WHEN HAYATO NOGAKI took over as food and beverage director at The Resort at Pelican Hill® in December 2017, he gave himself a few months to check out the dining programs to see what might be done to elevate the guest experience at the Resort’s renowned Italian restaurant, Andrea.

“I came to the conclusion that everything was already top-notch,” says Hayato, who launched his career at Maui’s Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. “But the Resort is celebrating its 10th anniversary, so I thought: How can we give guests not just an exquisite dining experience but a lifelong memory?”

Hayato answered his own question by introducing a unique series of exclusive wine dinners, the first of which, featuring BOND wines, took place in August.

Wine dinners these days are hardly unique. But the ones Hayato has developed — he hesitates to even call them “wine dinners” — are truly spectacular. First, each featured label is rare, in the capital-R sense of the word. Signature vintages from Napa Valley’s BOND, for example, whose portfolio of grand cru cabernets typically go for between $300 and $700 per bottle, are sold to oenophiles who add their name to multiyear waiting lists and snap up the wines at auction. Second, the co-host of the evening is typically the winemaker him- or herself, as was the case for the second dinner, when Opus One’s Michael Silacci showcased several vintages to pair with the world-class cuisine prepared by the Andrea chef de cuisine.

“A winemaker like Michael Silacci is an oenophile rock star,” says Hayato. “He’s a true artist. How often do we get to interact with someone like that? It’s like being invited to the world premiere of a new Steven Spielberg movie, which in itself would be pretty fun. But what if Spielberg actually sat down and chatted with you? That’s what we’re doing with these events.”

At Andrea, a place à table with Michael Silacci or with any of the upcoming winemaker rock stars can be almost as difficult to obtain as a tasting at the Opus One estate. The dinners, which Hayato feels are “exactly the kind of unique, intimate experiences The Resort at Pelican Hill is known for,” are held approximately four times a year and are limited to some two dozen guests. They often sell out quickly.

“The stories from the winemakers are informative and entertaining,” says Hayato. “Guests not only want to taste these rare wines; they also want to hear the behind-the-scenes details that only someone like Michael Silacci can share — and that’s when the magic happens. I think that anyone who has been fortunate to have attended one would tell you it was well worth it.”

For information and reservations regarding upcoming wine events at Andrea, please call 949.467.5946.

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