The Spirits of Aloha: Fruit Wines & Mead

Tiffany Patterson
3 min readMar 21


Photo by the author: Oʻahu, Hawaii

En route to wine tastings through the green, mountainous lush of Oʻahu, my Uber drivers’ radios played familiar island sounds of different waters. The reggae sounds of resistance I grew up listening to were morphed with soulful voices and a jazzy vibe to the tune of traditional Hawaiian instruments. Love was sung with vibrant giddiness, sadness with nostalgic bliss, and anger with powerful optimism of overcoming it. The melody artfully captured an impassioned existence surrounded by the environmental beauty we often miss.

Similarly, the local wineries I visited incorporated the beauty of the outdoors in everything from their décor to their brand philosophies that prioritized the wineries’ vinification processes for ensuring waste-free, environment-appreciating, and still delicious recipes.

Notably, the wineries rejected the idea that wine should look, taste, and be made a certain way.

Photo by the author: A bottle of Oeno’s Watermelon Rosé. A wine club membership with international shipping is available.

When referring to Hawaiian fruit winemaking, the owner of Oeno Winemaking shared, “This is winemaking and tasting without the snobbery.” Oeno Winemaking boasts sulfite-preservative-free fruit wines naturally made on-site without compromising taste. As explained for the Limited Reserve Red, dubbed their “economic wine,” the nickname was earned from the winery’s filtering of reserves, or the remaining wine between fermentations, and experimenting with creating new recipes to reduce waste.

Alongside the delectable surprise of “never [tasting] the same wine twice” with the Limited Reserve Red, one of the winery’s most popular fruit wines, the Watermelon Rosé, was suspiciously hydrating and a showstopper. Rico Suave and Mystification still offered natural fruit flavors balanced by a hint of dryness for those who aren’t big fans of sweeter pours like the Limited Reserve Fruit Wine or Mango Dragonade.

Photo by the author: A bottle of Mānoa Guava Mead

At Mānoa Honey & Mead, the sommelier extended a similar sentiment: “There should be wine for everyone to enjoy.” I was excited to learn more about other creative wine options, especially those with a limited presence due to the lack of alignment with traditional winemaking standards and classifications. My visit to Mānoa was my first time tasting honey wine, formally known as mead.

Instead of the fermentation of grapes, mead is the fermentation of honey. Mānoa’s brand is perfect for those who enjoy an earthy, herbal kick to their wine but over a honey base. The Island Obsession line of meads captured florals and tart fruits well, primarily in the Pineapple Sour. The Ginger Honey Hopper tasted like a cross between beer and wine — a fizzy delight of ginger and hops with calming honey.

Taking it up a notch from 7% to 12–13% alcohol by volume (ABV), the popular Slee.Ping.Potion magically captured lavender and wormwood in a bottle to concoct what tasted like spiked herbal tea. As for the Guava Mead, I enjoyed the exposed taste of French Oak that helped make it the winery’s popular recipe with the highest ABV.

Photo by the author: KōHana rum barrels

Visits to Oeno and Mānoa wineries and Mana + Pua wine bar are essential to enjoy local island wines. A trip to Mānoa Honey & Mead is a great starting point for experiencing how the local wineries are part of a cycle of dedicated local sourcing and sharing. For example, Mānoa Honey & Mead, alongside Manoa Chocolates, extend their ingredients to KōHana, a local sugar cane rum distillery. The island’s collaboration to create something for everyone perfectly captures the essence of enjoying wine with others, made from a planet we all can be better at sharing. It is the spirit of bonding, ensuring everyone is included, and giving back; it is ohana.



Tiffany Patterson

Proud first-generation Caribbean-American sharing personal and professional experiences—unapologetically. I aim for reflection, not perfection.