Bikevolcano.com combines bike tour with wine tasting
Hawaii visitors jonesing for a bike tour now that cycling down Haleakala is no longer an option can head for the Big Island.
Bikevolcano.com Inc. was incorporated in March and has been guiding visitor-viewing of Volcanoes National Park via velocipedes -- followed by vials of Volcano Winery vino.
Okay not velocipedes, really, but mountain bikes fitted for riders 12 years and older who are at least 4-feet, 10-inches tall. The young'uns don't get any wine.
The tour touts a mostly downhill ride, "but it's a moderate descent," with no steep hairpin turns, said Gwendolyn Hill, owner. "There are no extreme speeds going on, like on Maui."
Her customers have ranged in age from 12 to a man "approaching 80 ... he did wonderfully," she said. It didn't hurt that he was a former triathlete.
There is an uphill portion of the tour, but riders can hop into the escort van at any point of pavement. The tour begins about 10 a.m., includes lunch and wraps around 2:30 p.m., seven days a week, weather permitting. It costs $130 for the bike tour, $100 for riding in the van.
This is Hill's second cycle as a bike tour operator. She and a partner established Adventure Tours Inc. in 1994, but the partnership dissolved in 2000.
She was unsure she could shoulder the business alone, but "I got the courage and reopened under bikevolcano.com."
The winery component came about because the national park required Hill to collect customers outside the gate.
"Both of our businesses take place in the Volcano area, and we were looking for a local business where customers could meet our tour van," she said. Volcano Winery "said they would welcome my guests there. All I had to do is bring them to the winery for a tasting session after the tour."
Her customers enjoy tasting the different wines as well as the opportunity to buy gifts, she said.
The arrangement has worked well, said winery owner Del Bothof. "We get a lot of comments. We have a guest book and people actually write in it," he chuckled.
Lest MADD get mad, Bothof says folks only get three total ounces of wine even if sampling all six fruits of the winery's labors.
"This is strictly a tasting room ... they can't even uncork it on our property," he said.
The cordial glasses used hold "one-and-a-quarter ounces if you fill it up and we don't fill it up."
The winery will ship wine for customers, and offers e-commerce for those who can't make it back to Volcano or to isle retailers that sell the wine.
Volcano Winery is growing pinot grapes and planning a major expansion. It has already expanded enough to export wine to restaurants and retailers in Japan, which should commence in January, Bothof said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org