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.
Just 2 miles from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park sits a post that passed from homesteader to cowboy to Mike and Sherry Knapp, who dubbed it Yosemite Trails Pack Station 70 years ago. Since then, three generations of Knapps have run the station, but it remains as isolated and wildlife rich as it was in 1966. Today, Larry Knapp and his team still raise cattle as well as american quarter and american paint horses in the Sierra Nevada mountains, getting them acclimated to the rocky terrain so that they can safely carry patrons on trail rides. Trails wind through Big Creek, the Vista Pass, and even venture into Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, thick with millennia-old redwood trees. Days on horseback often culminate in cowboy cookouts with hot dogs, s’mores, and photos of ex-boyfriends roasted over the campfire. When summer fades to winter, guests can still enjoy the mountain-lined horizon on sleighs drawn by belgian draft horses.
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.