Reader Question Answered


A blog reader asked a question about moving to Maui, purchasing land, and starting a business:

“Hello! My husband and I were very interested in opening a small winery on Maui. We visited the only winery currently on Maui and we’re disappointed that we couldn’t enjoy a bottle on premise and enjoy the beautiful view. We were wondering if you knew how difficult it is for outsiders to buy land and start a small agricultural business. Thanks.”

Answer: Maui has 12 to 14 different climate zones. And probably that many types of soil. If you were planning to purchase land, I would get a soil test before putting in an offer, and also find out what type of soil and climate the grapes you intend to grow need.

An example of this going very wrong was Kaanapali Coffee Company. A group came in, purchased the land, and brought in a California firm to set the place up. Unfortunately, the California firm did not do their homework about the soil and climate conditions, and the coffee farm failed. One partner hung in there, got the correct plants for that soil, and they are now doing well!

So don’t count on a mainland firm to know what they’re doing on Maui soil, and be sure to do your homework.

As far as it being hard for outsiders to buy land, it’s not. Just be sure you are getting “fee simple” and not “lease – hold.” That way you will own the land outright, instead of leasing it back from another landowner, which was the practice here for many years.

Also, ask lots of questions about water rights on Ag land. Water is ALWAYS a hot- button issue on Maui

I wish you the very best of luck in your venture! Thank you for reading along.

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Aloha, Jamaica