May 20, 2016

Photo Essay: Malibu Wine Safari, On Foot

As fun as it was riding a safari truck around the Saddlerock Ranch last year, I felt like everything was whizzing by a little too quickly.

Everything was just a little too far away.

So when I found out that the Semler family had started leading hikes through their property...

...including their vineyards of red and white grapes...

...and the rock formations that mark the boundaries of their property...

...of course I signed up.

Sometimes it's better to walk across the grass and along a dirt path than to drive down a paved road.

In both excursions, we got to meet some of the animals of Saddlerock Ranch...

...but this time we stopped by the area where they board horses -- and Shetland ponies! -- for other people.

And while it was fun to share our carrots with them...

...the llamas and alpacas were waiting for us.

In fact, they were so excited, they ran down the hill from the trees to the fence...

...scrambling for a snack...

...tolerating our coos and cuddles for a chance to nibble at our carrots.

The Marley boys -- this time, Ziggy and Damien -- seemed particularly happy, free of the fly masks that covered their eyes last time.

It's not like these guys are malnourished...

...or even starved for attention...

...since lots of those safari groups swing by this area and get out to feed the animals.

But they are incredibly social -- and even though they have each other, they've gotten acclimated to having humans around. They might even like us.

When Ron Semler originally purchased the property in a literal fire sale, it was because he was looking for a place for his daughter to board her horses.

Well, now that she's grown up and has left the horses behind to move to Chicago, the ranch has expanded into so many other types of animals -- like this redhead named "Heather" -- sometimes making for some odd bedfellows.

The zebras are the few (if not the only) animals on the property that were actually purchased and not rescued. And, since they're a male and female pair, they're "the gift that keeps on giving."

They've already had a few babies while at the ranch, though only one of them is with them now in their corral.

The rest have been distributed elsewhere throughout the ranch.

Some of the other animals even have their very own "pet zebra"...

...most notably, Stanley, their celebrity giraffe (who, on this day, was in black tie for a wedding).

We also came across a lone camel named "E.T." who was rubbing himself on a tree...

...and took some prodding to get him to come over and say hi and have a carrot.

But once he did, he didn't want to see us leave.

After hiking for over two hours, though -- and in relatively mountainous terrain -- we were thirsty, and it was time to (finally) drink some wine.

The Malibu Family Wines tasting room is a nuthouse on the weekend, so I probably wouldn't ever go near it on my own. But when you take a hike with one of the Semler boys (or any of their other hike leads), you get VIP treatment. The crowds literally clear for you.

If any confused souls wander up trying to order a glass or a bottle, they get shooed out of your "private tasting."

And wine never tastes better than after a good hike on a sunny morning.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Wild Wine Safari
Photo Essay: Rosenthal Malibu Estate Vineyard Tour
Photo Essay: The Terroir of Baja Wine Country

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