Raisin Hell Ranch wrings gasps and screams from horror-seeking psyches with three scare-generating attractions. VIP pass-holders skip sprawling queues at all three attractions, ignoring lines with the insouciance of an entitled princeling on their way to spine-tingling seasonal scares. Inspect the foreboding stalks of Scarecrow's Revenge, dropping into a cornfield populated with carnivorous strawmen thirsting for the human vitality that prolongs their unlife and helps them win the ranch’s annual blood drive. Chupacabra Feast sets guests' fear-resistant equipoise against hordes of goat-hating hellbeasts. After eluding external creeps and internal fear of candy corn, guests escape to the Black-Out Maze's 2.5 miles of lightless twists and turns, staying on edge thanks to spooky noises, roving monsters, and claustrophobic dead ends.
Moravia Wine's Howard Hammond is the patriarch of the family vineyards. For Howard, farming is a family tradition that stretches back to the late 19th century, when his Danish ancestor, Hans Jacob Jeppesen, arrived in America aboard a Norwegian vessel named "Moravia." Today, Howard, his wife Barbara, and a new generation of Hammonds carry on that tradition at the family's vineyards, a 400-acre estate in West Fresno. There, they produce Moravia wine inside a World War II-era farm and equipment barn. The barn's interior has undergone major changes to accommodate the production process and frequent tasting events. But its exterior still uses the original brickwork, maintaining the building's character.
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).
Hundreds of reenactors from several western states descend on Kearney Park for a living-history lesson that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the civil war. Wander through a civilian town and military encampments housing battle-weary soldiers as live music from the period drifts through the air and artisans craft non-anachronistic wares. Time-traveling visitors may stumble upon Abraham Lincoln for a chat about emancipation or about how he plans to decorate his beard for Halloween as a collection of stagecoaches gleams in the sun nearby.
For more than a eight years, the Fresno Home Show's organizers have canvassed the Central Valley to collect and concentrate the knowledge of scores of building, décor, gardening, and landscaping professionals. Homeowners can bring blueprints for home projects and consult with vendors or chat with experts.
A Double Gold Medal award winner for its 2007 Lucas Vineyard zinfandel at the 2010 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Ramos Torres Winery produces several Central Valley–grown wines under the direction of Oscar Ramos, who holds a degree in enology and a minor in enosophy (the study of wine's thoughts). An in-store wine tasting will let you and a beverage buddy tiptoe your taste buds through a selection of five Ramos Torres varietals and fermented concoctions, which may include the 2008 Vino Tinto, a careful blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit sirah, petit verdot, and alicante bouchet. The 2009 Conversations blends apricot aromas, muscat blanc, and the citrus sensations of orange muscat—tailor-made for sipping atop a bucking bronco. Tasters are then challenged to select between a bottle of the Vino Tinto and a bottle of Conversations.
Surrounded by craggy peaks, three men in bright-red helmets stand in the midst of wilderness, surveying the mountains around them as their group of hikers break for a snack on the rocky ground. This interface with the majesty of nature is all in a day's work for this trio of adventurers—Paul Mangasarian and Jakob and Daniel Laggner. Still, their passion for open-air exploration grows with each expedition they lead. Paul, Jakob, and Daniel cofounded Treks and Tracks with the dream of orchestrating excursions into nature that combine ancient means of travel—such as sailing, horseback riding, and hitchhiking on a centaur—with modern sports ranging from surfing to rock climbing. Though they focus on introducing novice outdoorsfolk to unspoiled wilderness around the world, Treks and Tracks' cofounders also strive to leave the awe-inspiring surroundings they visit as pristine as they found them by rigorously upholding practices of environmental stewardship on each expedition.