Bottle Your Own Blend

After I attended culinary schools in Tuscany and visited wineries in Napa, I figured my luck with good wine had run dry. I’m not a wine snob — I like the $7 bottle with the cool label at Safeway just as much as the $300 bottle at Vintage Cave.

You can imagine my excitement when my husband surprised me with a tasting at Kailua’s hidden gem, Oeno Winemaking (26 Hoolai St.). Nestled in the shopping plaza that also houses Kailua Town Pub & Grill, Oeno is named after the Greek goddess who could turn anything into wine.

The incredibly friendly owners, Bryon and Marshall, greeted us immediately and went out of their way to tell us about the local artists who display their artwork on the walls, as well as give us a rundown of the in-house bottling process they use. We weren’t the only customers there, but we sure felt like it!

Oeno makes and bottles wine from around the world. During a tasting, you get to try a selection from various regions, including reds, whites, sangria and dessert wines. In addition, you can bring your own pupus for snacking while you sample — does life get any sweeter?


A fan of robust reds myself, the Spanish Tempranillo was my favorite from our tasting list. A rich blend of berries, anise and black pepper, the initial fruitiness faded to a smoky flavor with notes of mushroom and earth. We paired it with Kerrygold’s Dubliner cheese and balsamic — a delightfully bold treat for my tastebuds.

And because I find it unfair to compare wine and port to one another, the White Chocolate Port is in a league of its own. A heavier flavor than I’ve tasted in port before, it felt like a thin layer of chocolate was coating the inside of my mouth, which paired nicely with the strawberry I ate afterward.

As our tasting came to a close, we decided to indulge in the real treat at Oeno — signing up for winemaking and bottling. We chose to make and bottle Chianti (my husband’s favorite) and the Spanish Tempranillo. One barrel yields 28-31 bottles of wine, and fermentation takes four-to-six weeks. My favorite part was that we were allowed to design our own labels. Fast forward six weeks and we were ready to bottle! At Oeno, you get to fill all the bottles, cork them, shrink the foil hoods over the tops and put your labels on.

We enjoyed this process just the two of us, but I think it would be perfect for a night out with friends, birthdays or any celebration that involves wine. So that’s pretty much anything, am I right?