What it’s really like on a wine tasting safari

Malibu Wine Safaris is part vineyard, part wildlife habitat, and possibly the only place in the world where you can go wine tasting while you kick it with exotic animals. It’s part of the family-owned Saddlerock Ranch and Vineyard, which is 1,000 acres of heart-expanding natural beauty, nestled in California’s Santa Monica mountains above Malibu’s famed coastline.

Photos: Cove Collective; Malibu Wine Safaris

The vino-fueled adventure begins with you hop on an animal print, open-air safari vehicle and take off through the property’s rolling hills lined with endless rows of vines. You’ll ramble along picturesque canyon views with hundreds of horses grazing in the distance. Every time the vehicle stops, you get to do one of two things: wet your palette with a wine tasting, or feed the resident four-legged friends, which gets exponentially more fun the tastings you consume. The 20 species that are living the good life at Saddlerock include zebras, llamas, yaks, alpacas, horses, and camels. Of course, this is LA, so all the animals are aptly named – you’ll meet Justin Zeber, Llama Del Rey, and Yak Efron, to name a few.

Photos: Cove Collective; Malibu Wine Safaris

But the real star of the show is Stanley, a towering giraffe who made his Hollywood debut in The Hangover 3. He’s anything but camera shy, and is keen to take a selfie so long as you reward him with a snack. Other animals with movie credits include a gorgeous white thoroughbred who performed stunts in The Lord of the Rings, as well as two bison, Chipotle and BBQ Sauce, who were both extras in a John Wayne film.

Photos: Cove Collective

The idea for a wine safari came to fruition after the Semler family, who purchased the land in the 1980s, went on a safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The family already had rescue animals living on the property, so they thought an Indiana Jones experience would be a great way to share the ranch – as well as wine made with grapes from their own vineyards.

Malibu Wine Safaris
Photo: Cove Collective
Malibu Wine Safaris
Photo: Cove Collective

The first tasting on the safari is a palatable set of whites and rosé, which you’ll enjoy after climbing over a canopy bridge where you can soak up the gorgeous vistas. The second tasting is Saddlerock’s best selection of reds, served in a valley called Camp Cabernet that is home to the yellow VW van from Little Miss Sunshine. You’ll have another chance to taste your favourite at the end of the safari, and we couldn’t help but pick up a few bottles to take home with us.

Wine, cute animals, and the California sun – it really doesn’t get much better than that!

Malibu Wine Safaris
Photo: Cove Collective

Read also: Top 5 African safari tours and travel tips

Read also: Top 7 wine bars in Singapore, because wine

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Shannon Valdes

The token expat of the WanderLuxe crew, Shannon is a true Southern California girl at heart with an insatiable love for bikinis, craft beer, and Mexican food. While she’s typically on the hunt for sun & sand, she’s also a snowboard powder hound and an aspiring ice cream sandwich connoisseur.

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