The upcoming Four Seasons Maui Wine & Food Classic is a glimpse into the future of travel: Americans are seeking experiences that are as memorable as they are transformative, and they’re seeking luxury. And this Classic, the first of its kind, aims to deliver.
“This is about changing a culture of how we experience wine, and in a region that will make an impact,” says Christian Navarro, president and co-owner of Wally’s Wine & Spirits and a man regularly dubbed “sommelier to the stars.” Wally’s is co-creator of the Classic with the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, oceanfront celebrity haven where the inaugural three-day foodie spectacular will take place March 1-3.
“We’re living in an era where people are forgetting to listen,” Navarro continues, referencing the trend toward larger, impersonal consumer events that define the American wine industry today. The Classic, with a three-day guest total hovering around 200, “is immersive and all about intimacy.”
He adds: “We want to change the way we look at cultural experiences. Instead of these giant events where you have sea of people and a gazillion wines, I want to make it smaller.”
Navarro has curated an impressive list of almost three dozen world-class wine producers for the Classic, most of which will be represented by their founders, family figureheads and lead winemakers: Colgin, Maison Joseph Drouhin, Kistler, Louis Roederer, Dom Perignon, Taittinger, Bisol, Moet and Cheval Des Andes, to name a few. California powerhouses include Harlan Estate, Krug, Newton, Williams Selyem and Wally’s own proprietary Napa label, Marciano Estate.
Asks Navarro, “Where else would you be able to mingle and speak one-on-one with folks like this?”
The Classic coincides with Wally’s own renaissance — a 50-year L.A. wine powerhouse that has managed to reinvent itself in the last three or so years, pivoting from a wine-centric family of shops to a pair of gastronomic destinations in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
The Classic’s island setting, and its connection to the Four Seasons Resort Maui, is instrumental to its legitimacy and success, too. Set in Wailea, on Maui’s southwestern shores, where sunshine prevails more than 300 days out of the year, what’s considered one of the best Four Seasons properties in the world “is a little piece of paradise that will allow all of us to let our guard down and just talk and interact.” Maui-sourced ingredients and products will feature prominently during the event. And the resort, one of only four AAA 5-Diamond properties in all of Hawaii, is already a culinary destination all its own, with renowned eateries like Spago and Ferraro’s on-site and no fewer than 20 full-time sommeliers on staff.
The partnership between the Four Seasons Maui and Navarro launched about a year ago, when the lavish resort finished renovation on its Elite Suites, super luxurious top-tier accommodation options. The famous wine pro was brought on to create enhanced wine experiences for guests — more than half of whom herald from lucrative ZIP codes from Santa Barbara to Bel-Air — who were investing $14,000 a night on their tropical getaway. Aside from sourcing uber-premium wines, Navarro established one-on-one, somm-led wine courses, “glassology” classes on world-famous Riedel glassware and ultimate wine-pairing dinners.
March’s Wine & Food Classic will feature a series of Master Classes ($250) led by vintners and master sommeliers, ranging from “Napa Valley Superstars” and “A Discovery of Pinot Noir” to “Louis Roederer Champagne & Roederer Estate: France vs. California” and “Louis XIII Cognac.” The “Oceanfront Gala” ($495), set on one of the hotel’s most popular overlooks, will feature plenty of mingling.
And guests will have five Elite Wine Dinners ($995) to choose from, hosted throughout the resort and starring labels like Colgin, Harlan, Pio Cesare and Chateau Cos d’Estournel. At a recent media event at Wally’s Beverly Hills, Chef Ryan Kluver previewed his multi-course dinner featuring Marciano Estate wines: the BBQ Pink Opakapaka, a native Hawaiian pink snapper, was served with grilled avocado and coconut rice, while the Ribeye Cap, rubbed with Maui coffee, came with a Maui onion farcie, Okinawa sweet potato and a tamarind jus.
Events can be secured individually. The all-inclusive Wine & Food Package, which includes a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Maui and pairs of tickets to six events, including the experiences above as well as a farewell sparkling wine brunch, starts at $6,194. Find out more at www.fourseasons.com/maui.