VOLCANO, HAWAII — Wine tasting in Paradise is just a sip away at Volcano Winery on the Big Island. Come taste the local wines inspired by volcanic fire and the bounty of the island. Tropical fruits like yellow guava and the exotic jaboticaba berry are blended with traditional wine grapes and transformed into vibrant creations that capture the playful spirit of Hawaiian paradise – and our relaxed, laid-back atmosphere is the perfect place to try them.
Volcano Winery was originally started in 1986 by retired Oahu veterinarian, Lynn “Doc” McKinney. Having made wine and beer as a hobby for years, Doc planned to open a winery on the Big Island after leaving Oahu. He chose Volcano for its unusual climate at 4000 feet above sea level, and planted 20 Symphony grape vines in the lava-covered land. Encouraged by the Symphony vines’ ability to grow in Volcano’s climate, the 20 vines were followed by planting 14 acres of Symphony Grape Vines.
In the vast wonderland of the Big Island and its abundance of tropical fruit, he also began experimenting with different fruit and grape blends for wine. Soon exotic fruits like starfruit, lilikoi (passion fruit), and even papaya were blended with grapes and transformed into tropical Hawaiian wine. These fruit -blended wines were so original that they were given their own category by the BATF! Doc also experimented with wine made with honey from local Big Island bees who worked the fields of Macadamia Nut and Ohia Trees.
Finally, in 1993 Volcano Winery opened its doors to the public with a selection of some of the most uniquely produced wine anyone had ever made. A lifelong hobby had become a living dream! Originally, the wines that were offered for sale were two versions of pure grape produced wines from the Symphony Grape, two different honey wines, Macadamia Nut and Lehua Blossom, the Red and Blush wines that are blended with the local fruit called Jaboticaba which grows directly on the bark of the Jaboticaba tree a Guava wine and a passion fruit wine.
Several years passed, and Doc continued to experiment with new wines and winemaking. Volcano Winery had gone from a hobby into a full-time position. Ready to “retire” for real this time, Doc and his family decided to put the winery up for sale.
At the same time, Del Bothof, who loved Hawaii and also enjoyed the taste of wine, was planning his retirement to Hawaii. A friend that knew how much Del loved Hawaii saw an advertisement about the sale of the winery and sent the ad to him as information. Del immediately called Doc and after a short discussion visited Hawaii, contacted Doc, and soon the two were talking like long-lost friends. He was introduced to the McKinney family, and before long the sale of the winery was set into motion. Finally in 1999, with much Aloha, Doc passed the torch to Del, and within a few short months what began as a far-fetched idea had truly materialized into reality.
Today the winery is still a family-owned business. Del’s son, Scott, was the winery’s General Manager for seven years, and a daughter and son-in-law also joined the staff for periods during the last 10 years. Two of the McKinney daughters continued to work as managers at the winery for many years and helped grow the winery into a very successful small business. Alana McKinney, wife of the late founder, still visits the winery and continues to contribute to its success.
In the summer of 2000 there was a fire in the vineyard which destroyed many of the original Symphony vines. The lost vines were replaced with the French American Hybrids; Marchael Foch, Chambourcin and Cayuga White. Also planted was the vinifera varietal, Pinot noir. In 2006 the winery began growing tea plants (Camellia sinensis) to use in their newest wine. Infusion, a Tea wine made using their Macadamia Nut Honey wine and Black Teas.
In 2011, Del and Marie Bothof moved full time to Hawaii and now spend their time doing what they love to do which is running the winery on a day-to-day basis. If you stop by almost any day of the week, you will see them participating in the wine tasting or in Del’s case often stuck in the back room taking care of the books and finances!
The winery has seen many changes since it first started some 25+ years ago, but the commitment to produce unique, award-winning wines made with Aloha will always remain in the heart of Volcano Winery! Along with the signature wines which the winery was built on (Symphony Mele, Volcano Red, Guava Wine, Blush, and Macadamia Nut Honey Wine), the winery continues to grow and when it became obvious that the Pinot Noir grape was suited very well to the special cool climate in Volcano, the winery started producing small amounts (about 300 bottles) of Pinot Noir using frozen grapes from California. Now as their own vines are maturing, the winery will be able to introduce their “Estate Pinot Noir” and “Estate Cayuga White” from vines that were planted 4 to 5 years ago.
Although we will have to sell these small volume produced Estate wines by the glass rather than as a part of our tastings, we hope you will join us for some Aloha and taste the uniqueness of a cayuga White or Pinot Noir wine that was grown, produced, and bottled right here at Volcano Winery!