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Red Camper

Travel Guide: Malibu Wine Safari

December 10, 2019

Miles' guide to the Malibu Wine Safari - the wines, the animals, and more!

Following a few days of sightseeing in downtown LA and Pasadena, we arrived in Malibu to join childhood friends from Chicago – all meeting to celebrate our mutual best friend. The next morning after breakfast (with the pacific waves crashing directly under our terrace) we embarked on our adventure which we were told nothing about other than the dress code being California Casual! Strategically piling into my rented 3 rows of seating SUV (Sorry California, we would have the ability to all travel together), we were on our way.

After navigating winding mountain roads with both beautiful vistas and heartbreaking sites of fire damage, we arrived upon the gates to a winery. We were greeting by a guide in safari gear and asked to sign a waiver – both intriguing and concerning! I had guessed correctly that we were embarking on a safari, though the safari vehicle was a bit of a giveaway.

Our 1st stop on an 1100 + acre family ranch was the white and sparkling wine tasting; I loved the beautifully etched glassware with the Sembler family name and Saddlerock logo! We leisurely tasted the wines while walking the grounds and learning the fun names of the animals (some rescued, some born at the ranch), meeting horses, llamas, donkeys and a Shetland pony to name a few all under the shadow of the Saddle Rock formation, the ranch’s namesake. Legend has it that the rock formation is said to look like a saddle on the ranch. We were asked not to touch or feed the animals, though I found myself compelled to bend a willow branch so a smiling horse could snack!

On our second stop, the reds, we met zebras, a family of alpaca, Scottish highland cattle, bison and water buffalo! All the animals were enamored with the dogs that strolled by with the Sembler family (the ranch’s owners) who, despite having their family home destroyed by the Woolsey fire, were happily walking the property, smiling, and greeting guests.

On stop 3, we met the star of the show – Stanley the giraffe! Stanley is quite the accomplished actor in Hollywood and caused quite a stir in the press along with his fellow ranch mates during the fires!

On our last stop we got to see a car museum being constructed out of shipping containers as well as interesting new construction housing that was very contemporary in design in comparison to the original architecture of the main house. Dispersed throughout the property were parts of a sculpture collection that survived, one of which reminded me of looking at the landscape through the National Geographic Logo! The property was dotted with vintage airstreams and trailers – all brought in personally by the family following the fires to house the team and their families that make this special place run.

This “casual, hang loose, California vibe” winery was a refreshing departure from the hustle and bustle of our city lives and not what you would expect a wine tasting in the mountains to be. We are all eternally grateful for the experience that has been created and not only recommend a visit but look forward to returning to see what comes of what was lost in such a slice of paradise.

My Favorite Pun Names of the animals:
Barrack Ollama
Michelle Ollama
Dali Llama
Llama Sutra
Kendrick Lllama
M Night Shamallama
Llama Odum
Justin Zebra
Hillary & Hailey Buff & Safariana Grande (Water Buffalo)
Yakkity Yak and Don’t Talk Back (2 Tibetan Yak’s)

Susan Brunstrum
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