The designers of Zip Yosemite, Experience Based Learning, focuses on adventure and safety in building their courses, but they also take care to look after the environment. The company uses Professional Ropes Course Association–accredited builders, who anchor single cables to trees using an environmentally-friendly system. Using this system, the company can string seven ziplines up to 1,000 feet long at heights of up to 80 feet through the aromatic canopies of incense cedars and ponderosa pine trees. Guides take visitors darting down these single-cable paths and across three suspension bridges. Then, they rappel toward the forest floor at one of two rappelling stations. As visitors glide through the forest, they can catch glimpses of wildlife as well as the Fresno Dome and other natural rock formations.
For three generations, the family at Ficklin Vineyards has nurtured 35 acres of portuguese vine varietals to sustain a supply of small-production California-style port wines. Plum-flavored notes blossom from bottles of spicy Old Vine Tinta port ($15), and bottles of chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry passport ($14) arrive at palates with fruit-infused flavors and up-to-date customs papers. Sauces such as the raspberry-chocolate port sauce ($18) help to accentuate desserts, and the L'Andalus orange aperitif wine ($30) inaugurates pre-dinner revelries with hints of apricot, honey, and orange blossom. To commemorate the rarity of exceptional growing seasons and Harlem Globetrotter losses, the Ficklin family bottles a vintage-dated port in limited quantities of 1,000 cases. Eight vintage ports have been bottled in the past 50 years, marking seasons such as 1996 ($36), 1988 ($41.25), and 1957 ($360).
Raisin Hell Ranch welcomes both grim reapers and gleeful roamers to its spread of spooks and scares. With the VIP combo ticket, you’ll have unlimited access to the ranch’s three haunted attractions. In Scarecrow’s Revenge, über-peeved scarecrows look to rejuvenate their soulless strawed selves with human flesh, human blood, and minimal plastic surgery, and Chupacabra Feast unleashes the bloodsucking creatures of cryptozoological lore for a mayhem-filled meet-and-greet with an unsuspecting public. Raisin Hell Ranch’s third scare site, Black-Out Maze, is a starchy labyrinth of masterfully carved twists, turns, and dead ends, with guests tromping through a 2.5-mile maize maze without the aid of flashlights or maps. The Black-Out Maze’s design celebrates the 100th anniversary of Fresno State, a corn maze that sneakily disguised itself as a college via well-placed classrooms and academic essays.
California, like its European counterparts France and Italy, is synonymous with wine. During A Celebration of Wine, libations from 60 regional wineries fill tasting glasses. In addition to rich reds and crisp whites, cuisines from more than 30 central-California eateries are represented. This salute to epicurean taste is organized to raise money for the enology department at Cal State University, Fresno—it's the rare chance to drink wine and support education at the same time. The event itself is even educational, as a cooper takes the stage to perform a popular demonstration of how classic oak barrels are made. Participants can cap off their afternoon with coffee and dessert while dancing to live music performed by giant saxophone-playing grapes.
Guiding small groups through Yosemite National Park and the surrounding attractions, the staff at Crossroads Tours & Limo hope to share their little slice of wonder with visitors. For example, take a trip through wine country to stop and sip samples of locally crafted varietals or enjoy a fragrant springtime tour through the explosion of flowers that occurs each year.
Centrally located between appellations as extensive as Santa Monica and Napa Valley, the locally owned Mariposa Wine Company cultivates three brands of artisanal wines from grapes that historically thrive in the surrounding region. Mariposa's cool-climate-grown CRU brand features a classic 2007 Vineyard Montage pinot noir ($23.99), brimming with whiffs of cherry pie, cranberry undertones, and rapidly edited sequences of growing grapes set to inspiring power chords. The powerful syrah grape packs a peppery punch in the 2007 Sur le Pont ($19.99), one of Mariposa's Mediterranean-influenced Carmichael-brand wines. Also available is the Yosemite View brand, with grapes, bottles, and corks all grown in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Vigorously inhale the raspberry and licorice aromas of Yosemite View's zinfandel ($12). Bottle buyers who don't even buy laundry detergent without swishing it around in their mouth first will get to sample the winery's intriguing blends in its Wine-Tasting Room, where they can test the appearance, complexity, and squirt-gun capabilities of each vino at their leisure before buying.