, with more select wines to sample. Tip: Try to arrive before the lateafternoon bus tours returning from Hana, whose passengers can suddenly crowd the tasting room.
Across from the winery are the remains of the three smokestacks of the Makee Sugar Mill, built in 1878. You may do a double take at the people lounging on the front porch. On closer inspection you’ll see that they are not “people,” but the work of Maui artist Reems Mitchell, who carved the mannequins on the front porch of the Ulupalakua Ranch Store: a Filipino with his fighting cock, a cowboy, a farmhand, and a sea captain, all representing the people of Maui’s history.