ʻAipono Icon 2018

Each year, ‘Aipono honors a few individuals and companies chosen by industry professionals for their contributions to the Maui community. We are pleased to present our 2018 winners.

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C. Pardee Erdman | ʻUlupalakua Ranch & MauiWine

Pardee Erdman
Pardee Erdman, right, with son Sumner.

It’s indicative of Pardee Erdman’s character that when we asked MauiWine president Paula Hegele to tell her boss about his Icon award, “I had to get his permission to accept it,” she says. “Pardee’s a private individual, but I don’t think there are many chefs here who aren’t familiar with him. He’s a great patron of Maui’s agriculture and culinary scene.”

That’s putting it mildly. Erdman came to Hawai‘i in 1963, “and fell in love with the mountain,” says Hegele. That same year, he purchased Ulupalakua Ranch.

Erdman has long supported diversified agriculture. He’s one of several Maui ranchers behind the Maui Cattle Company, and after the demise of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, helped found Hali‘imaile Pineapple to keep that heritage crop’s presence on Maui.

And in 1974, Erdman established, of all things, a winery.

“Pard likes to try things,” Hegele explains with a laugh.

Soon twenty-three acres of ranch land were growing grapes. While waiting for them to mature, the vineyard launched its first product: pineapple wine from Hali‘imaile fruit.

When Kā‘anapali opened in the 1960s as Hawai‘i’s first destination resort, Erdman, a member of the prestigious gastronomy society Chaine des Rôtisseurs, helped establish a Maui chapter to assist local staff in honing their fine-dining skills.

And when his own employees wanted to launch the event that became the Ulupala-kua Thing, Erdman agreed to have it at the ranch—if it was strictly for and about agriculture. “The Thing” ran for twelve years, raising funds for UHMC’s culinary school, the 4H Club, and the Maui County Farm Bureau.

For Pardee Erdman, supporting the future of agriculture has also meant supporting its past. In 2009, he placed more than 11,000 acres of ranch land in a conservation easement with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, and approved the reforestation of indigenous Hawaiian plants in ‘Auwahi.

“For Pard, doing what’s right is paramount,” says Hegele. “Does the company create products with integrity? Are we good employers? Are we serving the community?”

“Through his deep commitment to so many aspects of Maui’s community, Pardee Erdman sets an indelible example for the rest of us to follow. We are honored to recognize him as ‘Aipono’s 2018 Icon.” —Diane Haynes Woodburn, Publisher, Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi Magazine 

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