Last weekend I ventured homeward to Southern California to celebrate Easter with my friends and family. Perhaps it’s because I have been traveling for a while, allowing me the thrill of meeting new people, and trying new things… Or maybe I am just turning into an all-out explorer… but I found myself itching for something new and adventurous to spice up my cross country visit.
It should come as no surprise, to anyone that knows me well, that wine had to be involved. Kind of a no-brainer for me… lets be honest. After about 20 minutes of research online, I stubbled upon Malibu Wine Safari’s and couldn’t believe I had never heard of the place.
Malibu Winery is about 20 minutes away from Malibu beach, into the Santa Monica Mountains. At first it was a little confusing as the establishment is so huge… We ended up at the Tasting Room of Malibu Wines rather then the Wine Safari area, which was another minute down the road.
The reason it gets tricky is because there is the Tasting Room, which is really an open-air tasting and event space for the winery, a safari section of the winery, which is where all the exotic animals are roaming the property, and then there’s the Wine Hikes, which allows you to hike and take in the views with stops to try some of the companies delicious varietals.
After checking in, you hop aboard the safari truck and roam around the enormous property, home of the Semler family. Ron Semler bought his first 300 acres after the devastating fire across the region in 1980. While most people thought he was losing his sanity, as the land was deemed unusable after being charred in the wildfire, he saw a business opportunity. Today it is over 1,000 acres of rolling hills lined with vineyards, manicured lawns, large ancient oak tree, bustling rose gardens, and fields of horses and animals grazing in the background.
On the safari we saw and fed llamas, yaks, zebras, donkeys, horses, ostriches, peacocks, water buffaloes, and of course… a giraffe. The funniest part to me were the names of these safari celebs… Michelle O’Llama, Llama Del Rey, Yak Efron, and Justin Zeber, just to name a few.
While I was skeptical about why these exotic creatures are just chillen in a winery in Malibu… I was happy to find out that they are often used in commercials, movies, and print work and have very happy and healthy living environments. Stanley, the Giraffe who so lovingly stuck out his humongous tongue for the camera, had his big Hollywood debut recently in The Hangover 3.
We made two tasting stops along the safari, the first was a beautiful peak overlooking the property where we tasted their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Rosé. The second was in a valley called Camp Cabernet that was filled with vintage campers, VW Vans and art sculptures. Here we tasted Selmer’s Grenache, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon (my personal favorite).
Once we had finished all the snacks of cheese, crackers and tapenade, and finally stopped “revisiting” our favorite wines. We concluded our tour back at the starting point which has a super cute market where you can purchase the sampled in addition to their other vintages, as well as local products and artisanal crafts.
I absolutely loved getting up close and personal with the exotic animals, tasting the variety of wines grown on the property, and exploring all the beautiful mountainous scenery often overlooked when visiting Malibu. Whether you are exploring via the Wine Safari or join one of the wineries many monthly events including: Karaoke Night, Yoga & Mimosas, or Movie Night... Malibu Wines is the perfect off-the-beaten-path day trip while spending time in the City of Angels.