And the award for the smallest AVA goes to….


For decades—since 1983, when it was first established—the Cole Ranch AVA held the title as the smallest AVA in the United States. However, as of June 30, 2021, there’s a new (tiny) kid in town, and it is the Ulupalakua AVA.

The Ulupalakua AVA is unique in many ways—including its location on the Hawaiian Island of Maui. Ulupalakua is Hawaii’s first and only AVA (to date), as well as the southern-most AVA of the United States (it sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the 20th parallel). However, maritime influence and elevation helps to make this tiny corner of the 50th state conducive to quality viticulture. Believe it or not, grape-based wine production was first introduced to the region in the early 1800s—although pineapple wine and other fruit wines were (and remain) a specialty as well.

These days, there are 16 acres of vineyards located within the Ulupalakua AVA. Leading grape varieties include Syrah, Grenache, Malbec, Chenin Blanc, and Viognier. Varietal wines—Syrah is a specialty— blended wines, and sparkling wines are crafted (under several different brands) by the nearby Maui Winery, many of them using estate-grown grapes.

About that new “smallest AVA” title, here are the statistics of our two teeny contenders:

  • Ulupalakua AVA:
    • Total land area: 70 acres
    • (Reported) acres planted to vine: 16
    • Date established: June 30, 2021
  • Cole Ranch AVA:
    • Total land area: 150 acres
    • (Reported) acres planted to vine: 55
    • Date established: May 16, 1983

And the winner of the title smallest AVA in the United States is…the Ulupalakua AVA!

P.S. As part of my day job with the Society of Wine Educators, I’ll be updating the material in the 2023 Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Study Guide to describe the Cole Ranch AVA as the “smallest AVA in California.”

References/for more information:

The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas…

About bubblyprof
Wine Writer and Educator...a 20-year journey from Bristol Hotels to Le Cordon Bleu Schools and the Society of Wine Educators

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