by Lynn Cook
photo by Olivier Koning
If you’ve dreamt of being a vintner,
you’ve probably thought of Napa, maybe Willamette, possibly Bordeaux. But Kapahulu? Nah. Well, get ready to decant your perceptions into a whole new bag. At WINE, The Experience, you’ll find a do-it-yourself vineyard of sorts, where you can brew and bottle your very own vintage. If you’ve always been a bit of a plonk wonk, now’s your chance to expand your expectations. WINE, The Experience offers a friendly tasting room with fifty varietals—red and white—from all over the world. The wines offer ideas about what you might produce, and the process works like this: You drink and ponder the range of possibilities. Next, you select a juice from a premium winery. Then more decisions: Should you heighten the oak? Add a bit of vanilla? A touch of smoke? Will it be filtered or unfiltered? One thing is certain: There won’t be any added sulfites. (Shannon Ball, one of the owners of WINE, The Experience, assures that no sulfites means no headaches and no hangover.) Yeast is sprinkled, there may be an incantation or two, the barrel is sealed. And then you bide your time—and think about designing the label.
"It’s worth the wait," Shannon assures. A Punahou graduate, he moved to Boston for college, studied biology and art, worked in restaurants, learned to appreciate good wine. He moved to Los Angeles, did medical research, wrote poetry, sculpted. When he was home on a break, his dad, John Ball, said he’d been chewing on an idea: He wanted Shannon to come back to Hawaii and open a winemaking shop. The two toured U.S. and Canadian wine country—looking, listening, sipping—and found a growing number of establishments where wine could be bottled. Inspired, they opened WINE, the Experience in Kilohana Square. Just like the pros, they will sell no wine before its time, so you’ll have to wait about two months to return and bottle your creation. By then it will be ready to drink—and, Shannon promises, in a year it will be even better.
WINE, The Experience