Explore Cali: Malibu Wines Safari

Google "Things To Do in LA" and you'll find a whole bunch of lists that all basically sound the same. Something you won't find on most of those lists is the Malibu Wine Safari at Saddlerock Ranch and vineyard. There are a number of tours to choose from. This past Thursday, my friends Courtney and Gabby and I had the pleasure of taking part in the Explorer Tour.


Upon arrival at check-in, you're given a colored Livestrong-type bracelet which tells you which custom-built open-air Safari vehicle you'll be riding in for the duration of the tour. The tour itself is about 90 minutes and we tasted six different wines. As soon as you pull away from the check-in cabin, you're instantly transported into a wildlife oasis. A small ways into the tour, you're greeted by the resident giraffe, Stanley, who has spent his whole life at Saddlerock Ranch (the tour guides said they're looking for a mate, so if you know of any single giraffes, hit them up). 

We weren't able to get out of the truck here, but we pulled up to more of a farm and grazing area, which was home to horses, zebras, alpacas and more. We were able to get out of the van to feed and interact with the animals. We were warned that zebras don't like selfies, and they bite! Who would've thought?

From here, our tour guides set up wine on top of artful barrels for us to try. The first two were Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and the third was a Rosé. For you college kids and future SULA participants out there (who are 21+!) it goes without saying that the wine here is way better than what you'll find at a frat house. Plus, the view was great – we looked out over the stables and walked up to The Yellow Frame. The story behind the frame is that the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Semler, decided that this was their favorite view, but they found that no photo or painting could capture the beauty of what they saw. So, they installed the frame to showcase their favorite view for everyone who comes to visit. 

Our last stop on the tour was up on top of this massive hilltop, where we sampled three different red wines and munched on crackers and various tapenade. Of course, Court, Gabs and I took a bunch of photos while we were up there. I mean how could we not? – we looked so cute! Mainly, though, you literally feel like you're on top of the world. 

We probably should have eaten before we did the tour...but, luckily we didn't, because our tour guides recommended we try this adorable cafe just a little ways up the street – The Malibu Cafe at Calamigos Ranch. There's a sprawling area with giant versions of games like chess, checkers and Connect 4, but the area was closed off for a private event. During lunch, we sipped on more wine (they pour you a very large glass, don't say I didn't warn you) and ate cajun-style salmon tacos.

When you come to Malibu Wines, you literally feel like you've been transported into a different place, far away from the craziness of the city; it's totally tranquil up in the mountains. Needless to say, this was a Thursday for the books. Good wine, good food, good company – what more could you ask for?

If you know you'll be in LA with time to spare, definitely book Malibu Wines in advance; spots fill up super quick. This was such a great experience and it's one I definitely will not forget. 

Megan Shelton